Arguments for and against homework
For: It develops home/school partnerships.
Against: What about parent/child relationships? Forcing children to work on after school has finished is detrimental to everyone, harming relationships and causing disruption to family life.
For: Homework reinforces skills and knowledge learnt at school.
Against: Children are at school for around six hours a day. The expectations of the curriculum are excessive. Something needs to change in order for effective learning to happen during the school day, without the need for additional work at home. Students are expected to spend most of this time sitting and listening and the curriculum is gradually squeezing out almost all physical education. Most children come home from school mentally exhausted, tired and hungry. They need to relax and use up their contained physical energy in the very short space of time left in the day after out-of-school activities, homework, eating, bathing, and story telling.
For: It raises children’s achievements.
Against: Teachers and children are under extraordinary pressure to achieve, driven by the school’s need for a good OFSTED report, which will ensure that parents want their children to attend the school, which will ensure the school stays open. This has nothing to do with the individual, creative development of the children (despite sterling work by teachers doing their best to tackle an impossibly large curriculum). Rather, it is about goverment education departments satisfying and achieving their own attainment targets (in essence, “ticking the right boxes”).
For: Homework helps children to work independently.
Against: Children want to do well, so what happens when they can’t do it? They ask for help, which is not independence. Children should be so stimulated by their lessons that they do research at home BECAUSE THEY WANT TO!
For: It assists in building children’s self-esteem.
Against: Not in my experience. Children quickly become distressed when they feel they can’t do their homework and feel that they have failed when they cannot complete it in the given time.
“We destroy most of the intellectual and creative capacity of children by the things we do to them or make them do. We destroy this capacity above all by making them afraid, afraid of not doing what other people want, or not pleasing, of making mistakes, of failing, or being wrong.” John Holt (1964, as above)
For: Homework prepares children for the next stage of their education.
Against: Creative play and imagination are vital for a child’s development. Why should this be jeopardised in the name of ‘achievement’? Children need time to relax in the same way adults do when they come home from a hard day’s work. What is the system afraid of: children having a good time, or being independent, or expressing their own free will?
“…we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.” John Holt (1964, as above)
“The true test of intelligence is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do.” John Holt (1964, as above)
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”