NZ Woman's Weekly
Colin Hogg on banning homework

Colin Hogg on banning homework

In the unlikely event that I should ever become the country’s minister of education, I’ll be making some major changes. For a start, I think we have too many school holidays – something I’m sure many parents might agree with right now as we polish up our kids to send back into the care of their teachers.

Those kids have been away from education for so long, I suspect even the most school-allergic of them are keen to get back to class. I’m not sure why it’s thought necessary for children to have so much time off school, but it might be time to consider the wisdom of such a silly arrangement – with a view to more time spent at school and less time spent in the mall.

This suggestion might raise wails of anguish among the pupils of the nation, but as the country’s education minister, I couldn’t let that frighten me – though I am nervous about what might be said by our own schoolgirl.

The second part of my school makeover plan might appeal to the daughter a little more. It’s about homework. Having the country’s children at school for more weeks of the year will mean there’s no need for homework. When they come home they’ll be free to relax and have a life.

I have some international support for this view, having recently read that the French president, who actually has the power to ban homework, is talking of doing just that. Interestingly, he’s doing it because he thinks homework gives an unfair advantage to the children of better-off, better-educated parents.

Homework is designed by grown-ups to lessen the pleasure of being young. In South Korea, where they supposedly have the world’s second highest-achieving education system, they also have piles of homework, along with the unhappiest teens in the world.

The number one country for educational excellence is Finland, where the school starting age is seven, the hours are short and homework is almost unheard of. Which seems to mean that not having homework is just as effective as having it – except that when there’s none everyone’s happier.

The other thing about homework is parents helping their kids do it, which is as ridiculous as teachers popping by to cook our dinners and cut our lawns. Or is it that, rather than help out with the homework, we’re simply expected to make sure our kids do it? I’m never sure, though I am sure about how tricky it is to get a moody 14-year-old to even talk about homework after a day at school.

So it’s for the best, really, that we call homework a failed experiment and ban it across the land. In the unlikely event I become minister of education…

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