The actual contribution of homework to the development of the student has continued to be a bone of contention amongst all players involved in the educational training of children. Over time, public opinion has been divided as people have assumed different postures when examining the matter. In expressing disapproval, some parents have gone to the extent of filing law suits against school authorities. On the other hand, some teachers, in stressing their conviction, have equally made it a point of duty to overload pupils with truckload of assignments; while many students have also built implacable mind-sets towards it. For decades, copious studies have been conducted with a view to arriving at a verdict; alas, the results have been conflicting and inconclusive.
However, being a veritable product of homework myself and having observed a couple of examples around me, I am strongly persuaded that homework influences the evolution of students in no small measure. While most students have been profited by being deliberate and open to the potential of homework, some others have only been influenced unwittingly. But, even though the former apparently accrues more benefits than the latter, everyone is a winner of some sort. Now, that’s the amazing thing about homework.
The truth is the benefits of assignments are multifarious. It is instructive to note however, that many people often look out only for improvements in academic performance as the yardstick for evaluating the benefit of homework; whereas this is understandable, in reality, assignments contribute a lot more to the overall development of the child by helping to build necessary life skills.
Self-regulation values like proper time management; discipline, persistence, goal setting and good planning are what pupils quietly cultivate when they faithfully undertake assignments; these constitute a formidable foundation for the demands of higher education and later life. In addition, they learn and imbibe good work ethics like ability to manage distractions, overcome unwanted emotions, motivate oneself and meet deadlines. By cultivating the habit of completing assignments that are given to them, they are unknowingly preparing themselves for the corporate world where they could be instructed to attend to less-fancied tasks that must nonetheless be completed.
Meanwhile, academic benefits like learning the practice of independent study, provision of opportunity to attain mastery in subjects or areas like mathematics, foreign languages and music where extra practice is needed cannot be overemphasized. Furthermore, students get to make fascinating discoveries as they do homework: it could be alternative methods to confront a task or unravelling answers to lingering personal questions on certain areas of study. And everyone knows that personal discoveries are quite indelible.
It must be made clear however that, if the right approach to homework is non-existent among teachers, students and their parents, then the end will not justify the means. It all starts with a proper perspective. The motive of giving assignments as learning and training aides must be clear. They must be designed such that they can build cognitive capacity, thought process and practical skills as the case may be. It must not become an avenue for making up for the teacher’s deficiencies or for achieving personal interests or local policy demands. Similarly, homework must be given in moderation so as not to overburden the student and deprive them of some family life, exercise, play time and sleep which are equally essential for intellectual growth. Whereas, factors like age, grade level and family peculiarities are important factors to consider in giving assignments; where possible, homework should be tailored to meet specific needs of the students – It is in personalizing homework that it is most effective.
Students and their parents likewise must see homework as a tool that possesses the potential to drill correct values into one and enhance learning. Parents should learn to help their wards out where necessary and use the opportunity to develop family ties. Equally important is the need for a parent-teacher relationship whereby monitoring and evaluation of the ward’s response to homework can be discussed. After all, homework somehow draws the parent’s attention to what’s going on in school, from where they can make expedient input.
By contributing to both the academic and non-academic aspects of students’ education, assignments indeed enhance holistic training and evolution. And since the core ideal of formal education is to unearth individuals who are balanced in capacity for life endeavours, homework would remain a necessary tool towards achieving such. No doubt, where a combination of students, teachers and parents who have the proper understanding of the essence of assignments and the right approach is found, results will be undeniable. The collective task is therefore to correctly define and utilize the concept of homework for, in the wise words of Sarah Ityav and Robert Liichow, when the value or purpose of a thing is unknown or misunderstood, abuse is inevitable.
This essay was written and submitted by- Eruteya, Ogagaoghene