The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
2 Points

Reduce homework, lengthen schooltime

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/23/2012 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,797 times Debate No: 27440
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)




Resolved: It would, on balance, be beneficial to reduce the amount of homework given in conjunction with an extension to the school day [see model below].

Proposal: Have a strong reduction in homework, lengthen school to a 9-5 length day.


The debate shall adhere to the following structure:

Round 1: Acceptance, Rules, Resolution / Model Outline and Definitions
Round 2: Opening Statements, No Rebuttals (see below on this)
Round 3: New Arguments and Rebuttals
Round 4: Rebuttals and Closing Statements (No new arguments)

The only rules I insists upon are the following, but I will accept any reasonable clarifications or amendments my opponent might choose to provide in Round 1, although clarification prior to acceptance is preferred.

Arguments and source citations must appear within the four rounds of this debate only. Arguments and citations may not appear in offsite links, other debates, forums, or comments.

Dropped arguments are not concessions. Arguments should be seen as whole units from opening to closing statements.

Although R2 is not to be used for rebuttals, it is possible that my opponent’s arguments may lend themselves to countering mine naturally. This is allowed as it’s not a rebuttal per se. What I don’t want to see is a line by line refutation in round 2.

All words are to take their standard definition. The only matter is what constitutes homework. A discussion of this is under the model outline section.

To voters, please judge this debate based on this debate and not upon preconceptions you may have.

Model Outline / Resolutional Matters

While R1 is not for arguing, it’s critical to discuss the resolution and precisely what we’re debating on this contentious issue. Let me outline a few things that are to be taken as given barring reasonable amendments in round 1.


This debate is not limited to the US only. Also, the debate focuses primarily on a high school context as we might make exceptions for kindergarten students for instance.


I divide homework into 2 categories:

1. Assignments / assessments / major projects
2. Worksheets, maths exercises etc.

We are discussing the elimination of type 2. Type 1 still exists, although in a perhaps reduced manner. The extended school day enables more learning (vs. homework) ; Con can dispute this if he wishes later.

Timing / School logistics

Logistics, on the school level, is not meant to be a crucial issue in this debate – bureaucrats could probably resolve this matter. However, the school day would be reworked to accommodate a 9-5. My proposal is as follows:

To accommodate the 2 hour extension to the school day an additional 20 minutes of rest / break, in the vein of lunch or morning tea, would be added. This would be added to the 20 minute morning tea and 40 minute lunch break typically found in schools (no negotiation on this – this is to be accepted) . That totals 80 minutes. Students retain their 40 minute lunch. 2 other 40 minute blocks would be scheduled into the day – one near the end of the day, one near the start. Students would choose which time block they wish to spend their free time (like choosing an elective; it’s a choice for the same duration that the same subjects are kept) in (40 minutes), and be in class for the other 40; yes, classes aside from this one retain their usual one hour length.

Why the complexity? If students choose to have their free time in the later 40 minutes block, after all other classes, then they could leave school during this break. This is to accommodate extra-curricular activities and the like. More on this in round 2.

Weighing mechanisms

This is up for contention, to a point. One judges education reform based on what educational end (or ends) are desired. It is the debaters place to forward these ends, and have the voters judge policies as per which end they believe encapsulates the goal of education, or should encapsulate such a goal. The greatest overall good resulting from these policies is to be preferred when judging.
More in later rounds if need be.

A quick note on sourcing

Some among you will have noted that some sections of this are eerily similar to this thread’s OP . Before people scream plagiarism, I am that thread’s author. This idea had it’s genesis from , and I will later be borrowing on a quote from YYW in that thread (which I was a contributor to). Aside from not having to source these repeatedly, I’d recommend the audience read these threads for their own education (mind the pun) , especially the latter one.

I thank whoever my opponent may be for this debate for agreeing to debate this subject. Let’s have an intellectually rigorous debate on this subject (I myself am undecided personally) and be civil and convivial. Voters, please read the debate in full and judge appropriately; we are in your debt for taking the time to read this debate readers.



