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

Students should be allowed to do homework during recess

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/3/2012 Category: Education
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,298 times Debate No: 27719
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)





This debate shall adhere to the following structure:

Round 1: Acceptance, Rules, Resolution / Clarification 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.

Definitions / Clarification

This debate originated from the rather lacklustre debate ; as per the comments of this debate ‘recess’ and ‘lunch’ are distinct terms. These 2 terms refer to the one hour of free time allocated to students during a school day. Note: Breaks moving from classes are not counted in this time.

Recess is to be understood as the part of this 1 hour that’s not used for eating lunch. Let’s say that eating lunch takes 15 minutes at a reasonable pace. That leaves 45 minutes for recess.

I’ll leave Dakota to elaborate and clarify upon what he understands recess to be in R1. Dakota, feel free to clear up any uncertainties present in my R1 prior to acceptance.

I wish my esteemed opponent DakotaKrafick the best of luck in this debate. I’m quite curious to see what arguments he was going to spring in that other debate – that’s why I’m his opponent now!



Very glad to be debating Logic on Rails and I think the outline and definitions of the debate are perfect. If I had to provide a definition for recess, it wouldn't be much different from his: "The 45-minute (or so) period K-5-grade students are given to play outside (or conceivably in an indoor gymnasium or playground of some sort)".

I've always understood the time set aside for recess to be used for physical activity. I don't even remember if my Elementary school allowed students to do their homework or play Chess or something else of the sort, but I personally do not think such things should be permitted during this time. (Maybe a second recess period should be added to Elementary schools where students can play mentally-stimulating games, but that is another debate entirely.)

And without further ado, I wish my opponent good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


My thanks to Dakota for his acceptance. This debate will hopefully enlighten readers on a topic that they probably, like me, have not really considered deeply before. In this round I’ll lay out what I see as the purpose and value of recess, and from there argue why activities ought not to be banned, like homework.

Recess – Why do we have it? What is it’s value?

Students are legally required to attend school. [1] School is society’s institution for teaching. What a school ought to try and achieve is subjective to a point, but I’m sure Con will agree that we’re aiming to produce capable, moral citizens for society. To this end, we have recess. The consumption of food is beneficial for educational purposes as energy is replenished, nutritional requirements are satisfied etc. Without eating, drinking and the like school performance would drop.

Of course, we don’t just have a 15 minute lunch, we have recess. Recess is a tool that is effective at fostering social interaction, developing friendships and the like; building friendships is not just ‘fun’ – it’s part of developing capable citizens who know how to interact properly and understand the social consequences of their actions. Recess can also be used to increase fitness (as Con will likely argue), and as I will argue, lighten the homework load at home (meaning, more time with family) , allow development of hobbies, say chess, and so forth. These are crucial benefits.

Obviously though Con will question why these other things ought to be allowed. He himself advocates these things potentially in the form of a second recess. That’s outside this debate’s scope – recess is a set amount of time, and the structure fairly rigid. As an aside though, it is a fascinating issue as to what amount of time should be allowed for recess – in Sendai, Japan approximately 15% of the day is spent in recess, with every lesson followed by a 10 or 15 minute recess. In Chicago children had 5% of the day allocated to recess. [2] I would strongly recommend the article for anybody interested on the subject, and other educational matters. The point though is that we’re working with a set amount of time for recess, so to mandate certain activities is to come at the expense of recess.

This brings up a poignant point – why is recess more effective than forced instruction for some things?


Above I outlined the benefits of recess – Social interaction, friendships are formed etc. Undoubtedly, this can occur in the classroom, but it’s not as common, nor the primary purpose. To be sure, educational benefits can be derived from efficient teamwork derived from friendship, but this is not normally the case. There’s a rigid set of rules.

Recess is an escape from that – it’s a block of free time. Con sees an idyllic situation where ‘play’ occurs and is more fun than fitness classes and the like. Of course ‘play’ is generally more fun – you get eagerness to participate in the activity, competitive and capable players etc. This fosters positive relationships. Freedom, the ability to do this and choose things willingly is critical to this.

Con’s plan is to make this idyllic situation mandatory, which is self-defeating. The reason this situations exists is because people choose to use their free time effectively. By eliminating that choice we revert back to a model of forced choices, forced instruction. The value of recess is in being a break from educational constraints, not simply being another type of constraint.

Is the above all bluff and bluster? No. Force those who’d rather do other things to participate in a game and they will sour it – they won’t try hard, they’ll make a space congestive etc. These people will also more likely become cynical and frustrated. These people would do much better to choose their own activity, find others who like that activity, and form strong social bonds with these people. These bonds are stronger, and more positive, than those formed by shared dislike of forced physical activity. To give an example, myself and a friend of mine originally met in a day set aside for ranking chess teams. This day ran into lunch (more later on the fact that many extracurricular activities hold meetings during recess). Since that day I’ve spent many, many hours in the library at lunch playing chess with my friend. Our work made our school’s chess team get it’s best result in 50 years, formed social relationships between various years via their interest in chess and so forth. However, our friendship began to extend beyond chess and into other activities – we’re now both active members on this site. This would not have happened had we been doing forced physical activity – we are in different years and would not have associated originally under Con’s proposal.

Is my friend unfit? No, he’s the second fastest medium distance runner in his grade, the best swimmer etc. Am I unfit? No. I’m the 4th fastest sprinter in my year, one of the best runners and so forth.

