I’ll admit it: I’ve never been a huge fan of homework. Growing up, the idea of work outside of school made me sick to my stomach. Spending countless hours in front of a computer screen to write essays about practically incomprehensible literary pieces isn’t really my idea of a fun Wednesday night. But thanks to researchers and advocates currently fighting to stop the distribution of homework, unnecessary assignments may become a task we no longer have to put up with.
From the 1890s to the 1920s, reformers saw homework as a “sin” that only took away from children’s free time. Modern critics have yet to shake this claim – globally, the time students spend on homework shows no correlation to their performance on standardized tests.
“There is almost no evidence that homework helps elementary school students achieve academic success and little evidence that it helps older students. Yet the nightly burden is taking a serious toll on America’s families. It robs children of the sleep, play, and exercise time they need for proper physical, emotional, and neurological development,” wrote Sara Bennett, co-author of The Case Against Homework, on her website.
According to a study conducted by Duke University, results suggest little to no relationship between homework and students’ achievement. Yet homework is still seen as a vital component of education within the American school system.
Even in high school, “too much homework may diminish its effectiveness or even become counterproductive,” writes Professor Harris Cooper of Duke University in his latest research review.
Still, American students continue to score at about the international average despite doing as much homework as students in other countries.
Early into the 21st century, Finland officiated a nation-wide ban on homework along with the elimination of standardized testing. Citizens were initially skeptical regarding the ban, but shortly after, the Finnish graduation rate spiked to a whopping 93%, while America’s comes in at around 75%. Along with its stunning number of successful high school graduates, Finland also happens to have the highest rate of students going to college in Europe.
Following Finland’s system, Francois Hollande, France’s president, proposed to ban homework in fear that it may have “inegalitarian” effects.
“When it comes to homework, the President said it should be done during school hours rather than at home, in order to establish equal opportunities,” said a statement released by an official at the French Embassy. Hollande argues that “homework favors the wealthy because they are more likely to have a good working environment at home, including parents with the time and energy to help them with their work.”
The idea of a world without homework may sound like a dream, but there are a couple of drawbacks to abolishing homework. Firstly, students will not be able to practice and review new techniques taught in class. I won’t lie – math homework can be a drag, but without going over new methods and lessons at home, I’d be completely lost the following day. Teachers also often want their students equipped when they come into the classroom, particularly in subjects like literature that may require preparation for a discussion. Many also believe that without homework, students lack preparation for college. Since daily assignments are a part of college life, young students will not get accustomed to having intensive work after hours of school.
But being an overworked high school student myself, I believe in a future in which teens aren’t robbed of their time after school and are able to pursue extracurricular activities. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to have some time to enjoy being a kid.
By Olympia Rodriguez