For the last month or so I’ve been talking about the education system we have in the UK, with a few suggestions for why it maybe doesn’t work as well as some others around the world. In particular, I looked at the education systems in Finland and Sweden, who both rank in the top 5 for schooling and education in the world. Following on from that, this week I wanted to talk about something that’s been on a lot of people’s mind’s the last few months. Homework.
Why Do Schools Set Homework?
Unfortunately, ‘because they do’ just isn’t going to cut it here. At the moment, we’re still dealing with a legacy issue. For a long time, homework was a core part of a student coursework, and was a huge part of the completion of each subject. But our examination and grading systems have moved away from that model, and the homework system is slowly changing to catch up with it.
While many schools are setting homework for the sake of it, homework can be an incredibly powerful and useful learning tool when used properly. After all, studies have shown that 2 hours of homework a night is linked to better performance and results at school. This is because 2 hours is not too long and not too short – it’s just right. Bite sized revision and learning means the brain can cope with a process the information without getting overwhelmed, so it can remember things much more easily. This means you can make homework more fun and engaging for students, so you can ensure better results all round.
Making Homework Work
Despite all the of the recent arguments against homework, we don’t need to get rid of it altogether. Instead, schools need to stop setting homework simply for the sake of setting homework, and start using it constructively. Homework works best when it’s used to consolidate information learned at school and set it in the child’s mind. Bite sized learning is fantastic for this – it’s easier for the child to engage in for shorter periods of time and does wonders for the ability to recall facts, because it doesn’t overload the brain.
A lot of schools now will set homework as more of a ‘revision’ tool, to help cement the things children learn in school. This is great in theory, but unless school also give children the information and tools to help them revise effectively in a way that works for them, then it becomes pointless. That means helping children to understand their own learning style and giving them the tools and ability to learn in a way that is right for them. So instead of setting a class of 30 a writing assignment to help them learn about a play, offer them the option to write a story about it, perform sections or take a quiz on the plot points. In an ideal world, homework would be handed in 7 different ways by 7 children, but achieve the same end result – effective learning and recall.
But what do you think? I know homework is a bit of a hot button topic at the moment and I’m eager to know what other parents going through this over-homeworked system think, and it’s impacting your children. At Connective Learning I am trying to encourage schools to help their students study and revise in a way that suits their learning style, instead of just reading from a textbook. For more information or to share your thoughts, comment below or get in touch with me through my website.