Homework

When a child comes home from school, the first question that every parent most likely would ask is: “Do you have any homework?” If the answer is ‘yes’, the next step would be to plan how to go about it. If the answer is ‘no’, there is a sigh of relief on both  sides. The case can be reverse too. There are some situations where parents really get concerned when the child comes with no homework.

What is the great deal about homework? What is the concept behind homework? Well, logically homework is given so that the children reiterate what has been taught in the schools. Especially, during vacations or holidays, homework is considered as an aid so that the children do not forget what they have learnt in the school. If that is the actual purpose, then why are numerous helpline stores mushrooming that offer to help the parents and the students with homework and school projects?

Believe it or not, these stores know exactly the type of homework that each school would give and hence keep them ready. The parents only have to go and tell the name of the school and the subject, and the shop would have the projects ready – model of solar system, life cycle of plants, you name it, and they will have it. Besides this, there are several websites that solve students’ Maths papers and take up English or Science assignments on behalf of the students.

What is the purpose of homework?

If then the motive of homework is to enable children to learn and reconfirm the concepts, how are these stores and websites contributing to it?

This may be precisely why the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is conducting a survey to know about the efficiency of homework and if there can be any alternative to homework in the schools. The CBSE has come up with a feedback mechanism which is in a questionnaire format and is meant for teachers, students and school principals. The questionnaire will capture their views on homework and explore the need for an alternative, if at all.

As per the CBSE, homework is defined as an instructional strategy that provides opportunities to students to review and consolidate what they have learnt in the classroom, hone their skills and develop thinking faculties through independent learning.

Having said this, the Board is itself not very convinced that the basic purpose of homework is getting served in today’s educational arena. On one hand, it believes that there are many schools where teachers feel homework is a burden and parents and students find it monotonous and time consuming. On the other hand, the CBSE has also observed that many schools are coming up with innovative, meaningful and interesting assignments for their students. However, there are still several schools that follow the routine homework pattern as part of the rule.

Even while the CBSE is deciding upon the relevance of homework, it is also questioning if same homework should be given to all the children, rather than being student specific. While the CBSE continues its survey, here are a few negatives and positives about homework.

What is bad about homework? 

Immense stress: A recent study carried out by a leading global university revealed that too much homework can have an adverse effect on learning. About 4,317 students took part in the survey and about 56 percent revealed that they were stressed about homework and could not concentrate on their studies. Those who felt homework was not a stress were less than one percent.

Compromising on extracurricular activities: Most of the students felt that homework did not allow them any free time to indulge in extra-curricular activities, thus leading to a dull life. This, in turn, was having an adverse effect on their overall development.

Compromising on health: Many students cited that homework usually led to less of sleep, ultimately leading to health problems like exhaustion, headaches, stomach problems and weight issues.

What is good about homework? 

Sense of responsibility: The benefit of homework may not be purely academic. Homework, in fact, is believed to develop responsibility in students. It teaches them life skills and motivates them to learn more. Homework also enables a child to cope with distractions and manage time better.

A routine: With regular inflow of homework, a set type of routine is established, where a child becomes attuned to come back home and finish his or her work. Later, this behaviour may kind of set a disciplined routine in a child’s life.

Continuity in studies: Regular homework keeps a child in touch with his or her studies throughout. This comes of great use during exams as the child is already familiar with the syllabus and the lessons.

Conclusion

It may take a while for the CBSE to come to a conclusion as to whether homework is relevant or not. If relevant, then what should be the quantum of homework. As these concerns persist, a fact remains true, which is, that children attend schools to gain knowledge, so any type of homework that will support the increase of knowledge in the children would be welcome.

As long as there is a connection between homework and learning, homework will always have a positive impact on the children. And here learning would mean, where a child actually wants to know more about a subject and homework acts as a supplement that the child looks forward to explore as soon as he reaches home. The day we can achieve this, no parent would feel the need to ask if there is homework because ‘homework’ will no longer seem like work but will be something that both the child and the parents would be looking forward to.