Homework – what is the value of homework?

parents and children

Homework, do you think it is:

a) a really effective way of promoting independent learning and reinforcing knowledge and understanding or

b) a waste of time that consumes far more effort than it provides for learning rewards?

Whichever side you fall on there is no doubt that homework can trigger all sorts of issues both at home and at school.

As a teacher I can recall having to set homework because it was the school policy. The policy ignored if the homework would be relevant or provide any learning benefits.  It may be the policy propagated the belief that a lot of homework equals a ‘good school’? I can remember marking homework and not seeing a lot of effort.

As a parent I remember the all too often chant ‘Have you done your homework?‘ or the ‘Where is your homework?‘  followed by ‘Have you any homework?‘.

As a student I can remember leaving my homework to the last possible minute or thinking up excuses for having not done it.

There appears to be more time and effort spent avoiding homework at times than there is actually doing it.

It is not all negative though.

As a teacher I can remember being impressed by the passion and enthusiasm some students had for the work. The task was of obvious interest to them and I would have had little indication of this  if it had not been for the homework. It was their opportunity to be in their “element” as Sir Ken Robinson puts it.

As a parent I remember sharing the learning journey and allowing my children to teach me and share in their wonder. This was a fantastic time and brought us together as a family.

As a ‘student‘ I have never stopped having homework. As a lifelong learner you can not avoid it!

In a Linkedin discussion about homework I made the following comment and thought it appropriate to share it to a wider audience.

I think one of the problems, and there are a few, with homework are the ‘what if’ scenarios that occur and often lead to conflict and non productive workload/administration time.

1) What if the homework is not really relevant or supportive of the learning?
2) What if the child does not do it a) at all b) in time or c) well enough to be of any learning value or d) it gets ‘lost’?
3) What if parents don’t get involved in supporting homework?
4) What if the parents do too much ‘support’ in helping complete the homework?
5) What if the homework is set only to meet a policy requirement?
6) What if there is no follow up or consequence for not completing homework?
7) What if only a few in the class do the homework?
8) What if the homework is not about collecting, making or writing it down. How would it be acknowledged?

In an ideal situation we would want the child to have a sense of enquiry, to want to explore and find out more and record it in some way for themselves. I would worry though if this became part of the curriculum, an aspect of the extended school if you like which had a direct or limiting impact on the level of achievement that could be reached. I can see a whole load of ‘what if’ questions popping up if it did.

As has been mentioned it is about having the right balance, children have a right to play, to explore to sit and wonder and for it have nothing to do with a curriculum, life chances or future opportunities.

I believe parents have a crucial role as for as homework is concerned and it is not about insisting there is more. Parents need to be co-explorers in the learning, they need to celebrate inquiry and demonstrate the value by their actions through active involvement.

If we could have a debate about why the school day need to be extended through the use of homework and why school based learning needs to pervade the home perhaps we could identify and share the benefits in a way that makes good use of this additional time.”

What do you think, is it still a case of choice a) or b)?

Find out how Learning Intelligence and homework can work together to improve learning in this article:




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About AcEd

"4c3d" (AcEd) is the abbreviation for Advocating Creativity in education, a company I set up to challenge how we think about and deliver education. The blog champions my concept of Learning intelligence, how we manage our learning environment to meet our learning needs as well as detailing those needs: Power Belonging, Choice and Fun - PBCF. Kevin Hewitson 2019

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