I accept this debate. For reference, I shall be arguing against the increase of school-time to a 9 to 5 system, specifically against my opponent's proposal (hence my argument is a counterproposal for the status quo). Also, as my opponent was somewhat wishy-washy on this, I'd like him to make explicit what level of education we are discussing - from what I can grasp, it is definitely middle and high school, but possibly lower as well, which needs to be specified (also, beware that I may get Americanised terms like high school somewhat misplaced).

Moreover, I expect my opponent to affirm teaching in the additional hours of school, not simply the inclusion of schools being "open" as many are open to and past five o'clock anyway.

That said, I accept the debate, and await my opponent's argument.
Debate Round No. 1


My thanks to the esteemed Stephen_Hawkins for accepting this debate; Con need not fear that my terms are Americanised as I am Australian, and the British and Australian school systems are reasonably similar. To clear up 2 uncertainties from R1, teaching will be as normal from 9-5 as per the model outline. On the scope, I’d prefer this remain to higher years where it’s more applicable – homework reduction + school extension doesn’t work if there’s no homework to reduce, as with younger students! However, I’ll say that all students go from 9-5. However, the amount of free time would be greater for younger students because the homework reduction associated with increased school time does not exist for them; this time is transferred to free time. Let’s not get bogged down on logistics though if possible.

Let’s go to arguments.

Massed vs. Spaced Presentation

One of education’s main goals is for students to retain what they learn at school – we ought to prefer systems which result in greater retention of knowledge as it’s a goal for education. For instance, a good test score due to cramming, with the student later forgetting such knowledge is sub-optimal vs. a lower test score yet greater memory retention.

How does this relate to the resolution? Being in school encourages spaced presentation, which results in better memory retention.

This is all about the ‘spacing effect’ [1]. This effect details how humans more easily learn / remember things when studied a few times over a longer period of time (spaced presentation) as opposed to repeated study in a shorter timespan (massed presentation). However, and this is key - "the benefit of spaced presentations does not appear at short retention intervals; that is, at short retention intervals, massed presentation lead to better memory performance than spaced presentations" . SeeGreene, R.L. (1989). Spacing effects in memory: Evidence for a two-process account. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 15(3), 371-377.

School via timetabling tends to promote spaced presentation – lessons are not put back to back to back for the same subject. However, many students might do a mass of homework for a subject in one go because a) Their schedule promotes that, b) They remember as they go (ie. Ex 1. Is a prerequisite for Ex 2. And so remembering Ex 1 helps with Ex 2) along with other reasons. Essentially, students will tend to group together clumps of related homework and do them in go, which is more a form of massed presentation than spaced presentation. Ergo, school, by encouraging spaced presentation under the proposed model through putting ‘homework’ in class time in effect, is preferable.

Homework vs. Instruction

On homework briefly:

Much homework is sub-optimal, which can't be helped. Some homework is good but a student doesn't realise it. Some homework is simply beneficial. The issue in evaluating the value of homework is what students do outside of school - for some capable people homework is quite the restriction; many are just wasting their youth on trivialities; homework is good, no matter it's sub-optimal state, for these people.

Textbooks are instructional to a point. However, a teacher’s guidance at the ready + a textbook is superior. If a student doesn’t understand their textbook’s example (say, in maths) when doing an exercise (the type of homework being restricted) then they will perform sub-optimally (ie. Very short answers to written questions), waste an inordinate amount of time doing the exercise (vs. doing the exercise then something else productive) or they’ll copy the answers. Some of those are diametrically opposite, but that reflects the student’s beliefs being different.

When a student is at school they will seek guidance from the teacher when stuck, eliminating time wastage (‘inordinate’). They will have greater difficulty copying answers due to teacher supervision. They will be pushed to perform optimally not just by the teacher, but by their peers – iron sharpens iron is just as true in education.


Streamlining students and workers to the same timetable reduces things like day care costs somewhat, debases tuition costs (private tutoring that is) and ensures maximal use of public transport on a wider basis (many buses and trains around school time are less cramped than during peak hours) .

More importantly though, parents can work for longer. There’s less concern for parents to be at home, supervising their children, if they can trust that their child is safe and productive at school, vs. potentially the converse at home.

