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.
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.
As we’ll see later, work that doesn’t get done at school – often through no fault of the child’s – is set as homework.
The idea that it is the child’s responsibility to make up for this, however, is one that parents have to feel comfortable with before they can preach to their children about doing it.This part of Hollande’s address was entirely in line with his liberal principals.As president of France’s (Socialist Party), Hollande recognizes homework as an anti-egalitarian instrument that benefits children who come from wealthy backgrounds, who have healthy working environments that are conducive to learning, and who have parents willing to lend time and energy to helping them.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.His mum, however, had paid for this ‘tutorial’ and expected results.So within the allotted time we struggled through together, fulfilled the homework’s crazy criteria and merrily learned nothing.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.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.