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Homework Ban - A Good Idea?

image credits: Ananda Prabhu Naveen Kumar

News:


Madras High Court bans homework for Class I and II students. ~The News Minute

 

Facts:


In a recent move, the Madras High Court has issued directives to the Centre to instruct various governments of the state and the union territories to ensure that students of Class I and II are not given homework. The order passed in a writ petition by Adv.M Purushothaman also directed that no subject other than language and mathematics for Class I and II and language, environmental studies and mathematics for Classes 3 to 5 should be imposed on students by schools. Justice N Kirubakaran of the Madras High Court also said that those schools which fling the abovementioned directives about homework and number of subjects, to the wind, should be disaffiliated.

 

Side:


Despite there being opposition to the system of homework from various quarters, it is indeed an unavoidable part of the teaching-learning process. If not for homework, most students, especially young children, would totally neglect their studies. It is solely due to homework that they spend time, if any at all, in front of their books. The world is highly competitive and in order to belong, one needs to put in considerable effort. Childhood is indeed the right age to start, since habits culminated at a very young age tend to follow us for the rest of our lives. Giving homework to children helps them revise the concepts learnt at school and actually think about the topics learnt. Homework exercises would also enable the students to work more independently. In the process of doing homework, a child can understand whether or not he has understood the concepts needed to finish the exercise. If the child is unable to do the work himself, he can always get the help of his elders. Homework time would become a time for parent-child bonding. It is also a chance for parents to see what their child is studying and to support them in it. Young children have a large amount of energy and if left unattended, they tend to engage in undesirable activities. For the same reason, the homework given to children is a source of relief for parents as it keeps the children engaged.
Teaching children subjects like Computer science introduces them into the world of technology. Children are introduced to electronic gadgets and devices right from a very young age. Most of them are able to operate a smart phone even before they learn to read. Hence, as citizens of a digital era they, more than anyone else, require to be taught about these gadgets and how to use them safely and responsibly. English has become the lingua-franca of the world and with the advent of technology the world has become a global village. English grammar has to be taught from a very young age. Plenty of exercises should also be given both as classwork and homework, so that communicating in this foreign language will not become a difficult task. After all, effective communication skills are vital for expressing our thoughts and lie at the core of our existence. Every subject currently in the curriculum has its own significance and should continue to be taught to children.

Flip-side:


The recent order from the madras high court is praise-worthy for several factors. Children in Std 1 and 2 are in most circumstances, under the age of 8.At such a young age, they should not be put under stressful situations. Children do not fully comprehend the meaning of the exercises assigned to them as homework, and in most cases homework becomes meaningless. Several school encourage rote learning by asking students to copy entire pages from their text books, write the same answers multiple times or the same set of words from the top to the end of a page. It is ironic that in many schools, students are even asked to have a separate set of notebooks for all subjects, just for writing their homework, in effect doubling the weight of the books that need to be carried to school daily. Children finish their work just for the sake of avoiding punishments from teachers and hence there is little learning involved in the process. Also, it is difficult for them to wield a writing tool for a long time, having learned to write just one or two years before. Large amounts of homework, as Justice N Kirubakaran mentions, also results in such young children losing the eleven hours of sleep they should get. Besides food, nutrition and exercise, the amount of sleep children get also affects their mental and physical growth. Also, after finishing their homework, most children are in the mood for anything else-they are unable to go through the lessons taught in class or have quality time with their parents. The constant demands on time are like an endless stairway one has to keep climbing till the end of one’s life. It is time for us to ponder whether children should be forced to start climbing before they are ready for it. Should not they be allowed to spend more time running, playing, fighting and enjoying out in the open?
The move to reduce the number of subjects is also laudable, not only for the matter that it causes a reduction in the weights of school bags, but also because of the fact that it reduces undue stress. From a very young age, students are made to be contenders in a mad never ending rat race with there being societal and familial pressure apart from peer pressure and pressure from schools. Subjects like English grammar, dealing with formal constructs of a non-native second language, computer science dealing with technology that emerged very recently, social sciences dealing with the working of governments and other complex facts are too much for kids of such a young age to deal with. Exam times become a nightmare with students being forced to memorise huge hoards of data. In the words of the High Court Chief Justice, “Children are moulded as memory chips to store information, due to faulty pattern of educational system and to download them in the examinations to prove their memory capacity which is the yardstick to assess and measure the alleged merits of the children.” Hence, in the light of creating a better and reformed educational system in India, the high court’s order is indeed a welcome one.

About the Author


Riya Santhosh loves coffee, paradoxes and friendly pet roosters.






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