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With the start of the school year, students start complaining about school and education, in general. They don't want to return to the same cage that prevents them from having entertainment and leisure time in their life. When you ask them why they hate school, a common answer is "A lot of homework." Yes, homework, which is known as a way to improve students' skills, is the main reason students feel negatively toward education. Nowadays, many educators believe that homework is useless and has no advantages or effects on students' performance. A study in the late 1990s states that the proportion of 6- to 8-year-olds who reported having homework on a given day had climbed from 34% in 1981 to 58% in 1997 and that the weekly time spent studying more than doubled during the same period. Professor Sandra Hofferth at the University of Maryland released an update to that study. Now, the proportion of young children who had homework on a specific day jumped to 64%, and the time they spent on it climbed by a third. Homework rates for 6- to 8-year-olds are virtually equivalent to those for 9- to 12-year-olds (Khon, 2006). And let's not talk about the high school workload. Students should have an alternative mixture of activities in the classroom which can help them develop a whole range of skills, including independent learning. Therefore, homework should be abolished from primary schools and limited in secondary schools.
In 2008, the elementary school of Temple Israel of Hollywood abolished homework. The school took this step as an experiment to find out the results. After one year of using this new strategy, the school didn't notice any change in the standardized tests scores (Hoder, 2007). This result leads us to one conclusion: Homework adds nothing to the time spent at school. In describing the results of their analysis of student performance across 50 countries, which was published last year, Pennsylvania State University researchers David Baker and Gerald LeTendre said: "Not only did we fail to find any positive relationships," but "the overall correlations between national average student achievement and national averages in (amount of homework assigned) ... are all negative" (Kohn, 2006). Students spend most of their day studying at school. This time is enough for elementary students. Harris Cooper, a psychology professor in Duke University, is widely considered one of the nation's leading researchers on homework. He has found that there is no positive correlation between heavy homework loads for elementary-age students and academic achievement. "Kids burn out," he said. "Homework for young students should be short" and "lead to success without much struggle." He suggests that elementary-age students' homework should be reading only (Hoder, 2007). In fact, reading short interesting stories or books help them achieve more. They will increase their reading speed, learn new vocabulary, and collect information that will stick in their minds for a long time.
What about middle school and high school? It is a little bit different from elementary school, but students there have the same feeling toward homework. It does not have a great impact on students' performance. However, no one can deny that homework is academically beneficial for the students in these grades because the subjects taught in the middle and high schools are tougher and need to be reviewed regularly, but still the amount of homework should be limited. Professor Cooper suggests using the "10-minute rule," which proposes that teachers add 10 minutes of homework each night as students' progress from grade to grade starting with 30 minutes per night for grade 7 (Hoder, 2007).
Homework makes students think negatively about education and puts them off learning. First, let us start with the elementary-school students. On this age, the child needs to spend a huge energy on entertainment. Unfortunately, there are always school duties that prevent them from having entertainment. As a result they try to avoid doing the homework as if it is a punishment. "I begged, pleaded, cajoled and screamed for him to finish," said a mother of a boy in the third grade, "He procrastinated, whined, cried and did everything he could to resist" (Hoder, 2007). Moreover, students will suffer punishment if the homework is late or done badly. Therefore, when there is no homework, the child makes a celebration when he gets the freedom to have fun. This is the usual reaction of elementary-age children. On the other hand, homework, also, has consequences on higher grades students. The worst effect of homework on them is that it put them under pressure. During these years, high school students cannot focus just on studying. They have many physical and social duties. For example, building bonds with people is an important part of the life on these ages. Because of the confusion between the school duties and the other duties, the student becomes fatigued. They get weary from bodily and mental exertion. High school students always think of college years where the work is very hard because they hear about how college students stay up all night to finish their assignments. So high school students try to relax in high school years but they can't because of the increasing amount of homework year after year. This is what brings the huge stress on them. According to Scott Conroy, we can see the stress by some indicators like cheating and substance abuse (2007).
In addition, students learn from real life activities more than the abstract subjects. By being involved in the society around them, the young generation can experience many beneficial activities. Rather than spending more time on the things that they have studied in the morning, the students can practice a sport, join a club, or just go outside and meet new people. Being a geek who just gets as is not the demand of this century. In the current times, all strong universities look for a perfect student who is not only good academically, but also has skills that qualify him to participate in society and to make an impact in the world. This kind of student is very rare these days because of the time wasted on the unnecessary homework assignments.
Talking about grades and assessment, does homework measure students' abilities? It, absolutely, does not. First of all, Homework is almost always done when a child is already tired from a long day at school. As a result, few students are at their best when they sit down in the evening to yet more work. Homework ends up being done in a hurry, by students fighting fatigue, and poor quality work is produced. So there is no way that this work shows the student's real abilities. Secondly, the homework might be done by another person, maybe someone from the family, or copied from another student. If the teacher relied on the homework to assess students, he or she would overestimate or underestimate the student's abilities.
Some people think that homework is one of the ways in which the student's family can be involved with their learning. Actually, homework should be a class issue. In school everyone is equal, but at home some people have advantages because of their family background. As Jennifer Nelson says, Middle-class families with books and computers will be able to help their children much more than poorer ones can. This can mean working class children end up with worse grades and more punishments for undone or badly done homework. On the other hand, "pushy parents" may even end up doing their kids' homework for them. She considers this as cheating (2007). In addition, lower-class students will have psychological problems like losing their confidence. When these poor children see how other children do their homework perfectly and how the teacher appreciates their work, they will think that education is not for poor people and their lives will end up like their parents. Because of these reasons, it will be better for the teachers to give the students an extra hour to do their homework at school where everyone is equal.
Teachers will also benefit from banning homework. Checking and marking students' homework ties up much of the teachers' time. This leaves teachers tired and with little time to prepare more effective, inspiring lessons. Dr. Mary Bousted, the leader of the association of teachers and lecturers, asked, representing all teachers, for banning homework, especially from elementary school. She said that making this step will benefit the student as well as the teacher (BBC, 2008). Moreover, the heavy workload on teachers puts young graduates off becoming teachers, and so reduces the talent pool from which schools can recruit.
In conclusion, if the homework does not affect the student's performance and does not measure his abilities, why do we still use this unsuccessful method? Even if they are the minority of the schools, these schools which stopped using homework are getting great results. Students are performing better without any stress. They have the time to participate in the community and to relax. Science and education have never been just by studying specific subjects and performing duties. They require having a whole range of skills including the real life experience. By abolishing homework, students will get the education they need from school and in the same time enjoy their lives without any unnecessary duties preventing them.