For Less Assignments And Alternatives by Olaniyan Evelyn.

     It is important to give students an assignment because it reinforces what they learn at school, and ultimately help them learn the material better. However, too much assignment is not helpful. Excessive time spent on completing an assignment can take away a students’ social life, family time, and also limits the students’ participation in sports or other extra-curricular activities. Therefore, the amount of assignment a teacher can give to students should be restricted, and only assigned due to necessity. For example, a practical like estimating the number of houses in the student’s street which should be done at home.
An author, Tamin Ansary, reports that since 1981, the number of assignments teachers give to students of the average sixth grader has increased by more than fifty percent. Though many teachers defend large amounts of assignments helps prepare students for a competitive world but the truth is, it doesn’t give the students access to their families like they are supposed to have. The author of The End of Homework, Dr. Kralovec, argues that doing homework during school has little or no effect on the successful study skills of students. As an educator, I empathize with the argument that assignments are often random and can take unrealistic amounts of time. Having that in mind, I constantly consider the assignment to be given to my pupils. As each day approaches, I weigh the purpose of assignments and consider if the assignments are making a positive impact not only on the students learning but also on their home school connection with their parents.
Many teachers tend to believe that assignment is their sacred cow, and believe me; I understand the value of assignments as once a student and also an educator. I firmly believe students should practice on their own, this is a great help to their academic performance, but while I believe assignments are important, I have also understood that the number of assignments teachers should give is important.
Many a time’s teachers and even some parents believe busywork is a waste of everyone’s time, but if the assignments are given for busywork, then it is a waste of time indeed. It wastes the students’ time doing it, their parents’ time helping with the assignment, and the teachers’ time tracking and even grading it. I would say, just because a worksheet is part of the curriculum or part of the Teachers lesson, doesn’t mean it should be assigned. If it doesn’t serve the purpose, then what is the essence of using it?
Another reason why fewer assignments should be given is that; more work doesn’t mean more learning. Sometimes, teachers give assignments because they feel like it is studious to do, but giving more assignments doesn’t mean students will learn more, especially if the assignments are busywork, and if the students are overwhelmed. They might even know how to do it correctly.
Family time is valuable to students. Teachers teach students how to relate well with families even in school and giving them much assignment will take away the time they spend with their families. If teachers need students to build a strong relationship, then they need not take up all the time meant to be spent with their families. It is true that for lots of students it is the TV that’s their companion at night instead of spending time with their parents, but that’s not how all students have it. There a different family who loves to relax together in the evening but cannot because their children are occupied with assignments and this has created bridges in many families.
Many assignments cause students in both high school and junior high school to stay up until midnight or even later. When extracurricular activities such as sport, cooking, etc.., are added to the students’ activities, they may even have to wake up early the next morning, thereby cutting short their normal time of sleep. Some teachers and even parents argue that it is beneficial to reduce students’ academic work after their school activities. However, reducing the few hours students are supposed to use for play and exercise could be a factor in increasing obesity rates.
The goal of school should be to teach students how to learn and most importantly to love learning as a lifelong process. No one wants to hand his/her students fish; the goal is to teach them how to fish. Many times, teachers get overwhelmed and give assignments to cover up materials they didn’t have sufficient time to teach in class. Assignments should not be to teach the class, but instead, it should be used to practice what is been taught in class.
There are great ways teachers can reduce assignments for effective learning and a good relationship between students, teachers and parents will be foster. Teachers should eliminate all busywork. Before they give any assignment, they should ask themselves what point is the assignment for.
Teachers can ask students’ to write down how long it took them to complete an assignment. They can be asked to simply track this at the top of their assignment. Though their answers might not be accurate, they should give a general idea. Teachers should endeavour to pay special attention to how long it takes a struggling student to complete their assignments. If it is taking too long, then the teacher needs to be creative to figure out how s/he can shorten the assignment. The goal is to give as little as possible, not to add more even if the students are getting it done quickly.
Some assignments can be turned into classwork. Just because something is given as an assignment doesn’t mean it has to be an assignment. The teachers can find time for the students to do it in class. I believe the quality of work will increase when this is done.
Olaniyan Evelyn, a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife is a God-lover and a professional educator passionate about seeing the best future of every student of the country through the best educational system. She can be reached at
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