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5 Facts Against Homework: An Expert’s Opinion

It’s a polarising debate. Homework is that big black cloud, the bane of every student’s existence, but is so often accepted as simply a fact of life. If you want to do well in school, you have no choice but to do it.

But is that really true? The fact that this is causing such a firestorm and is at the centre of hundreds of studies at the moment tells us this: students, parents and teachers are starting to question its place in our educational system.

Fact Number One: Just About Everyone Hates It

Students hate doing it. Teachers hate marking it. Parents hate having to cajole and reprimand and encourage… then eventually finish the darn tasks themselves.

If no-one likes studying at home, it’s got to have some serious positive impact on learning for it to be such a mainstay of our education system, right?

Fact Number Two: Time is Precious

What begins as some quiet time on the couch reading together when they are five slowly becomes an hour and then two of intensive finding, reading, analysing and re-writing by the time students are at High School. With many parents now working full time jobs as well as managing a household, completing homework has replaced any family time together in most homes during the average working week.

If it’s going to take time away from other family-based activities, it had better be really beneficial to a student’s learning, right?

Fact Number Three: It’s Not Teaching Important Skills

It’s been said that it is important because it teaches independence, but this is not the case. Most students at elementary level require parent help to complete it. Only a handful of students from each class complete their after school work independently, and one can argue that these students have no need to increase their independent skills.

As for Middle and High School, although students do tend to work more independently, it’s more likely that once they have learned the “copy and paste” function, the overarching skill being practised here is plagiarism.

Fact Number Four: It Doesn’t Work!

There is absolutely no correlation between extra study at home and better grades – this has been the conclusion of almost all recent studies. It’s been found that participation in class discussion and activities is a much better predictor of achievement. However, there is some good news for the handful of homework-lovers out there, which is that the students who do the most have also been found to increase their performance on standardized tests.

Fact Number Five: It’s Time for a Major Overhaul

What is absolutely clear from the results of the studies is that setting traditional forms of homework simply because it’s “just what we do” is no longer good enough. There is value in some assignments, but these need to be targeted in order to be beneficial. The purpose of the work needs to be clear to the teacher and to the student.

And when it comes to forcing students to study out of hours, less is more.