At school, study is organised for the students. Photo / 123RF

These sound like great times to be at school, as a pupil or teacher.

Testing for national standards is about to be abolished, NCEA pass rate targets are almost certain to go, and today we report the worth of assigning (and marking) homework is being questioned.

A survey of teachers, parents and students by a researcher at Massey University has found more than a third of them doubt the value of homework, 37 per cent of the teachers and pupils and 38 per cent of the parents.

Far higher proportions agreed homework was stressful, made them tired or frustrated and left little time for other activities in the evening. But obviously many thought the time, trouble and stress was worthwhile.

Homework can be a bugbear for parents as well as pupils, not to mention the marking load for teachers.

For primary school pupils, homework is liable to be an elaborate project that requires as much effort from the parent as the child. Secondary school homework may be entirely the student’s work but many a parent has to work hard to keep them at it.

For all that, it is worthwhile. Homework can give young people necessary work habits. At school, study is organised for them. They are told where to be when and what to do. Even in modern education where they are helped to find out things for themselves and work at their own pace, they are organised and supervised at school.

Not so at home, or at least, not as much. The value of homework is that the student must plan his or her evening, deciding when to do it and what else they can make time to do. If it leaves them “too little time” to do things they prefer, that is a valuable lesson. Life is like that.

Homework also enables students to find out what they have absorbed of lessons at school, what they thought they understood but now do not, or have forgotten. Often, just the time to concentrate alone, away from the classroom, helps to clarify and cement the information and skills required.

Although a third of pupils, parents and even teachers may think homework a waste of their time, it is gratifying that two-thirds do not. Obviously, it can be overdone, work-life balance is important. But work habits are vital and those are best learned at home.

Source: NZ Herald


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