High School is a time for fun and frolic. It is a time for investing in true friendships, love and the latest gadgets. Well, at least if we go by what they show in the movies. But the reality is something altogether different, isn’t it my friend? The actual reality of high school comprises of vindictive teachers, piles of homework and a mad rush for grades.
In this optimistic struggle for good grades we do anything and everything. We try all sorts of lucky charms from rabbit’s foot to hanging a horse shoe. We draw out complex study plans which would put any business manager to shame. We make extreme time tables which would have impressed our mom, if only we had actually stuck to it. But do we ever think that maybe studying, or homework, could assist us in achieving that out of reach A+?
After all, grades automatically follow if concepts are clear. This brings us to the pertinent question, can homework help to learn and understand?
Pros & Cons
As a student, I am sure it is your firm belief that homework is useless and a big waste of time. Studies are something meant for school and if all the studying is kept for home, then why go to school at all? Well, we understand your sentiments.
But, another school of thought in this regard could be that it actually teaches you about time management. Managing to complete that English essay on a game night takes some skills.
Homework also helps in retaining what is taught in the school. It especially helps with difficult and practical subjects like Mathematics and Science.
Scientific Research involved
For decades educators all around the world have conducted various studies to figure out whether homework impairs or helps in the learning process. The oldest study dates back to 1897, where it was stated that spelling homework had no impact whatsoever on a child’s proficiency to spell.
Since then, there have been many more well conducted researches. All these researches point to two conclusions:
- Homework assists in learning when it is engaging and requires active thinking
- Homework is useful only in case of some children for a reasonable period of time
After decades of arguing over the benefits or the lack of homework, researchers are still trying to assess the value of it. But, one thing for sure is that it does help with retaining what one learns in the classroom.
Research also suggests that homework is most useful in enhancing short term retention (revising for an exam) and can be very helpful while learning a new concept. The trick is to balance the amount of homework given with a student’s capacity.
How much is enough?
A widely accepted rule of thumb for giving homework is the 10 minute grade level. This means that a Grade 2 student will get 20 minutes whereas a high school student in Grade 10 will get around two hours. Junior high isn’t looking too bad now, is it?
A glaring shortcoming of this rule is that senior students cannot be expected to stay at their studies for 2 straight hours every day. Even though, homework aids in learning a subject; an average student has many other commitments to look after.
Types of homework
Another important feature to consider is which type of homework can help students learn better. These can be of various types depending upon the teacher. They can be fill-in-blanks, multiple choices, essay style etc.
Research shows that the kind of homework basically depends upon the grade level. Young grades should be given worksheets so as not to tire them. However, as the grades increase, the students need to shift their thinking to a more logical and analytical style. Sentence construction and portrayal of ideas should become the prime focus.
Quality vs. Quantity
Homework can be a big help in learning school subjects, if, they are prepared judiciously. The need of the hour is to focus on understanding concepts rather than cramming up. Putting stress on quantity is meaningless because it simply hinders creativity.
Homework is a great thing if implemented correctly. It can widen a child’s horizon to accept learning outside of the school. However, the forceful application in today’s teaching is not helping matters.
No one benefits when you become a copycat or a rote machine due to constant pressure from finishing up with the homework. The idea should not be to pressurize a student into submission of studies, but, to inculcate the joy of learning.
Practical learning is always considered far better than bookish knowledge. Teachers globally are shifting their focus from text book teaching to imparting experiences. Teachers are also known to involve parents in helping their students understand study concepts from real life experiences.
When is homework helpful?
If asked, the reply would be never. However, there are many a time when homework actually does more good than bad.
- The weeks before an exam to enhance short term memory
- When one needs more practice in learning a new topic
- When homework is used as a remedial help for lower-achieving students
How to optimize on it?
Sometimes, it’s easier to gulp down the bitter medicine than procrastinate on it. Homework is the bitter truth of your school life and no amount of wishing will make it go away. But, you can capitalize on it.
By diligently focusing on it, you can reduce your study time marginally at term end. A little pain today will go a long way in making your life easier when the exams come.
You can also smarten up and not keep all of the homework waiting till the deadline. Doing a little everyday will help you in retaining your subject material and get the work done altogether. That is two birds with the same stone.
Homework should be designed in a way ensuring learning.It should be just adequate without being too lengthy and take into account a student’s age. Teachers should understand that the sole purpose of studying is to gather knowledge and homework is a double edged sword which should be used wisely.