The issue of homework has always been one that’s been hotly contested between students and teachers. With homework levels increasing year after year, and the stress levels of students increasing, it’s been suggested that doing away with homework entirely would help students learn better when they’re in school. So, can homework help learning, or is it just busywork?
There are certainly a wide array of benefits to assigning students homework. In a busy classroom, a student may not have the time or the resources to be able to properly understand the concepts they are being taught. When they’re assigned homework that reinforces the ideas from the classroom, the student can work at it at their own pace, and begin to understand the theories they’re being taught.
As well as academic knowledge, homework also helps develop essential skills for later life. Having to do homework means that a student must develop time management, independent working, and research skills. Self reliance can’t easily be taught in a school setting, so homework is the best way of letting students develop it for themselves.
However, there are serious downsides to assigning homework. Students with supportive parents will be able to complete their assignments with ease, as they’ll have a suitable environment at home in which to study in, and can call on parents for assistance if and when needed. Not all students are lucky enough to have this arrangement, though, so homework creates a divide between those who do have support and those who don’t. This divide will affect the education of the students who don’t, through no fault of their own.
As well as this, homework can have quite a serious impact on a student’s social and family life. Just as an adult needs a good work/life balance to remain at their best in their job, a student needs time to relax, spend time with their family, and play. If they don’t get this, their performance at school can suffer dramatically. Burnout is a very real danger when it comes to homework.
Homework itself doesn’t appear to be the enemy, but the amount and the intensity of it is. Even teachers with the best intentions at heart can assign too much, causing problems for their students. It seems that the solution is not to abolish homework altogether, but to put limits on how and when it is assigned.
So, is homework harmful or helpful? It can be both, depending on the student’s circumstances, and how much homework is assigned to them. It can help them develop skills that would be difficult to nurture in the school setting, and it can give them the time and space to understand concepts that may have passed them by otherwise. On the other hand, it can have a serious effect on a student’s work/life balance, and can create a divide between the students who get support, and those who don’t. When assigned sparingly and with good reason, a good balance can be maintained and facilitate a student’s learning.