Is School Homework Harmful or Helpful?

There is a longstanding tradition of instructors assigning homework to students as a means to further their education. It is generally accepted that homework helps students improve their grades and pass courses based on the measured improvement that comes from homework assignments. But for many decades there have been a growing number of detractors who say homework as a tool for learning is outdated and may actually be causing more harm than good. Here are some of the pros and cons:

Pros of School Homework

Those who feel homework is helpful point to the benefits that come from aligning specific assignments with lessons learned in class. They claim that homework is a strategic extension of classwork that provides practice with content, concepts and skills that allow students to develop a deep understanding of a particular subject and increases their chances to achieve later in life.

Homework is viewed as especially helpful to students who have trouble with lessons in class. The additional work supplements their learning and increases their chances of passing standardized tests, where before their success would be measured only by their performance in class.

Furthermore, it is believed that homework develops study habits, self-discipline and time management skills. It is an essential out of class exercise that gives students years of practice and preparation for their future professional lives.

Cons of School Homework

Those who insist school homework is harmful believe that there are some factors that aren’t considered. For one, parents and families are asked to be active when it comes to student homework, but for some families this simply isn’t an option. Another factor that isn’t considered is that some students don’t have resources such as internet or computer access to complete some assignments. In both these cases, it is common for students to fall behind in class.

There is also the danger that students will often grow tired of seemingly meaningless work and will eventually ignore assignments and fall behind. Students who find homework assignments too difficult are also in danger of failing since they are often discouraged from taking initiative and seeking help.

Lastly, school homework is rarely corrected quickly enough to reinforce classroom lessons. Because of this, students actually start losing interest and take assignments less seriously.

After hearing the pros and cons of assigning students homework, the issue may seem even more complicated than before. Perhaps the solution rests somewhere in the middle. Educators could take a more balanced approach, where the time spent on homework aligns with the student’s grade level or age. But this approach also requires that the assignments be relevant to the core concepts learned in class. No matter which direction we go, it is clear the debate will go on for years to come.


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