Is homework beneficial? Because a lot of students would protest that more than half of their days are already spent in school. It doesn’t make sense that when they’re finally able to go home, there’s more school work that needs to be done. Is homework harmful or helpful? Let’s discuss why students are given homework and whether it’s truly beneficial.
The Inventor of Homework
One of the mysteries surrounding homework that needs debunking is its inventor. A man named Roberto Nevilis, a Venice-based teacher in 1095 has been claimed to be the inventor of homework. Supposedly, homework was a form of punishment for underperforming students in his class. However, there are no credible sources available to prove these claims. According to Through Education, Roberto Nevilis did not even exist.
The claim that the origin of homework dates back to the year 1095 on its own is already questionable. It has been reported that formal education had not existed in the Western part of the globe that year. English nobility for example, only had private tutors up until the 1500s. Then again, the earliest accounts of formal education already existed during the 1st millennium BCE in ancient China during the Zhou dynasty. But whether they had homework back then would also be questionable and has not been accounted for.
During the 18th century, the Habsburg Austrian Empire and Prussia had what was called “Volksschule” or People’s School. A state-supported, mandatory education system. Pupils during this time were given assignments to complete on their own time.19th-century politician and educator, Horace Mann, observed the Volksschule system during his visit to Prussia in 1843. He could have been the first to answer “is homework beneficial?”, being that he brought concepts of Volkscshule back to America. The most notable of which was homework.
Earliest Accounts of Anti-Homework Sentients in America
While Horace Mann helped develop a government-regulated and tax-funded public education system in America, not all of his ideas were widely accepted. The earliest account of the Homework Ban in America happened in the state of California in 1901. This was just a few years after homework was adopted and the ban lasted until 1915. During this time, The New York Times, a reputable news outlet, published articles that claimed homework was “detrimental” to children’s health. These were based on statements from parents and medical professionals. Homework was even considered as child labor in the 1930s. And since child labor was already illegal during this time, it didn’t help convince the general public of the benefits of homework.
Clearly, not everyone joined Horace Mann’s idea of bringing homework to America. And even to this day, many would agree with anti-homework sentiments. This truly begs the question of “is homework beneficial?” And how does homework benefit students?
What High School Students Think of Homework
So we know that some educators and parents aren’t the biggest fans of homework. But at the end of the day, they aren’t its target demographic. After all, the burden of homework falls on students. So what do students think about when they’re asked “is homework beneficial?”
In 2014, Stanford surveyed students’ perceptions of homework. From 10 high-performing schools in California, 4,317 students were surveyed and the study pinpointed 3 results of having too much homework: Greater stress, reduction in health, and less time for friends, family, and extracurriculars.
58% of over 4,000 students considered homework as their primary source of stress compared to only 1% of students who said homework was not a stressor. The other 41% of the surveyed population identified tests and pressure to get good grades as their top stressors.
Many students also expressed health concerns surrounding too much homework. They claimed in the open-ended answer portion of the survey that too much homework led to sleep deprivation and other health problems.
The researchers also found that too much homework leaves students unable to meet their developmental needs or the ability to cultivate other critical life skills.
It’s safe to say that parents share concerns with some educators about how homework affects the youth. High school students definitely aren’t the biggest fans of homework considering that they are tasked with more difficult assignments compared to younger students. Understandably, they rebel against tasks to be completed during hours at home.
The General Consensus on Homework
Older people, or people who have already graduated high school or college often recall school as one of the easiest, happiest times of their lives. In hindsight, they just couldn’t fathom how life as an adult would mean even less time for leisure, more responsibilities, and insurmountable obligations. Sound familiar? These are all things that students feel about homework. At their young age, they don’t realize the reason they are being trained by their educational institutions through homework – the values of time-management, responsibility, and problem-solving are all things people need in their lives to lead normal and healthy lifestyles. Adults later on in life realize that what the future holds for them could not even compare to the kind of problems they had when they were younger, such as mere homework. Students might think homework is unnecessary but the lesson it teaches benefits them in the long run.
Students hate the fact that they can’t seem to catch a real “break” from school because they are constantly and consistently tasked with doing more work outside of their campus confines. Oftentimes, we are all guilty of taking advantage of good things in our lives and only realizing what we’ve lost when it’s gone. Learning has always been a privilege. In olden times, only those who could afford it, or people of nobility and stature were allowed or had access to information and education. In our modern society, most of us have forgotten the struggles of those before us who have paved the way for us to enjoy the simple perks, freedoms, and rights that we can so casually dismiss. But we don’t expect children to understand this. This is something that they’ll come to realize much later in life. And some might not even come to this conclusion.
Every Reason Why Students Hate Homework
Most students when asked “is homework beneficial?” would say no. Until students grow up to be wiser individuals, here are all the reasons why they, despite being convinced otherwise, hate homework.
