A recent report headlined in the Refondons l’école Rebuild Education Inquiry states that French President François Hollande vows to put an end to homework, one of several reform changes designed to boost the country’s education ranking among European countries.
Hollande argues that homework imparts an unfair advantage onto the wealthy, since they are more likely to have a better home environment, with parents who have the time and resources to help their children.
Ironically, the greatest criticisms to Hollande’s plans have come from the country’s poor, who claim that homework provides disadvantaged children with a necessary sense of structure and purpose that they wouldn’t normally get elsewhere.
“Mostly, wealthy people don’t want homework because when the kids are at home, they make sports or dance or music. They go to the museums, to the theater. So they have this access to culture, which is very important. In poor families, they don’t have that, so the only link they have with culture and school is homework,” says Emmanuel Davidenkoff, editor-in-chief of L’Etudiant.
Perhaps the most significant question to ask: what are the supposed short- and long-term effects of having no homework? Children may initially be happier to have more time and less pressure, which helps to ignite their curiosity and willingness to self-discover. On the other hand, homework – when used appropriately – is meant to clarify and expand upon what is learned in school while adding intellectual depth and stability through consistent application. What happens when these students, who have had little experience doing homework, enter the workforce and are asked to meet deadlines or sit at a desk for eight hours a day?
The reform only works if educators are able to manage a satisfactory balance between work and play in the classroom. If successful, it may actually help teachers become more innovative in their lesson planning and classroom management strategies. However, as it stands, there aren’t any comprehensive plans in place to guide teachers in adapting to a never-before-seen no-homework system.
Will Hollande’s plan still be as effective, without first applying this kind of support?
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