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How much homework is enough for students? August 7, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in Children n Students, National Issues.
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What is your homework policy?

I happened to be discussing about school education and child upbringing with one senior bureaucrat recently. The officer’s son was studying in one of the most prestigious ( & costly too!) school in the town, however he was still seemingly unhappy about his child’s performance at school and at home. He said, “Ajit Ji, readymade Maggy ko pani mein ubal ke agar gharwali khana parosegi to usne khana banaya bolenge kya?” ( If the housewife buys a ready to eat food, just boil’s it and arranges it for you to eat, will she be given the credit of preparing a good food?). I said, Not really. That’s what is happening to our children today. His complaint was that for every home work assignment which his son gets, he prefers to surf the internet, download the data, do a bit of copy-paste-reformat and finish the homework. I am afraid tomorrow he may upload his homework on face book and update the status!

When parent’s meet what they most of the time discuss and speak is about their children. A variety of ideas and information gets churned out in such discussions. One lady who shifted her son to a new school, feels it’s a very good school only because back home she had never seen her son so immoderately busy with his homework. In her words, “Now a day’s my son ‘studies’ a lot!” Actually her son is most of the times busy completing his homework.  On the contrary here is one senior banker who curses his son’s school like anything. What they tell the child to do at home is only to copy down the matter from textbook to homework copy. Worst is this that most of the time his son is on a multitasking mode. He does all his topo job (copy work) simultaneously while he is watching those film fare awards or other reality shows on the idiot box ( television). When cross questioned his son has a logical explanation “ Dad, till date not even a single such assignment has been checked by our teacher. She will only put a red colour mark to fulfill her statutory responsibility. Even if I write down the story of DON 2 in between the notes still I can get the “red colour OK mark and signature” from my teacher on the home work submission!”

Friends won’t you agree that doing such homework is just like eating a heavy dose of junk food which has no nourishment but only satisfies the sense of having eaten something!” If there is zero importance to homework given to children, it will only kill the students productive time and make him dull. I recall my school days when if I were to prepare for a debate on any topic first I used to use all my available information in the memory bank to scribble the preliminary framework. Then discuss it with parents and friends to make it more relevant ( obviously we did not have search engines those days!). Finally our teacher used to do the final cut and approve or disapprove the content. On the contrary in today’s era  if a student has to prepare for a debate, I can bet, 95 out of 100 students will log on to google.com and download the content (rest 5 might not have the  “right to internet” at home!)

In the current schooling system I have observed a gross disconnect between school homework and its expected output. Students from various schools share that they get homework from various subject teachers in different periods. Sometimes the summation of homework given by all the subject teachers in a particular day grossly surpasses the students capacity to accommodate. Students from lower classes are sometimes given assignments and projects which are very difficult for them to execute. In one school a class II student got an assignment to make a model of Roads and Buildings. This child has not been prepared to take on such an assignment on his own and as such the project gets outsourced to the kids parents or brother-sisters. This is a typical case of a fruitless home work. In the process the child learns to daringly fake in front of the world when she proclaims that she has done that project on her own! 

Be it an essay contest preparation or any kind of a project work submission there are off line and online companies which offer a readymade solution. This should not sound like news that there are various homework vendors available in big markets who offer to do your child’s homework in exchange of a few rupees! Home work is a booming business in a few metro’s now a days, specially the ‘bulk home work’s’ like summer home work or the winter homework!

Homework is defined as out-of-class tasks assigned to students as an extension or elaboration of classroom lessons. In effect I think, there could be three main purposes of  homework:

  1. Make the student practice at home what has been taught in school.
  2. Make her to prepare for the examinations.
  3. As an extended learning ( skill development and extra curriculum)

A lot of research has been done on the need and relevance of home work given to school children and its relevance in the current context. It has been found that homework is a largely effective in enhancing the student’s performance but only when it is executed by the student in the intended manner. According to a Duke professor of psychology Mr. Harris Cooper, there is a positive correlation between home work and student performance specially for secondary school students. Too much or too little home work, both work against the students learning aptitude. The research suggests assigning of 10 minutes of homework per day per grade-level. Accordingly class I students should get 10 minutes worth of homework while 9th graders can accommodate 90 minutes of homework.

Assigning homework should have educational value and should serve to enhance the learning. It should not attempt to supplement the time constraint in school in order to cover up the full course curriculum.  Homework is a tool which should be effectively and intelligently used by the school administration to leverage intellectual discipline and establishes desirable study habits. It should reinforce the lessons studied in school. As a by-product home work should bring the home and the school as well as the teacher and the parent close to each other.

LESSONS FOR EXCELLENCE :

  • Every school should have a well discussed and properly designed homework policy.
  • Before going for the internet resources, students should be educated and encouraged to at least attempt the first level of assignment with the available resource with him in his mind.
  • Feedback improves the effectiveness of homework, especially when the homework submission is genuinely reviewed and feedback given in a timely manner.
  • Attempt should be made to limit after school activities so that student has enough time to manage various other activities like sports, social networking, relationships etc.
  • Homework should entice the parents to monitor the child’s work at home, but it should not compel them to get into “on the job” execution support at home.

 

Ajit Varwandkar

Email : info@fsindia.in

Comments»

1. Saket - August 7, 2011

Ajit Ji simply tremendous experience.

aglakadam - August 8, 2011

Thanks for the kind words…

2. How much homework is enough for students? « my aglakadam | Mystery Shopper l Mystery Shopping l Secret Shopper - August 7, 2011

sense of having eaten something!” If there is zero importance to homework; Read more here: How much homework is enough for students? « my aglakadam This entry was posted in Work From Home and tagged career, child, credit, homework, internet,


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