Reduction in general mischief

It’s a fact – youth disproportionately commit crimes. “A comparison of the proportion of total offenders who were aged 10–24 in 2009–10 (48%) with the proportion of the general population who were aged 10–24 in Australia as at December 2009 (23%), clearly shows the higher proportion of young people in the offender population (graph S13.1).” [2] What do youth have that adults have? A disproportionate amount of unallocated free time, which combined with various rebellious impulses and hormones results in crimes being committed. See the graph in the link for a visual explanation of the aforementioned.

A solid school environment and a reduction in this poorly utilised free time (crime is a poor use of time with regards to the collective) will reduce crime. Furthermore, additional schooling increases the ability to get messages out to avoid drugs and the like. Government messages have been effective at reducing drug use, such as smoking [3] [4]. Education is cited as one of the main reasons for this decline in smoking. If we can combat smoking then a more effective message through a safe, controlled environment like school will also reduce illicit drug use, and legal, yet harmful drug use. Longer school hours can help achieve this through better education.

Working mindset / Lack of agrarian workforce currently

Why did the US and many other countries originally adopt a 9-3 style of schooling? Why did the, now rather ludicrous, idea of summer vacation eventuate in the US? The reason that this occurred was that the US was formerly an agrarian society – children of agrarian society left school to go work in the field at home. Now we have no such demand on our time other than school.

Let me quote YYW from the second link last round:

Children must be taught the importance of self discipline, the necessity of a strong work ethic and the importance of maximized productivity from birth. I'm not saying that kids should be pushed into the fields or factories, but rather suggesting that all the time wasted in the summer months is the opportunity cost of greater preparation for college, for grad school, for work and for life.

Granted, this debate isn’t about summer vacation, but why not have children work as their parents do? It instills the values of work, the value of free time, presents social mischief (see earlier) and gives children and teenagers a greater appreciation of their parents duties and workload, which increases familial harmony.

This mindset in beneficial for future productivity – another goal of education.


Encouraging spaced presentation, increasing available instructional assistance, reducing cost, a reduction in crime and social mischief, the development of a working mindset and familial harmony are all good reasons to extend the school day.

I eagerly await my opponent’s response.




Unfortunately due to personal circumstance (somehow won a debate I thought I lost in real life) I'm going to have to forfeit this debate. If my opponent wants to schedule this for a later date or challenge someone else he's welcome to. I apologise for wasting his time on this debate.
Debate Round No. 2


It would appear due to extenuating circumstances that Con is unable to continue. I thank him for his notification of this - it's gracious and gentlemanly.

To all readers, I'm attempting to debate this topic before Christmas. Stephen, if you want to debate this I'll be happy to do so.

Finally, readers, vote Pro. Leave feedback on the quality of the R2 arguments in the comments if you wish; I'd be grateful for feedback.


Stephen_Hawkins forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Simply extend that which has been said.

For those interested, I have another debate on this topic going , and I hope that I get a reply on that one as it has not come yet.

For those interested, just leave a comment and I'll be happy to debate this, as long as we can do this debate before Christmas. Mr. Hawkins can take me up on this at any time.

Vote Pro.


Vote Six!
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
imabench and muted, why does a debater having a good reason for a forfeit warrant a loss of conduct for his opponent? Justifying a forfeit might be a good reason to NOT lose the conduct point but since when has it been a reason to GAIN the conduct point?
Posted by Logic_on_rails 3 years ago
Muted, I would be interested in doing so, except I'm in a debate on this topic and about to debate Dakota Kafrick on a different topic.

I'm up for the debate, although my performance would deteriorate with 3 serious debates going on. I'll give you a final answer once I see how good my opponent is in that link - if he's tough I might have to decline, otherwise I'll take you on.
Posted by Muted 3 years ago
Logic, do you want to debate this topic with me as Con?
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeits by Con
Vote Placed by Muted 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to Con for notifying Pro he was going to FF, although putting a period would have been faster. Arguments to Pro for obvious reasons.
Vote Placed by imabench 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeited but I gave him conduct since he at least had a good reason :P