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Tara Subramaniam

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Homework: Help or Hassle?

Posted: 05/21/2012 8:28 am

Homework. It's hard to find one student who hasn't complained about it, and almost impossible to find one who's never done it. Lately, many students I've talked with about education have been talking about homework, more than just your average complaint. A lot of this deeper conversation about homework was fueled by the release of the documentary A Race to Nowhere last year.

This documentary follows a few students and their journey through high school, alongside interviews with concerned teachers and parents. The documentary centers around the student, teacher and parent thoughts on homework and how it's turned school into a race to virtually nowhere filled with stress and struggles. When I saw the movie, I had gone with the preconceived notion that the ideas were revolutionary. Now, as much as I often loathe doing my homework, I don't believe it's as big a deal as some people make it out to be. I still find time to hang out with my friends and do the stuff I want to, even with a pretty rigorous courseload and subsequent homework.

I don't think that homework should necessarily be totally abolished. The core idea of homework is that it's used to polish concepts and reinforce lessons outside of the classroom. It is what it has become -- a way for teachers to teach less and cover more material -- that is not useful. I don't think that all of the fuss is positive; personally, I think lots of students just don't want to do it. If used properly, the idea of working at home on a study topic can be very helpful.

Ben Carson, an incredible neurosurgeon, had a rough childhood. In an effort to mobilize him and his brothers, Carsons's mother assigned them book reports. This homework led to study habits that propelled him forward in school and college. Carson is a prime example of how, when used properly, homework is a great tool for reinforcement. That's not to say that I enjoy it, but I see the value. Lots of key concepts come from and are explained through homework, especially in math and science -- much more than from lectures. Lectures present the fundamentals, and homework presents the concepts through examples.

Homework, if treated properly to further knowledge and reinforce concepts, can be a good thing. Not overloading the homework to crowd material but assigning it in small doses helps the students learn!

 

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