Tuesday, October 23, 2012

French President Wants to Make Homework Illegal

News article and video: French President Pushing Homework Ban
Published by: Washington Post
On: 10/15/12

" "Education is priority,” Hollande was quoted as saying by France24.com at Paris’s Sorbonne University last week. “An education program is, by definition, a societal program. Work should be done at school, rather than at home,” as a way to ensure that students who have no help at home are not disadvantaged."

President Hollande of France doesn’t think it is fair that some kids get help from their parents at home while children who come from disadvantaged families do not, so he wants to ban homework. This is cited as being an effort in education reform. Honestly I thought education reform was about changing the education inside the schools in order to make teaching more effective by increasing learning.

The other improvements to change the schools are massive and I can't imagine doing all of them at once. New curriculum, more days a week, more teachers, and dealing with absenteeism.

I don't think this would fly in America. In America we are individuals and as such we feel we have freedom to do things in our private time as we wish, such as by getting help from a parent, by paying a tutor, or by doing test prep at a local or a nationwide franchised business.

If homework were banned in Amercia for the purpose of leveling the playing field by not allowing private study at home businesses such as tutoring companies and publishing companies would complain. Also school teachers who moonlight as private tutors would lose income and be angry as well.

If the goal is to learn and if some kids learn by getting help from parents, that's fine. The challenge is to find ways to help struggling learners. Whether the learner is struggling due to not having help from parents or from not learning from the teacher or whatever, then the schools should try to help those kids. For example how about having free tutoring after school for anyone who needs and wants it? Tutoring could also be done in that half day that France won't be meeting under the new proposal.

Taking away some student's ability to succeed and making more kids fail is not an effort toward education reform in my opinion.


Deborah said...

I have a slightly different take on this...as a grownup who has worked the same job at full, 1/2 & 3/4 time, I found that my ability to focus and do the job well varied with the amount of time I had to be there. As a half timer, I could do almost as much work as a 3/4 timer, and the amount I could accomplish in those last two hours as a full timer was minimal. The more time spent at the job, the more I had to pace myself so I didn't get tired. (This was an administrative job that included answering the phone, parts ordering, purchasing and billing, and up to 25$ in software development...so not burger flipping but not extremely high level either.) I remember how we spent our time in high school: a lot of it was devoted to taking roll, changing classes, passing out papers...not active learning. But the amount of time a child spends in school is similar to the amount an adult spends in a full time job. I'd like to see more time AT SCHOOL spent on actual learning...and after school time should be the child's choice...to participate in extracurricular activities, to spend time with family and friends, to play video games or learn a musical instrument. (I'm a private music teacher: my students usually quit practicing entirely starting in about the eighth grade because "I have to do homework".) There's just so much time in a day. There is enough time to do all the learning that compulsory education involves in the time spent in school. If we are wasting that time, we need to fix it...not increase the number of school days and hours spent in school and amount of homework sent home. I think that teaching our children that life is going to be an endless grind of fulfilling other people's agendas is The Wrong Message. I ran into the blowback from this attitude too: my students would say anything to please me, when they didn't have the slightest intention of doing what I asked...so I found it hard to establish expectations for an activity (music) that was considered peripheral by both the school and the parents, although a strong interest of the student.


Leola said...

Interesting discourse as I can see both sides of the issue. My oldest is only in kindergarten and do not like homework (his is minimal and voluntary right now). He has violin lessons twice a week and other activities that make it difficult.

Lee @ http://www.jandamom.com

Ahermitt said...

So everyone ends up stupid?

I think homework can be banned, by teachers not giving it, but smart parents will still demand that books come home- especially where kids are struggling, and will still help the kids.

But as it see it, this will dumb-down the population tremendously!