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No more homework? 2016.10.14
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Will students gain more if they are free?

Andrew: Students have too much homework and spend three to four hours every day to finish it. How can anyone with an overwhelming amount of homework learn anything?

Janice: It really depends on the students. I’m OK with devoting one to two hours on homework and revision. More often than not, students who complain that homework is a nuisance are the ones who are not focused or fast enough.

Andrew: So you are saying homework is fine but students are the problem. I say the opposite. Homework should be abolished so students do not have to slog for hours doing boring and repetitive homework at night. They’ll lose the appetite for learning.

Janice: No homework at all? It helps students learn. It refreshes their minds on lessons and cultivates a sense of responsibility. You are being radical.

Andrew: Hold on, there is a difference between homework and assignment. Homework is boring and repetitive while an assignment is challenging and comprehensive. I think it is necessary for students to work on projects or assignments, but they should definitely not be tied down with meaningless copying.

Janice: How did you learn your Chinese vocabulary? I think most people would agree that copying, repeatedly copying, is a good way to memorise things. Knowledge is best acquired by copying and memorising.

Andrew: Without homework students can have a better life. They can use the time for team sports or play online games with friends. Why, they could even do some revision! These could help develop their soft skills which are in short supply these days.

Key arguments (Andrew)

1. Homework is a waste of time and is boring and repetitive.
2. Time could be spent on activities that cultivate better soft skills.

Key arguments (Janice)

1. Students get a sense of responsibility by finishing their homework.
2. Hard facts are learnt by repeatedly copying and memorising

Glossary

Homework 家課
Assignment 習作
Abolish 廢除
Extracurricular activities 課外活動
Memorise 熟記
Focus 集中

Did you know?

THE most comprehensive research on homework showed that there is a positive correlation between homework and student performance. The study was done in 2006 by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper.

A positive correlation means students who did homework performed better in school. But there are also education experts who disagree with Cooper’s finding. Cathy Vatterott, an education professor at the University of Missouri-St Louis, asked: “Does homework cause achievement, or do high achievers do more homework?” She said “correlation is not causation”.

Questions

1. Do you agree with Janice? Or do you think Andrew is right?
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of homework?
3. What would you suggest in place of homework?
4. How does playing a team sport improve one’s soft skills?

 

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