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Should Homework Be Banned from Universities and Schools?

Should Homework Be Banned from Universities and Schools?

Education is a key to hitting career goals, earning decent money and building a life you want. This is why issues linked to learning and schools have always been discussed and changed in order to make them better. But what is actually better? More learning or less learning? STEM or Humanities?  Books or tablets? Probably, a few other points caused that much argument as homework does. Students have always complained about it, teachers have always assigned it, and parents were always split in their opinions on that topic. But was it always so?

Basically, the home task overload has hit high school students around the globe in recent decades. At the beginning of the 20th century, homework was not an issue because it was not widely assigned. Kids were expected to do home chores and help with earning money, not ‘waste time’ on books. Richer families encouraged their kids to read, learn art, music, and so enrich their after-school experiences in various ways. But the real boom of schoolwork began after WWII when the Cold War threat was looming over the world, and specialists were needed to counter its possible outcomes.

But nowadays, when the Cold War is a matter of history books, why do students carry the burden of the home task that disrupts their lives? It eats up their time, puts pressure on relations with parents and in general makes their lives worse. But homework loads only seem to grow with the time making even parents wonder when it will finally stop.

Children with long hours of homework suffer from depression, low self-esteem, sleep deprivation, and no one is counting the time they spend working. It exceeds the time adults spend at work but no one seems to worry – because there was no one to raise the alarm and advocate for them. But now the times are changing, and more and more parents demand that homework is banned in schools or at least significantly limited. So what are the facts and what steps are to be taken (or not taken)?

Real Amount of Homework Tasks

Currently, most parents and all teachers (and researchers who took care to do surveys) agree that students – at least in the USA – clock in more than 40 hours of school work per weekdays. Schools loom over even on weekends when students need time to spend with parents and friends, or on their hobbies, or just on relaxing. This is far too much compared to any reasonable expectation of human capacity, especially when it comes to kids. It also goes against all scholarly data that show how much home working is safe and really beneficial for academic success.

Students in the USA come home after a full school day and some necessary extracurricular and face another full 6 hours of work till midnight or past it. Teens are also expected to do sports, volunteering or socially meaningful things to be accepted to colleges. So basically they are expected to work, work, work all the time and it is said to do them good.

The reasonable amount of homework per day is at most 2 hours including all classes, written and oral tasks. This is alright for high school kids and college people, but not for younger kids, who do not benefit from home learning at all.  Another recommendation is that homework tasks should not take more time than 4 hours per week in total. The rest does no good to skills but does serious harm to kids’ health.

The general rule is that kids need 10 minutes of home learning per year of study, so as they advance in school their load grows until this very cap of 2 hours per night. Young kids need only some free reading of books they like to really boost their reading and comprehending skills.

But who would listen to students when it is so easy to accuse them of laziness and improper time management? (We’d like to see schedules of critics and see if they are that much efficient and fulfilled alone, not with the help of the team of assistants like it is expected from students).

Positive and Negative Effect of Workload

So are there any scientifically proven pros and cons of learning at home? We have clarified that there are severe limits to its benefits, but now let us see what these benefits are.

Good sides:

  • Some classes need extra learning time, like languages, math or history, where students refresh and reinforce their knowledge or memorize stuff;
  • Repetitive exercises (within reasonable limits) help master technical skills of problem-solving, for example;
  • Challenging tasks help boost interest and creativity, they actually make students learn more and go beyond the basics;
  • Some creative tasks take time for preparation and drafting, and this time is available at home only;
  • Responsibility and time management can be learned through setting homework, but this is the worst way to do it.

Now wrong sides, and they do look cumbersome:

  • Kids suffer from various mental health issues related to failure to complete homework, including depression, fatigue and thoughts about suicide;
  • Their self–esteem suffers as their academic image falls together with the failure to turn in homework;
  • Kids tend to drop out of school because they cannot cope with homework load for reasons that do not depend on them (no Internet at home, no place to study, etc.);
  • Health is overworked from lack of sleep, early rises, constant mental work and pressure;
  • Kids have eating problems, obesity, headaches and stomach aches because all they have time for is work;
  • Finally, such an amount of homework does not improve their scores and makes them hate school and learning.

12 Reasons Why Homework Should Be Banned

If you need more reasons, here is an exact list of why homework assignments should disappear for good.

  1. No free time for an actual lifetime with friends, parents, pets, hobbies or for watching TV of gaming. In other words, no time to be a kid and a normal human being.
  2. Homework can reduce test scores. It eats up time necessary for preparation for important exams.
  3. Serious health harm and psychological harm. It seems to be a valid reason to ban homework alone.
  4. Additional pressure on students who work part-time or look after siblings.
  5. Individual learning is not for everyone. Sometimes parents cannot help much.
  6. It does not actually improve the academic level of teens in its current form, it just hurts their health and family relations.
  7. All students learn in their own ways, and unified homework does not account for that. What one can read, the other needs to hear from a teacher.
  8. Written tasks are not for everyone as well. Not everyone has a writing talent – and it is a real talent. So it is unfair to judge everyone by this measure.
  9. Content is new to students. In other words, they are expected to learn on their own what a teacher did not teach them.
  10. Boring similar tasks that look like drilling. Drilling is good in the oil industry, but not in school.
  11. Improperly formulated tasks and assignments that do not make students interested and willing to work.
  12. School day actually never ends. If this is illegal for adults, then it should be illegal for kids as well.

What Schools and Universities Have Already Banned Homework?

Guess what, there are places that have already outlawed home learning struggles and the sky did not fall on the ground.

The USA and England schools, as well as a European educational system, discard homework. Philip Morant School and college in England skipped it thus sparking a national debate. In the USA schools of  Ridgewood, N.J., and Fairfax County, Va., do not give it over vacations, and a school in Lafayette, Calif., does not give homework up to a 4th grade. Second grade in Arlington, Va. does not receive it either. In Lexington (Massachusetts) a school does not give homework in elementary classes. Looks impressive, but wait for it.

The French president promised to ban homework altogether, and in Malta the government studies the question of banning homework as too stressful. Need more arguments about ‘usefulness’ of homework?

How to Make Homework More Helpful?

But still if it is unavoidable, what should it be? It needs three key elements not to waste time. Homework should be:

  • Meaningful;
  • Challenging;
  • Relying on already learned stuff, not on learning new material independently.

Yes, not drilling or filling endless printed sheets just to keep kids busy, but a meaningful activity, like making a simple experiment, reading or composing a free verse poem. Challenging invites kids to be creative, persistent and makes them feel like researchers. And please, no tasks like ‘read 3 chapters for the next class’. This spells ‘lazy teacher’ or badly planned class time, or lack of school resources. But this is not what kids should do at home. No way.

Hope we have persuaded you, or at least provided some info to think about. Now do your ‘homework’.

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