1. Homework is too tedious and time-consuming.
2. There never feels like enough time to complete your homework.
3. There is simply too much of it. (Imagine having 1 homework per subject in school. Everyday. That does seem like a little overkill, right?)
4. It takes away the students’ personal time.
5. It’s hard. (After all, it’s one thing to complete exercises in school when your classmates and teachers are around to help answer questions. When you’re alone in your room trying to finish your homework, it gets difficult.)
6. It causes unnecessary stress.
7. The inability to complete assignments independently makes you feel like a failure.
8. The possibility of actually failing because of not passing homework causes anxiety.
9. It’s a distraction from social media. (Students already aren’t allowed to use phones in class and now they can’t even scroll on social media in peace without worrying about completing homework.)
10. It’s so boring.
11. Home environment can be distracting. (How do we convince students to do their homework when their beds are literally right there!)
12. It’s a total vibe kill. (No explanation needed.)
13. It takes away creativity and inspiration. (Somehow the forced aspect of doing homework is not ideal for students.)
Is Homework Beneficial? What The Sources Say
Plenty of sources have differing opinions on homework. Some answer the question of why is homework necessary? Some say homework doesn’t help, and some answer how homework helps students. Here’s what the sources say.
● According to Kralovec and Buell in their book “The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning” published in 2000, homework promotes the culture of corporate-style competitiveness as seen in US work environments that overvalues work and is detrimental to personal and familial well beings of students. Students are also “over-penalized” for not being able to complete homework when it is the result of a lack of conduciveness in their homes which they cannot control.
● The Motivational Benefits of Homework: A Social-Cognitive Perspective” by Janine Bempechat aimed to answer “how does homework help you?” Homework actually develops how children perceive achievement and how to be motivated mature learners. Through homework, students learn strategic ways to cope with their mistakes, navigate through setbacks, and persevere through difficulties.
● In “The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It” written by Bennett and Kalish, the authors criticize both the quality and quantity of homework. One of the cons of too much homework is the strain it puts on parents and their relationship with their children. The teachers’ lack of training when it comes to assigning homework causes strains on students’ family time and even their health.
The same source reports that 50 percent of parents who were surveyed by the nonprofit, nonpartisan research group Public Agenda, have had serious arguments with their children about homework. This further emphasizes the strain homework places not just on students but on their parents as well.
● From the same research by Harris Cooper et al on “Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement: A Synthesis Of Research” they specified that older students tend to reap the most benefits out of doing homework. This is due to their ability to tune out distractions and have more effective study habits. But still, teachers assign homework to younger students because it does help them develop time management skills and then they are able to make better study habits as seen on older students.
● In 2006, authors Harris Cooper, Jorgianne Robinson, and Erika Patall published “Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research.” The findings of this research concluded that there was no evidence that homework improves academic performances in elementary students. There was only a “moderate correlation between homework and the performance of students in middle school.” For high school students, the effectiveness of homework seemed to diminish and was even counterproductive when assigned too much. The research mostly correlated the time spent doing homework with grades and test scores. The research revealed that the correlation was “nearly non-existent” for students in grades 3 to 5. The correlation for grades 6 to 9 was “extremely low.”
● In “Homework for Students with Learning Disabilities: The Implications of Research for Policy and Practice” by Harris Cooper and Barbara Nye, given the appropriate supervision and monitoring, students with learning disabilities are able to reap benefits as well. These include better retention of knowledge, increased understanding, and better concept formation among many others. There are also non academic benefits such as learning self-direction and self-discipline.
● “National Differences, Global Similarities: World Culture and the Future of Schooling” by David P. Baker and Gerald K. LeTendre aimed to answer the question on does homework improve test scores? Students in nations where teachers assigned more homework tended to do worse on achievement tests. In countries like Japan, the Czech Republic, and Denmark, where teachers assigned little to no homework, students scored higher in achievement tests.
While there are sources that claim why homework is not beneficial, there are also plenty that say why is homework good. What we can learn from these studies is that they are proper ways of assigning homework because all students are susceptible to burnout.
The Positive Effects of Homework
So when is homework beneficial? According to Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing, there are certain types of assignments that can be deemed beneficial to students. Examples of these home-appropriate assignments are kitchen experiments and activities that can involve family members such as completing puzzles, watching informative videos, and reading. Homework can be more beneficial too when teachers involve the students in how much homework they should do.
Aside from the aforementioned sources that found little to no correlation between homework and good academic performance, some sources would suggest otherwise. A study in 1986 by Hill, Spencer, Alston, and Fitzgerald found that there is a positive link between homework and student achievement. The study reported that homework is an inexpensive way to improve students’ academic performance without having to increase faculty staff or make curriculum modifications.
