Homework: how much is too much?

EDIFYING It isn't about the quantity of homework that matters, but the quality, enlightens Srijaya Char

Homework: how much is too much?

I was witness to a conversation between a parent and child about homework. “I will not be able to come with you to grandma’s house today. I have a lot of homework to do,” said 10-year-old Satish.

“Tomorrow is Saturday son; and you have your Sunday too. Can’t you do your homework in those two days?” Asked his mom.

“No, I need to complete my project during this weekend; otherwise I will get a zero in my Internals,” He said.

“Do you mean to say that you will stay at home for this weekend doing your homework?” Asked the parent.

“What else? You are the one who put me in school; and you are the one who have been telling me that I should do well in studies,” He stormed.

School work that consumes whole evening and all of the weekends to both the children and their parents can be labeled as “too much homework”. If it cuts into play time, dinner time and family time, then surely it is an overload. Overload of homework affects the psyche of children. When a child of ten or twelve is always busy rushing to get homework done, he/she may not be learning anything. It is just the finishing that matters. This surely defeats the purpose of schooling.

If any complaint goes to the school, teachers are always on the defensive. “Not all children face this difficulty. We are judicious in giving them homework,” They say.
Judicious? In what way? In a class of 40 or 50 students, the teachers are unable to judge the efficiency of each student individually.

There are students who are capable of completing even an overload of homework; but under what cost? There are students who are not capable of handling the load; what about them? If teachers justify themselves with an argument that they need to cater to the majority of students, then what about the others? Infact, the minority needs more care; don’t they?

Homework is supposed to give a student the chance to practice what he/she has learnt in school.

It may be true that practice is important and homework serves an opportunity for students to display their understanding of the day’s lessons, but is it not also true that each individual student measures the quantity of work differently? When students are bogged down with schoolwork it generates ‘negative feelings’ towards studies; and if it goes beyond limits, students may start hating school!

Homework becomes useful when there is ‘quality’ not ‘quantity’ and it is age appropriate. When students are loaded with homework which they cannot comprehend, they end up in just blind copying either from the text or the internet. A lot of students face this situation when time gets crunched.

The teacher in the primary section may assign homework which she thinks would take only 10 minutes; but many a time it takes longer to plough through the work if the child has already spent some six hours at school.

Homework should not become a second shift of work that impedes social time and creative activity. As limiting the quantity of homework is important so also the quality of what is assigned.

When a new concept or a lesson is taught, the teachers expect the students to attempt the exercises at home. This shifts the onus on to parents many of whom might not be fully equipped to teach. This is one of the main reasons why they are sent for tuitions at this stage.

The educational scenario in our country revolves around examinations and home assignments.

In such a context, quality of teachers, student teacher ratio, and availability of teaching resources  are below acceptable norms, and the learning outcome of students is painfully inadequate.

The supplementary remedy for this is not homework.  

Handling homework should not become the effort of parents and tutors. Much of the take-home assignments of students are made compulsory in some schools and this may not benefit the already overworked students.

It seems there is no escape from homework for students from the time they enter school to the time they leave its premises.

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