I LIKE A TEACHER WHO GIVES YOU SOMETHING TO TAKE HOME AND THINK ABOUT BESIDES HOMEWORK. ~ LILY TOMLIN
I can’t wait to be done with this hellish lifestyle seriously, I so hate school. Oh no, don’t get it twisted, I love learning and education generally but these people are not making it easy one bit. I’m literally drowning in assignments, I can’t breathe. I do the ones I can, pay to get some of them done and of course copy the rest just to meet deadlines, it’s draining my energy and I can’t concentrate on proper studies anymore…
The above lamentation may sound familiar especially amongst students in tertiary institutions. It’s no longer News that some lecturers use assignments to cover up “lost grounds” and meet up with their course outlines and so students are made to summarize chapters upon chapters of textbooks that was supposed to be discussed in class. Talk about weekly term papers, mini seminars, book reviews etc and at the end of the day you still have a test to write.
The issue of assignments is not only peculiar to tertiary students, down to our secondary, primary and Nursery schools, the story is not much different. School children come back home almost on daily basis with various Homeworks. You will expect them to have a free weekend to rest from school work and have fun with family and/or catch up with other non school related activities, but no, all their workbooks are marked with Homework to keep them “occupied with studies” throughout the weekend and the circle resumes the next Monday.
Before, it used to be only students complaining about teachers giving too many Homeworks. Everyone except students saw it as a necessary tool in the education of a child. Keep them busy they said, they should not be playing too much, why are you reading Novels instead of solving maths etc. All these statements and more made it look like you must constantly be doing one assignment or the other to prove your worth as a serious student. Recently however, parents and other stakeholders are beginning to debate the effectiveness of Homework or rather too much of it as far as educating a child is concerned. Does it really help students (both lower and higher grades to learn better. Does it help them to learn how to manage their time to get things done in time? Does too many Homework really help in content mastery as supposed and does it spike the student’s interest in education the more?
Looking at our Educational system in Nigeria, it is becoming more and more obvious as the day unfolds that our curriculum especially in the upper grades is more or less obsolete in real life situation, it has become necessary that students develop interest and mastery of other skills necessary for survival in the real world while still in school. Sooner than later, it hits us and we realize that in the larger society, there is more to finding X and everything is not dy/dx.
In as much as giving Homeworks is not something to be disputed, we are rather concerned with what kind of Homework should be given and how much of it. Homework or rather an overload of it does not result in more content mastery not for kids and certainly not for older students either. Like Alfie Kohn said, kids are not like vending machines— put in assignment, get out learning.
Instead of overwhelming kids with Homework, they should be made to read at least 20 minutes daily. There is little or no evidence to show that time spent on Homework in most subject areas has a positive effect on the kids, however reading for pleasure is a power tool for children’s cognitive development especially in terms of vocabulary. As the kids grow, little assignments can be given. Like someone rightly stated, there is no need to assign 50 problems when 10 can do.
While we can consider scrapping Homework for kids, that is not applicable for upper grades. The fact is students must be given Homework occasionally. By limiting the amount of Homework given and improving the quality of assignments, you can to an extent improve the learning outcome of students. Too much of assignment wearies students and instead of giving it their best, they end up copying materials just to get it done.
Too much Homework is also a major cause of stress for students which can lead to fatigue, lack of sleep and even weight loss. It makes students dread the next school day instead of looking forward to it. It therefore becomes necessary for teachers to collaborate to ensure that students are not overwhelmed with assignments. There is absolutely no reason why six teachers should give assignments on the same day to be submitted almost on the same time too. Teachers should have a kind of roaster for giving assignments to make it easy on the students and they should ensure that class work is completed in class. Teachers should not give their course outlines as homework to students as a way to meet up, they should do their duties as teachers. Jim Benton said, Homeworks(permit me to add, too much of it) indicates that the teachers are not doing their jobs well enough during school day. It’s not like they will let you bring your home stuff to school and work on it there. You can’t say, “I didn’t finish sleeping at home, so I have to work on finishing my sleep here”.
To make Homework work for both the students and teachers, a close look at the quality and purpose of the assignment is to be considered in the light of the following :
Do students understand the purpose and value of the the assignment? Will all students be able to do the task independently? Is this assignment better done in class or as a Homework? How much time should this assignment take? What kind of feedback back should I provide on the Homework?
Most often, students don’t even get a feedback on their Homework. How are they supposed to know how good they performed and what corrections to make next time. In most cases, it makes them feel that teachers don’t even go through their assignments and so they don’t bother putting in extra efforts in doing the next one. More often, they copy each other, after all, the teacher won’t even notice. This can be corrected however, when assignments are regulated. It reduces stress both on the students and the teacher who grades them.
Finally, I’d suggest that instead of tying students down with Homework, they should be encouraged to take on interest outside school work like sports, dance, music, Arts, drama, entrepreneurship etc. Our school system does not provide us these opportunities in most cases and instead of organizing holiday lessons for students to choke up the time that Homeworks omitted, they should be encouraged to explore their creative abilities, explore the walls outside school and learn how to navigate life. Too much Homework serve only one goal and that is, students been overloaded and yet under prepared to fit into the larger society outside of school. So in the end, the adage, LESS IS MORE is true because students learn more when the presure of meeting up with daily Homework is removed.
hihia Lynda wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org