The Great Work and Home Divide

Even though I have completed my first university trimester a statement from one of my first lectures has lingered on my mind for the last while now:

“Homework is not necessary and I down right disagree with it”

From the statement, and the statement alone, mental imagery would more than likely conjure up a figure of a young male or female who may be full of colourful ideas, wear baggy, colourful clothes and regularly preaches about modernism and peace whilst sitting on the edge of a desk giving high fives to the students as they leave the room. On the contrary, the lecturer who delivered this statement is an upper middle-aged male with over a decade experience of teaching under his belt. Trying not to deviate on our lecture he only managed to briefly utter how much he opposes homework and that home should be home and work should be work. Even though his expressions were short and straight to the point and by no means a rant, I couldn’t help but pick up on it and since has left me pondering the issue.

His stance on the topic was that homework causes the child distress and affects self-esteem. As well as this, he mentioned that it causes the teacher extra work marking 20+ children’s work books wasting their time as it would result in going round each child individually going over homework and not being able to give them enough teacher time.

Homework is something that has been present throughout my whole education career, having been through 3 different educational institutions and currently in a fourth it’s interesting to look at the attitudes towards homework issuing and frequency. Unfortunately, my memories only scales back to late primary school where I would have been around 6 years old; from that I remember that my class and I were issued a weekly spelling test which we would revise using the whole look, cover, write, check, repeat method and constructing a sentence with the word. As well as that, I remember numerous class projects that I had to do background research on at home (I specifically remember an in-depth account of Napoleon Bonaparte and a double sided fact sheet on snow leopards). Although my memories of homework are pretty foggy what I know for definite is that homework wasn’t so abundant to the point I recall it got in the way of me going out to play with my friends. At the time I didn’t think of it as an obstacle or something that got in the way of my childhood, however, saying that I was privileged to have parents and an older brother who would sit and help me if I struggled with my homework which would decrease my stress levels regarding homework.

Taking a step back it could probably be argued that the reason why I was somewhat taken aback by my lecturer’s comments is because I was lucky growing up with a supportive family and didn’t struggle overall with school work. I never had to juggle school work alongside anything else such as looking after my parents or doing chores for my parents or just a background which demanded a lot more of my attention. Moreover, I did struggle with some subjects but I was generally a capable child and, though not in the top group, was in the upper ability groups through school.

As an aspiring educator with a teacher potentially, and commonly, being responsible for as many as 32 pupils in a class I can completely understand the view that it is more important spending class time interacting with the members of the class and teaching content as opposed to spending time individually and neglecting the class as a whole. But, a large part of me can’t help but think if you have a class of 32 pupils who can be, on the whole, energetic with attention focus swinging back and forth, without homework being a gauge on the individual’s understanding away from the classroom setting, away from the neighbour who knows all the answers, how is the teacher supposed to know the individual’s abilities and where they may require the extra support? Though class time does span the majority of the day, without homework being an incentive for the individual, how else would individuals practise their new skills to solidify the new knowledge within the mind especially when schooling is still heavily performance and exam based?

Again, I may have a biased view from my positive upbringing towards homework and school work but, although I am very much an advocate of home is not where school work or work stress belongs, I do believe that a small degree of homework is required to keep all the new information stored within the mind and so the brain can digest the more complex knowledge.

Maybe as I continue my journey becoming an educator and get more experience in the field observing the different situations and kids my opinion may change, but in the mean time I would love to know what your opinions are on the subject.

So, homework, constructive or unnecessary?


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