The Homework Debate

September 20, 2022

It’s back-to-school season, and most students are starting their second year back in the classroom after months of remote learning. Despite this return to normalcy, many parents still have concerns that their children have fallen behind academically and socially during the COVID pandemic.

Remote learning had its challenges for students, parents, and teachers, alike. With all schoolwork being considered “home” work during this time, many educators had eliminated or reduced traditional homework assignments while remote learning.

Now that classroom learning is back in swing and students are slowly recovering from academic setback, teachers and parents are eager to close the gap. However, some educators have also contemplated the effect that traditional homework may have on students’ mental health and their school-life balance. Particularly in the wake of the pandemic and the return from isolation, many teachers have chosen to prioritize social and emotional health and development, and some have even ditched homework assignments altogether.

Though the educational value of homework has been challenged, many educators still champion its worth as an invaluable educational tool. Homework can be useful not only to students, in providing them with additional practice and opportunity to grasp concepts, but also to teachers as a way to assess individual growth and evaluate the needs of the class.

In debating the value of homework, there are several commonly recognized advantages and disadvantages:

The Pros

  • Reinforces classroom learning
  • Teaches discipline and study habits for higher education
  • Gets parents involved in the learning process
  • Hones time management skills
  • Reduces screen time
  • Gives students a sense of responsibility
  • Allows additional time for students to grasp material concepts
  • Provides teachers with information about academic comprehension

The Cons

  • Fosters negative attitudes toward school and learning
  • Causes stress and anxiety
  • Takes away from time spent with family
  • Contributes to a culture of poor work-life balance
  • Discourages students from partaking in hobbies and getting proper exercise
  • Often occurs alone without supervision or support
  • Disadvantages students without computer or internet access at home

Whether homework is effective or not, is a complicated question, and not one with a clear answer. What works for one student may not work for the next.  However, there are several factors which may boost the effectiveness of homework.

This may include:

  • Involving parents/guardians
  • Hosting study halls or homework clubs
  • Coordinating of teachers to avoid student burnout
  • Engaging peer tutoring programs, and
  • Assessing the individual needs of each student.

Takeaway

While the COVID pandemic and remote-learning have had an undeniable impact on academic achievement and education in general, the age-old question of the value of homework has not been resolved.

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