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For those who don’t, however, and whose children attend a school that sets it in large amounts, they find themselves in a position where they are obliged to police their children and ensure it gets done; going against their own principals and presumably those they would undoubtedly like to instill in their children.These homework apologists may recognize the fact that homework to a large extent serves to compensate for the failings of the school system.
Indeed, I look back with fondness on friends whose constant failure to even attempt the set homework was matched only by the constantly poor excuses they offered to the teacher: ‘some homeless guy on the bus’ (who presumably had a profound interest in long-shore drift) ‘stole it’ remains my personal favorite.
As a teacher my relationship with homework has taken on a new dynamic.
This, in part, must be explained by the more experienced teachers’ ability to condense their lessons to fit the curriculum – a good working-system for achieving grades, but one not suitable for education in its own right.
Short of introducing an outright ban, a more effective system at least would be for us to invest more time coordinating amongst ourselves to make sure that we’re neither setting too much homework at the same time nor overlapping on test dates.
Looking back, constantly leaving my homework until the last minute was no more than a matter of course.
For a guitar-obsessed teenager who would invest more time in the Play Station than in any given chemistry or biology textbook, homework was always going to take a back seat, as it did amongst my peers.Working in Italy, I am obliged to set (and of course grade) increasingly large amounts of homework: most of which is completed by my female students, little of which is even attempted by my male students.While the dynamic has changed, however, my view has not. Instead of contributing to learning, it only threatens to blacken the association young people have with education. The sheer fact that the Internet is abound with websites trying to resolve homework-related conflicts and advising parents on how to get their children to do sit down and do it clearly highlights its inherent dislike by children.Homework is one of unique evils that all of us can relate to.Whether it plagued our evenings or weekends – or, for those unfortunate enough to be homeschooled, every waking hour, – for each of us homework evokes an individualized and vivid set of memories.In a recent tutorial, a 16 year-old Italian student of mine had to write a two-page critique in English of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s – a poem so archaic that even I as a mother-tongue English speaker struggle in parts.I’m not for one moment questioning the value of studying literature, but writing an essay on Romantic English literature when your spoken English is too elementary to accurately verbally communicate seems like a waste of time. In another tutorial, a student’s homework was to translate a page of dense grammatical explanations (meant for advanced adults) about the third-conditional into Italian; an exercise that astounded me not only because of the dastardly difficulty and pointlessness of the task, but also because my students English-comprehension was so low that it soon became apparent that the nervous boy sitting before me had absolutely no idea what he was reading.Homework encourages competition, and parents will pay to get the edge with private tutors. Homework is about memorization not education, and there is a case to be made that if you were able to do the homework it never needed to be done, whereas if you weren’t able to do it, you haven’t learnt anything so the whole exercise was pointless.Here are a few such examples of pointless homework.We’re shortly going to look at the negative health effects homework can have on children.Before doing that, however, it’s worth suggesting that one of the most insidious ways in which homework damages children may be psychological.