Homework doesn’t contribute to learning
Should students be given homework?
That question popped up in my mind when I remembered that, as a high school student, I spent holidays doing many projects and working on a pile of homework. I recall sleeping at a friend’s house to finish a research assignment.
I wondered then why we were given assignments on holidays when we were supposed to be on school break. But I was afraid to ask my teachers.
All I could do was accomplish all the assignments in almost 10 subjects. I felt I had no choice if I wanted to remain at the top of the class.
On Saturdays and Sundays, I did not have the luxury of hanging out with my friends. Only very rarely was I able to do so. Most of the time, I was on the floor from morning to afternoon solving this and that, writing this and that, and answering this and that.
I spent my weekends as if I were still in a classroom, except that I was alone and there was no teacher.
Luckily, I was able to survive the holiday disappointments.
Not even on school days
Today I am a teacher myself. But unlike those who taught me, I do not believe in giving assignments, not only on holidays but even on school days.
It may surprise many people why this teacher feels this way.
When I was a new teacher, I gave assignments every day because I wanted my students to be busy at home. I wanted them to affirm at home what they learned in the classroom. I wanted them to continue studying because I wanted them to continue improving themselves.
But I was often disappointed. Some students claimed their parents did not let them do their homework and made them sleep early.
Only a few did the homework. But how were the others able to submit their assignments? Some, I found out, just copied the answers from their classmates.
As a student, I felt that assignments were intrusions on my private life. They were like chains that prevented me from moving freely around and outside the house.
Now that I am a teacher, I believe even more strongly that students should not be given homework. Students dislike them so much. For one thing, there are too many assignments.
Mr. Google may have made research easier and this is probably why some teachers give more homework. But there are just too many assignments that students may have to give up sleep to do all of them.
Students have 11 to 13 subjects a day. Imagine how much work they will have to do if they are given assignments in all those subjects.
Some teachers might say that they do not need long answers. That may be all right for students who just want to pass but not for those who want to get high marks.
Not so simple and easy
There are teachers who think their assignments are simple and easy, but some students do not want to settle for simple and easy answers. Some write down all possible answers to a very simple question.
Teachers may say it is up to the student whether to sleep or not, but does that make sense?
Why do teachers give assignments in the first place? Do they want students to keep learning even at home?
I am not sure that assignments will accomplish that. Homework does not guarantee better performance in school. How many students really do their homework? How many do excellent work? How many work by themselves?
Do teachers want students to be ready for classroom discussion so they can impress the principal or coordinator when he/she comes to observe? If that is the reason, then teachers are giving assignments to serve their own interests.
Assignments, especially if there are too many, are not necessary. Learning a subject should really take place in the classroom. Advanced students can continue learning outside the classroom because, by nature, they are inclined to absorb everything they are interested in.
So let us leave students free to explore new things in life by not giving assignments. Let them rest and relax at home. Let them enjoy being young.
Students spend half of their lives in school. Let us not add to their burden.
The writer teaches Grade 10 English at Las Piñas City National Science High School. He is also the English department coordinator and schoolpaper adviser.
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