Pros & Cons of Homework
Homework is a part of the fabric of most educational systems, but does it really make better students?
The pros of homework
Homework, especially in high school and college level coursework, is crucial if a student is to absorb all of the material required to master a subject. Class time at these levels is best used to embellish and build on the information the student has already acquired during periods of self study. It allows a teacher to go beyond the textbook.
By having homework, students can concentrate on what matters the most during school time, which are discussions, learning, experimenting and asking questions.
Homework can provide important practice for many of the skills required for learning, particularly in the areas of rote learning. Homework involving simple math operations, spelling and vocabulary lists can help students build the foundation for further learning.
Reading is good for the developing brain
Reading assignments are especially important even at early ages. Reading develops many aspects of the developing brain, and should be encouraged.
Lack of classroom time
Homework can be necessary when classroom time is not enough to provide the subject exposure needed to do the job.
Many proponents of structured extracurricular study programs view the opposition to homework as codling an already soft and lazy student population. They feel that homework instills discipline, and creates a superior intellect.
The cons of homework
Few opponents of homework feel that it is never needed. Their position is that it is often over applied and used inappropriately, especially at younger ages.
Our own fear
The introduction of large scale homework assignments to younger students was a result of the scare caused by Russia’s launch of the Sputnik Satellite and their subsequent achievement of being the first country to put a man into space. We feared that a learning gap had occurred between our two countries, and tried to instill advanced learning disciplines at earlier and earlier ages to compensate.
Many studies indicate that homework has little positive effect on the performance of students in the earlier grades. There is only so much that a mind of that age can absorb through self study, and piling on homework doesn’t change that.
Too much homework does have its down side as well. Students will have less time exploring their talents and develop other areas of interest such as music and sports.
Homework is stressful
Additional studies have shown that the over application of homework can stress individuals to the point that it has a negative effect on performance, resulting in an outcome opposite of desired goal.
Better system needed
Many critics of the current system endorse a graduated level of homework which increases slowly as the student develops. One proposal is to limit homework to 10 minutes a day for each grade the student has achieved. For example, second graders would receive 20 minutes per day, and sixth graders an hour. By the time the student graduates from high school, they will be working 2 hours per night, and be on a path that will make them ready for the demands of college.
Kids need time to enjoy too
Homework on weekends and holidays is also shown to be more of a detriment than an aid to learning. Kids need time off too.