Homework: is it a necessary part of education?
May 23, 2019
art by Tiffany Qian
Homework is a necessary part of education
In an age where some believe that homework takes away from a child’s free-time, it is important to remember how vital independent work is to a student’s success. Some schools have even started to consider ending the long-practiced tradition of assigning homework. However, homework is a vital part of a student’s educational process, and provides extra practice and learning, independence similar to college, and proficiency in school.
The two factors that will ultimately determine a student’s grade are their ability to retain information and problem solving skills. When students do extra work at home, it helps them to remember information and successfully apply that knowledge to tests. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “[homework] is important because it can improve children’s thinking and memory.” Without homework, students are expected to retain all the information they learned in class, only by listening and practicing during that class.
During a seven-period day at Edina High School , classes are approximately 49 minutes long. With such a short amount of time, it would be impossible for students to learn, practice, and master information solely in class. Teachers often use the full class period to teach lessons or assign activities. If homework was removed, a teacher would have trouble finishing their year-long plans in time. If EHS adapted a no homework policy, students would no longer receive the benefits of an excellent high school education.
The famous saying “practice makes perfect” provides an additional example of how homework is vital to students’ success. Without practice, it is unrealistic to expect a student to master a skill. Part of life is about learning and remembering material on your own in an effective way. At home assignments have been used as a tool to accomplish this since 1095. According to Home, a small educational blog, an Italian teacher named Roberto Nevilis invented homework because he experienced little improvement in his students’ knowledge after hours of work in the classroom, which exemplifies how homework improves class performance.
Some arguments for why students should not have homework include the feelings that homework causes too much stress, doesn’t allow kids to be kids, and is just busywork. However, not one of said arguments is valid or realistic.
The first example hurts students more than it helps. Homework does cause stress, but that’s what school is supposed to be: difficult, but still enriching. Life is hectic and students are expected to manage stress as an adult, but without homework, they will never be taught how to effectively manage stressful situations.
The second argument appears the most warranted, due to the lack of homework younger students receive. By removing homework, students in elementary school and middle school will gain between one to two hours of additional free time. However, the argument is valid in high school, because the homework load increases drastically. Although, the cons of removing homework assignments far outweighs the extra free-time, because without homework kids would never excel or learn valuable life lessons in school.
The final argument is not valid because it does not account for the nuances of homework. Although some classes and assignments may appear to be busywork, most homework only helps students to learn the material and master the course. If homework was to be taken away completely, teachers would lose valuable class time to teach many of their lessons.
Overall, homework is a necessary part of every student’s education that helps them learn information in the long term, perform well on assignments and tests, and be successful in school and the world as an adult. Getting rid of homework would cause future generations to lack intelligence and valuable life experience.
Matt is excited for his second year on Zephyrus as a Page Editor. He is looking forward to further developing his journalistic skills.
Homework does more harm than good
Homework is the bane of many students’ lives. As a result, many school districts around the country have begun to abolish or significantly reduce the homework load given to students. Should Edina adopt this same policy?
The answer is yes, without a doubt. Districts across the country have been eliminating homework, and the result is far from catastrophic. For example, the Washington Post explains that the Marion County school district in Florida, which boasts 42,000 students, has implemented encouragement of daily reading instead of homework, boosting student performance.
Furthermore, very few teachers assign homework effectively. The American Psychological Association stresses that many teachers have received little to no training on what kind of work to assign, how much to assign, or even why homework is assigned in the first place.
A lack of knowledge about homework is a systemic issue among teachers. The Learning Scientists, an organization devoted to academic research on education, notes that the large majority of teacher-training textbooks don’t cover homework at all, and teacher-prep programs and schools of education fail to cover this material as well.
Homework doesn’t even effectively prepare students for standardized tests. Math can be learned through repetition, but reading comprehension, a very prominent skill on standardized tests, is not boosted through homework. That’s why the American Prospect, a liberal public policy journal, finds that many students in the United States are woefully underprepared for standardized tests, and the current approach taken by schools is wrong.
Even worse is that there can be very serious health concerns as a result of homework. A study by the Better Sleep Council found that homework is one of the top causes of stress for all teenagers. The study continues that on average, teenagers spend 15 hours a week on homework. This intensive schedule translates into 79% of teens not getting enough sleep (eight hours) on a regular basis.
When students have less time to take care of themselves, their health worsens. A study from Stanford’s Graduate School of Education concluded that students experience headaches, exhaustion, weight loss, and stomach problems due to heavy homework loads. Beyond the physical effects, students also have less time to spend on extracurriculars and hobbies, making moods worse and depression more likely.
Finally, homework may contribute to economic inequality as well. As noted by the Atlantic, 90% of students say that their homework requires use of the internet at some point in any given month, which creates issues when some students don’t have internet access or even technology to connect to the internet.
Considering that homework is a large determinant of academic success in the current system, when some students can’t complete the assignments their grades take the hit. Because school is so crucial to future job opportunities, this system only creates a cycle of poverty wherein the children of the poorest in society are forced to remain impoverished, keeping families at the bottom of the economic ladder for generations.
Homework now is assigned poorly, creates health issues, and furthers inequality. If eliminating it already works for many school districts in the United States, what is Edina waiting for?
Theo is a senior and third-year Zephyrus member. As a copy editor, Theo is able to stoke the fires of his passion for journalism. When not writing articles,...