10 Reasons Why Homework is Beneficial
Regardless of the disadvantages and homework bans, the answer to “is homework beneficial” would still be a resounding yes. Students might not agree with this and even some educators would argue that fact. So how is homework beneficial?
1. Homework teaches students the value of time management and how to practice it.
Homework is one of the first practices students get when it comes to managing what little responsibilities they have before they graduate into adulthood. The compulsory nature of homework teaches students very early on how to multitask.
2. Homework helps students in learning how to set priorities.
Without homework, students would most likely use their leisure time playing video games, hanging out with friends, and simply idling by at home. Homework reinforces the idea of learning being of utmost importance during this time in their lives. By having homework as one of their main obligations, they learn how to prioritize things that might not be enjoyable to them, but ultimately are beneficial to them in the long run.
3. Homework provides teachers insight into whether students truly understand their lessons.
Students, when surrounded by their peers and classmates, can have a much easier time completing assignments. This is because teamwork is at play and bouncing off ideas is possible. But when students are tasked with assignments to be done at home, it serves as a test of independence. Teachers can closely monitor who amongst their students truly understands the lessons on their own. Teachers would also be able to pinpoint which of their students need more help understanding certain lessons based on how well they do their homework.
4. Homework ensures that students review class material
Sometimes, students study only for the sake of recitation and then completely forget the lessons later on. Reinforcement of lessons is important for children and young adults who are learning new concepts entirely. Homework allows them to review class material. While not enjoyable, it does increase the chances of them fully comprehending the lessons better.
5. Homework teaches students the importance of knowing how to solve problems on their own.
Students will not always have their teachers, parents, and classmates around to help them. Homework is a great way to practice thinking on their own. Students can really lean into their instincts when it comes to solving their problems in the form of homework.
6. Homework allows the students’ parents insight into what they are learning.
While there are sources that claim homework is harmful to students and their relationship with their parents, when done right, homework can actually bond families. With the right type of assignments, parents and their children can spend time re-learning together. Parents can be assured that their children are learning and that their investment in their education is worth it. Seeing their children growing up to be responsible individuals who are constantly willing to learn helps parents feel fulfilled in their duties.
7. Homework teaches students how to be accountable for themselves when it comes to learning.
Students need to learn accountability at some point in their lives and homework is one way to do it. Whether they do it right, do it wrong, or don’t do it at all. Learning how to account for their actions and knowing the consequences that lead to them will steer them into making better decisions later on. If a student is reprimanded for not completing their homework and getting lower grades, they will associate that with the action of not putting the right effort into doing their tasks. In the future, we can hope they apply these lessons and learn to do the right thing to get more fruitful results.
8. Homework teaches students the lesson that in life, not everything goes according to them.
A lesson everyone eventually learns in life is that not everything will go according to plan. Some sacrifices that need to be made in order to grow. Homework might take students away from doing what they want on their own time, but as they grow older, they will realize these small practices will lead to better habits. They will start to learn their ways of getting things done and develop their unique work ethics.
9. Homework teaches students independence
One of the pros of homework is providing an opportunity for students to be independent. Besides reinforcing the lessons they are taught in class, students also learn the value of depending on themselves to complete tasks. Independent learning also gives students the ability to know what learning methods work best for them. Being able to accomplish tasks like homework on their own boosts their confidence. With this, they will be able to take on more responsibility as a result of leaning into their independence.
10. Homework teaches students organization, the ability to take action, and planning ahead.
These are all vital skills people need in life and homework serves as great practice and starting point for students to learn. Homework sounds like a simple enough task, but for younger students, it does entail a lot of focus. They learn the importance of organization to proceed with their plans on how to complete an assignment. The opportunity to practice these skills is just one of the many reasons why homework is good.
Homework Is Here To Stay
Whether students enjoy it or not, there is no telling that the idea of homework will ever be abolished. After all, the way the educational system is structured has barely changed over the years if not only for forced adaptations like we’ve recently seen during the time of COVID-19. And even during a pandemic, students were not able to escape homework. In fact, since everyone was on lockdown, you could technically count the whole school year as homework.
The younger generation is considered more malleable than their older counterparts. While they have the most ability to be molded into wiser individuals, it doesn’t mean that they will always be accustomed to the rigid structures of formal education. Children will rebel and question existing cultures which are both a blessing and a curse. Their curiosity will make way for new ideas and create innovative ways, but it will challenge pre-existing norms that are sometimes to their detriment. This is the reason it’s important to educate and inform our youth. It’s important to instill in them values. It is important to provide them with the tools they will need later in life. Many of them will be resistant but it is for a greater purpose that we can all only hope they sooner or later understand.
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