Is This The End To Homework?

I can’t say as a child that it was all fun, but I do appreciate all that my parents sacrificed in order to give us a ‘proper’ education. That said, I often feel I’ve let them down as the hours of extra maths lessons, violin and piano, swim, dance and language tutoring didn’t exactly lead me to their idea of success. But I guess you could say I’m a well-rounded person!

Photograph: Klaus-Peter Wolf/Alamy

Although I agree with finding a balance in children’s education, you can probably understand my surprise when French President François Hollande recently announced plans to abolish homework and return to four and a half days of school rather than four. Hold on! Four days of school was the norm? And now no homework? To be fair, primary school children in France spend more hours a year in school than many other developed countries, as they are often there all day, starting early in the morning and ending as late as 6 p.m. The ‘lengthened’ school week would hopefully mean shorter overall days for children.

So what is Hollande trying to accomplish with all this? As reports,

“Education is priority,” Hollande said at Paris’s Sorbonne University on Wednesday. “An education programme is, by definition, a societal programme. Work should be done at school, rather than at home,” in order to foster educational equality for those students who do not have support at home., he added.

I can’t say that I agree with Hollande’s approach to fostering educational equality. It’s like punishing the entire class when one child has misbehaved. Wouldn’t it be better to help those who might be struggling with their schoolwork? Repetition and trying out a problem on your own is all a part of the learning process, especially when it comes to subjects like maths, reading and spelling. I can’t recall my parents helping me that much with my homework, as they were too busy working (and when it came to English, it wasn’t exactly their first language). I certainly don’t agree with giving children so much homework that they don’t have time to play, but a wee bit of independent thinking ought to be a part of every child’s education.

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