When Schools eliminate all homework

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Brigid McGuire

Contributing Writer

 

 

 

 

 

It is safe to say that children enjoy doing homework as much as parents enjoy the resistance, yelling and subsequent tears during homework time. For decades, homework has been required by school administration and assigned daily to ensure understanding and reinforcement of the day’s lesson. In the past two decades, however, households have shifted from having one parent in the workforce to both, which usually means day care is required after school. What parents want to spend what little time they have with their child doing homework? Does homework have a place in modern society? Here arises the great homework debate.

This age-old debate has been called to attention recently with the banning of homework at Collège de Saint-Ambroise in Quebec, Canada. This elementary school made international news when it announced a school-wide ban on any homework other than nightly reading or studying for tests. This idea is not new and has been suggested and implemented in other countries. In 2012, the president of France proposed banning homework in an effort to give disadvantaged students the same opportunities to succeed as their more advantaged peers. The thinking is that advantaged students have increased parent involvement and many opportunities provided to them outside of school, while disadvantaged students lack parent involvement and cultural opportunities. This reasoning is similar to that behind the banning of homework at Collège de Saint-Ambroise in that parent involvement in children’s lives is critical, but unfortunately limited in modern family life. Often both parents work and sending children to day care from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. is necessary. Picking up children from day care, cooking dinner, going to athletic practices or social events, and taking care of everyday tasks leaves little to no room for parents to sit down with their children and help them with their homework. There is simply no time to allow children to play or socialize. These are valid reasons for doing away with homework and there is something to be said for lightening the homework load of elementary school students.

On the other hand, banning homework completely can have negative effects on a student’s future education, and even success in the real world. Discipline, time management and responsibility are just a few of the life skills students gain while doing homework. Learning these skills at a young age provides not only a great academic foundation, but also a solid work ethic to be used all throughout life. The purpose of school is essentially to educate and prepare people to be contributing members of society. Developing and practicing life skills is just as much a part of education as completing times tables or writing out spelling words.

An understanding needs to be reached between educators and parents that the good of the child is ultimately what matters. A balance between teaching children necessary life skills and allowing children to simply be children must be found. Perhaps reducing either the amount of homework assigned nightly, or the academic weight homework holds could still meet educational needs. Going to extremes in either direction however, is not the solution.

 

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