Homework’s where the learning is

Homework’s where the learning is

Assign homework to students based on their interests. It could be something creative.

Homework has always played a vital role in the entire education framework. It may be understood as a universal and a supplementary method used by the teachers to aid the learning process. It is used across the world at both elementary and secondary level. 

Essentially, homework refers to any work that is done by the child at home, and is helpful in reinforcing what he or she has studied in school. It also helps prepare the ground for future learning. One should know that it need not always be written work, it may be a task of memorising, reading or learning the names of places, etc. 

 There is a wide range of opinions with regard to homework, both for and against the practice. Some people criticise the amount of homework given to students in schools. However, this does not mean they are against the concept. Generally, parents approve of homework, as long as it helps their child make progress.

Homework, if well-planned and properly assigned can add a lot of value to the student’s progress. However, some parents complain that excessive homework retards the child’s all round development. It also leads to careless work habits and a detrimental attitude towards school life because of the burden. 

What must be the goal

In an ideal scenario, homework must:

Stimulate initiative, independence, responsibility, emotional stability and self-direction.

Enrich the school experience and be a link between previous and present learning. 

Reinforce learning in terms of practice and application. 

Encourage students to consult books other than prescribed textbooks. 

Individualise instruction and motivate students to pursue the topic further.

 In order to achieve the aforementioned objectives, homework needs to designed in such a way that it is creative, interesting and useful. All homework needs to properly corrected and valued too. 

Homework may be regarded as a continuum; on one end are mechanical exercises required of all students; while at the other end are creative projects or experiments undertaken voluntarily by individual pupils.

Able learners in high school say that they like the following kinds of homework; writing research reports, finding arguments on both sides of controversial issues, solving problems, memorising selections from great literature, using their own ideas, reading a book of their choice and doing experiments with home equipment.

The quality of a student’s homework and guided study is affected by a number of conditions. It depends on whether the curriculum stimulates thinking, evokes creativity and is suited to individual ability. It also depends upon whether the teachers are giving challenging problems to the students for home assignments, thereby teaching them to study effectively; and on whether home conditions and parental attitudes are favourable.

According to an American educationist, “When excessive tension and pressure are associated with homework, it may affect mental health; students may become depressed and anxious; conflicts may arise between parents and children.’’

In the Indian situation, homework is mostly a written work without any novelty, as a result, in many cases it is done by the parents  instead of children. Those who travel a long distance to school and back find little time to do homework. They also get tired and are unable to concentrate. 

Nowadays, teachers find it very difficult to value all homework. In most cases, teachers will only look at the beginning and insert a signature in the last page. When subject inspectors and other officers visit a school, it seems they insist heavily on the homework of both students and teachers. No doubt, it is good, but the question is, is it possible for an inspecting officer to go through the homework in detail? In many cases, they just look at the big bundle and are satisfied with it, without bothering much about the quality.

Therefore, it helps if the headmaster takes the responsibility of guiding the teachers to turn out quality homework from the students. This is possible only when there is a clear understanding between the headmaster and teachers. Parents’ cooperation is highly valued in this regard.

That said, the following ideas may help the students with regard to quality learning and homework:

 More school time should be devoted towards meaningful learning.

Homework needs to be properly designed. It should have novelty and its objective must be to ensure that the student learns to solve new and different problems with the help of the knowledge gained in the classroom.

Students should be encouraged to do more reading and studying of the kind that will have value in later life.

Students should be allowed more initiative and choice in the matters of what and how to study.

Homowork can be written on sheets and secured in a file, instead of using separate books. This makes evaluation easy on the teacher and also easy for child to carry.

It helps if the teacher is able to visualise the quantum of work and interest of the student in the topic or the task.   

 Possible solution

That apart, homework should be given keeping in view the students’ knowledge, understanding, and application level. For fast and slow learners, assignments should be given according to their ability and capacity. For instance, in some schools students with different learning abilities are given worksheets based on their level and aptitude. Besides, they have customised lesson plans that are tailored to a specific group of students. The main objective here is a kind of learning that does not stress the child, rather it makes it a fun experience. 

Lastly, it may be said that unless the teachers realise and change their attitude towards the concept of homework on sound rational lines, there is every possibility of homework becoming oppressive and it may inflict incalculable moral, intellectual and physical injury on the pupils. Therefore, positive steps should be taken to make homework a challenging and interesting task.

(The author is former faculty,
Regional Institute of Education,

NCERT, Mysuru)

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