The Homework Question

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The homework question is one of the biggies in the education world and has been for quite some time now. The question being of course: to assign it, or not to assign it? Now we will refrain from going full-out Hamlet on you, but this is a major issue and one that, it seems, will just keep on being talked about.

So, what exactly is presented in the case for homework? A lot of the people arguing for homework make the point that class time is limited. Homework is a way of ensuring that students get more practice in the subject after they’ve left the classroom, rather than just dropping it completely until the next designated period to revisit the topic. It allows students not only the opportunity to process ideas, but to explore new ones. To be clear though, this argument is for meaningful and engaging homework, not the redundant and repetitive stuff that students tend to hate.

The seemingly ever-growing group of people who want to do away with homework also make valid arguments. Homework of the aforementioned drill variety tends to add unnecessary stress in what is for a lot of students an already stressful life. Students who are given too much homework from a young age can develop stress, depression, and a skewed perception of success. They are also prone to cheating and bad study habits like procrastination. In other words, the more homework students get, the worse off they are. And as a student might see it, it’s like being forced to work overtime with no benefit.

The in-between argument is that for lessening the load of homework. At every grade level students are told to expect a certain amount of time spent on each subject outside of class. But by the time a student reaches high school this can mean 2-3 hours of time spent working after school. And this on top of the now highly encouraged extracurricular activities to get into college means less time for taking time for themselves. Stress + less sleep + lots of activity = one grumpy student. So, the argument follows, decrease the amount of work given, emphasize extra credit work, and compromise both sides of the homework question.

What do you think? Should we make like the French president and make it our mission to get rid of homework? Or do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages?