Homework: Useful, Harmful or Irrelevant?

Homework has been a long-hated school tradition for generations of kids and teachers alike, but a seemingly necessary one. After all, is there a better way for kids to learn a subject than by taking it home with them and practicing? This question seems to have been answered with a resounding “yes” by France, whose president recently announced his intention to abolish homework for primary- and middle-schoolers.

The decision to eliminate homework for French children stems from an effort for more equality across social classes. The reasoning is that kids with less parental involvement and less financial stability are at a disadvantage in completing homework; therefore it should be eliminated so that all kids have an equal opportunity to learn.

Louis Menand points out in a detailed editorial for The New Yorker that the top two school systems in the world, Finland and South Korea, have opposite policies regarding homework because they have very different long-term goals. Intense study outside of school produces South Korean students with a dedication to hard work, while the Finnish system helps raise all students up to the same level at a gradual pace. For example, kids in Finland don’t even start school until age seven, allowing them time to develop at home.

Eliminating homework altogether seems like an extreme solution to the problem of uneven learning opportunities, from either financial or parental reasons. Practicing skills at home and keeping the information fresh in a student’s mind seems a reasonable goal, and each school should be capable of deciding on their own what makes the most sense.

Tell us what you think about homework in the comments section.

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2 Responses to “Homework: Useful, Harmful or Irrelevant?”

  1. Courtney MazzocchiFebruary 7, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Oh, mon Dieu. I’m a French teacher and I find it essential for students to practice outside of class what they learn in class. It is irresponsible to think that students will learn all that they need to know inside of a classroom, especially when each subject is taught for roughly 50 minutes a day. We have to be more realistic; with or without parental involvement, the real role of the teacher is to prepare students to be more accountable for their own education. This means that a large part of the acquisition process in any school is to help students realize that it is their responsibility to practice what is learned outside of class in order to prepare for their future.

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