The Homework Conundrum

The Homework Conundrum

In January 1999, the cover of Time Magazine stated Too Much Homework! How it’s hurting our kids and what parents should do about it! It’s 2017, and we are still talking about homework. Some parents complain of too much homework and some complain of too little.
Homework has been around for a long time now. Children through the decades scrambling ten minutes before bedtime to do suddenly remembered homework, children writing furiously in the backs of cars and buses. Parents dreading that “Muuuummmmm can you come here for a sec?
It’s all part and parcel of childhood and parenthood.
Homework unfortunately, can cause great tension between parents and kids – frustration and impatience can end in tears or sulky faces. Some parents think of it as a paradox – too much homework applies too much pressure on their kids they will be burnt out before they reach secondary school; too little homework and there is not enough pressure, how will they cope with secondary school and later in life when they need to work long hours and meet deadlines?
The homework debate has been at the forefront of school policies recently as schools review the pros and cons of homework in today’s world. Is homework an antiquated practice? Is it time to be rid of it?
In Finland, students have no homework and students don’t undergo any standardize testing until they are 16 years old; they also rate highest in the world in PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) test scores. But no homework can’t take all the credit for that. Classes usually do not exceed 12 students and all teachers, who are rightfully esteemed as highly as doctors and lawyers, are required to have a Master’s Degree.
Of course homework has its benefits, otherwise it wouldn’t have been able to stick around for so long:
– It teaches kids to be organized and manage their time at a young age
– It instillls a sense of responsibility and discipline
– It highlights any areas they might be having problems with
– It consolidates what they learnt in school
Some disadvantages include:
– It reduces down time when can relax, play and be children, which encourages creativity and independence.
– It can cause conflict between parents and kids as parents chase kids to do homework or parents get frustrated teaching a child some concept
– Takes away from family time
– Takes away from sports and other activities
Back in 2006, a comprehensive study by Professor Harris Cooper in Duke University found that homework does have a positive effect on student achievement, but for secondary rather than primary students. The study also showed however that while it’s clear that homework is a critical part of the learning process, Cooper said the analysis also showed that too much homework can be counter-productive for students at all levels.
While the Department of Education in the UK maintains the positive aspects of homework, in 2012, schools were given free reign over assigning homework to their students as they see fit.
The 10-minute rule that was introduced by Dr. Cooper and was endorsed and encouraged by the National PTA and the National Education Association in the US appears to be reasonable and useful. Ten minutes of homework per grade – so first graders get 10 minutes, second graders get 20 minutes all the way up to high school students who get two hours of homework.
The thing about Finland is that parents seem to trust their schools. Perhaps it’s time for parents to trust the schools they have opted to put their children in to follow the research, use their expertise and advise the best course to assure the best education for your children.

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