Down with homework (unless you’re home educating!)

There was a piece recently in the Telegraph about the effects of homework on our kids.

All through my schooling all my senses balked at the idea of home work. Most of my senses balked at school anyway, it seemed so totally pointless, irrelevant and intrusive.

Why on earth should the government dictate what we should know?! Let alone what we should wear and where and how we should learn?

A bit radical perhaps and I’ve maybe refined some of my earliest rebellions. But homework is still something that angers me.

It angers me because I feel it’s far, far less to do with what children really need and far more to do with control and politics. Especially the politics of schools and curriculum and tick-sheets where people need to be able to say; ‘yes, we’ve covered that’ and get Big Brother off their backs, whether Big Brother is Ofsted, heads or politicians.

None of this is about what’s good for children. Unless they’re one of the kids who happen to love learning like this, and admittedly some do. It’s more likely they don’t!

What’s good for children is that they’re doing other things like playing! What’s good for children is that they’re thinking, imagining, inventing, creating. What’s good for children is that they’re out playing. What’s good for kids is that they are organising their own lives, not always having their lives filled for them by schools and nagging parents. What’s good for young people is that they’re developing other skills besides academic skills, that they’re engaging in a diverse range of activities other than school ones, that families are getting together and being out and active and happy. Not being torn apart by the dictatorial routines of homework.

And actually, would we ever look back on life and say – ‘yep, it was homework that got me where I am today’ or ‘yep – I’ve failed miserably because I didn’t do that English homework in Year 8’!

For goodness sake, can’t people see that there are other ways to learn and develop skills than sitting doing home work? There are other things to learn about life. Other ways to learn.

Researching is obviously good, and kids do it all the time on the Net, but whilst the demands of homework constantly prescribe children’s lives they are not getting the chance to develop skills needed to live purposeful, practical, responsible lives. They do that by engaging with purposeful, practical responsible life, making decisions about what to do, how to do it, what they’d like to do, for themselves. And engaging with the lives of others around them.

I fear our young people’s lives are becoming narrower and narrower, more controlled, more dictated, with less and less chance to learn about what it takes to really lead a life, make decisions, find out about themselves and how to be independent. The more we control and dictate the more we take those skills away.

Down with homework – let’s keep it in better proportion with all the other valuable things children could be doing. Unless you’re home educating of course. Then you’re doing a whole range of homework in the day!

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4 thoughts on “Down with homework (unless you’re home educating!)

  1. It’s interesting to note that those of us who are the most outspoken seem to be former classroom teachers. We bought into the traditional setup (parts of it to varying degrees), but we’re also the ones speaking out so vehemently against it. We’ve seen both sides.

    • Couldn’t agree more! Free time is so important and kids always fill it with something worthwhile and educational anyhow. Homework often makes parents and children miserable. I think its actually stifling. Kids need time to make sense of all they have learnt throughout the day. They need time to process it all. And families need the valuable time together listening and appreciating each other, far more valuable. Don’t get me wrong I know people need to consolidate what they have learnt if they are to retain it. But I don’t see why the curriculum can’t achieve this in school hours? Perhaps the curriculum is over complicated and unrealistic. It moves forward wether a child has grasped info or not making kids feel stupid and turning them off learning. Maybe primary school should be more about the basics. I know many of my daughters friends are in secondary school and haven’t grasped times tables, time or percentages. I think now there are to many tests and not enough learning.
      Another great post Ross

      • Thank you very much Shannon. And you’re so right in saying that the curriculum is over complicated – it’s actually over complicated the process of learning! Great you posted! x

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