HOMEWORK? MAIS NON!
It’s every kid’s dream. Homework. Banned. By the highest office in the land.
French President Francois Hollande is proposing the ban on homework for kids up to the age of 11 as part of a raft of proposed education reforms.
“Work should be done at school rather than at home,” he said in announcing his plans.
French President, Francois Hollande is proposing a ban on school homework. Photo via AFP/Getty.
Some wags have suggested that he’s trying to win the hearts and minds of future voters, but the reason behind Hollande’s call for a ban on schoolwork in the home is the concept of equality.
Egalite. One of the three pillars of French society, the other two being Liberte, and Fraternite.
Hollande believes that it’s not fair that some kids get help with homework and assignments at home, while kids from disadvantaged families don’t. In banning homework altogether and confining schoolwork to school hours, Hollande believes he will even the educational playing field.
He is also proposing an extended school week, from four days to four and a half.
and more teachers in his reforms.
French children already have long school days – from 8.30 to 4.30 – but according to France 24, their test scores are higher than the European average.
Is there a connection?
According to the Wall Street Journal, a German high school is test-running a new homework ban “after an earlier reform lengthened the school day and crowded out time for extra-curriculars such as sports or music.”
In another school in Maryland in the US, an elementary school has banned homework in favour of 30 minutes of general reading at home.
Over the decades, attitudes to homework have changed. To demonstrate how far things have changed The Washington Post, writing about Hollande’s proposal, reported that in the 1930s the influential magazine Ladies’ Home Journal declared homework “barbarous.” In the early 1900s it was believed by some in the medical community to cause tuberculosis and that children were better off playing outside.
In Australia, like everywhere in the developed world, educators and parents have long been divided about the value of homework.
One year you’ll get a teacher who strictly demands primary schoolchildren stay on top of it; the next, you’ll get one who doesn’t seem to care either way.
According to the Aussie Educators website, arguments in favour of homework include: it provides an opportunity for parents and children to interact; it leads to good study patterns for when you are an older student; it promotes good time management and research skills; that there isn’t enough time in the school day to learn what needs to be learned; and that rote learning is important.
Arguments against include: that parents demand it rather than the educators; that parents often end up doing too much of it; that a one size fits all approach doesn’t work; and that a supportive home environment might not be available for every student.
Which neatly brings us back to Francois Hollande.
What do you think of his proposal?
Do you get too involved in your children’s homework, or do you believe that it’s up to schools to be in charge of this part of your child’s life?