A free environment makes scenarios like the above occur. Banning activities like homework is the start of a slippery slope to a restrictive environment. Recess is beneficial because it’s free time.

Opportunity Cost

Homework not done at one point is merely homework delayed for later. If a student believes it’s more productive to do homework at school then he should. If the student derives more happiness at home than at school then is it the school’s place to force the student to pursue the course of action which results in less happiness?

The answer is no.


It’s a rather difficult thing to stop a student doing his homework during recess – the typical punishments are rather useless. Detention? The student will continue with his homework then. Force him to accompany the supervising teacher? That won’t accomplish any of Con’s goals, and will just force the student to do homework later, taking away from time with their family.

Without a model of enforcing the proposed policy it’s pointless to disallow homework – it’s a mere waste of resources to prevent people doing homework.

Physical Activity

I’ve touched on this earlier, but why is physical activity better at school? My PE classes this year have not improved my fitness. School sport has done so for me, but that’s because I chose one of the few sports that actually does something at school. My point? One can push oneself quite hard at home, yet lounge at school, but homework is forced to take away from home time (as an aside, I’m also doing a debate about putting homework in school time and lengthening the school day which would render this debate moot...) . Granted the pressure of peers is perhaps the very best motivator to push oneself, but this already occurs. People are pushing themself given freedom to do so. The people doing homework at lunch, wasting time on frivolities (homework is not one of these things) are unlikely to accept the challenge of their peers head on.


Recess works so well because it’s free time that isn’t geared towards any specific activity. Con’s proposal eats away at this strength. Also, there is the opportunity cost related with doing homework at home. Physical fitness, the very pillar of Con’s case, also falls under this to a point. Finally, the logistics of enforcing such a policy are problematic to say the least.

I look forward to Con’s arguments.






As per the debate structure outlined in the instigation, I shall save my rebuttals for round 3. I am usually always respectful of my opponent's outlines, so I hope Logic doesn't see what I'm about to say next as a breach of the rules, but this was simply killing me when I read it so it must be addressed before I can sleep soundly again: my opponent claims "Students are legally required to attend school" but this is not true in all cases, such as those students who are 18 and over. It would more accurately read, "Students are definitionally required to attend school".

Yes, I was just being nitpicky. And now I shall go straight to my own arguments.

1. The physical importance of exercise.

Perhaps if Logic on Rails and I had this discussion a few decades ago, before obesity and its resulting health issues plagued our younger generation so palpably like it does today, we would agree on the matter. However, our children are suffering an age of technological convenience, an age of utter laziness.

Surely we can all agree that doing homework is important and that stimulating the mind (by such ways as solving puzzles or playing Chess) is also important. But then surely we must also agree on another matter of no less importance: being physically healthy. For what good is your wit or knowledge when you suffer an early death from a heart attack?

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (who got its statistics from various sources, including the National Institutes for Health and the National Center for Health Statistics), "The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period." [1]

Clearly a staggering (and frightening) increase. It seems as time goes on, the amount of exercise children are getting steadily decreases. It should be clear to all this is a problem. So the question must be asked: would allowing children to shirk their physical fitness at school improve or worsen this problem?

I hope I don't even need a source to convince you it could, and would, only worsen the problem. Obesity of any age can lead to such problems as high blood pressure, asthma, type 2 diabetes, and even certain sleep disorders. [2] I love Chess as much as the next guy, but the Sicilian defense can't defend you from these health risks. Only regular exercise can.

2. The mental importance of exercise.

Exercise does more than keep you physically fit; it keeps you mentally sharp as well. For starters, to suggest children should do classwork for four hours, then do their homework for an hour, then do more classwork for another three hours is expecting a little too much from someone, be them Elementary school students or adults. They need a break from thinking, they need to stretch their legs and run off some energy.

Of course, you're not saying they should be forced to do homework during recess, only that the option should be given. But there is little difference. It's like offering a child the option to skip math class if he wants to: what do you think he's going to do? While a child may not understand the benefits of learning arithmetic or exercising at a young age, it is our responsibility to include these things in their curriculum (and not as mere options).

Exercise gets more blood flowing through the body and to the brain, which means more oxygen keeping your mental state nutritionally fit. [3] In turn, this will help children to spend the time in class actually learning instead of being mentally exhausted.

Debate Round No. 2


My apologies to Dakota and readers, this was meant to be a 4, not 3, round debate. That is my fault entirely. This means that Con is allowed to bring in new evidence and arguments this round, otherwise he would have had no chance to rebut my R2 arguments! On students attending school, fair point, but not a critical matter.

To arguments.

The Importance of Exercise

I completely concur with Con that exercise is of the highest importance, and that no Sicilian or Caro-Kann defence can help with health problems. I am the first to stress improving physical health. It is a travesty that so many children and teenagers are unfit, lethargic and often lazy; I am as eager as Con to improve the fitness of children.

Eliminating recess is not the answer to this problem.

The Value of Recess

Recess has many benefits derived from it’s status as a form of unallocated free time; time for the students to relax, to do something of their own choice. These benefits are gone if the time becomes allocated, if it becomes supervised and choices narrow; Con advises this narrowing. In R2 (I understand that the rules prevented rebuttal... it is a shame I can’t counter Con’s next rebuttal) discussed these benefits extensively. The fostering of social friendships from interaction (which is more positive when the task done is enjoyed... which is derived from choosing a task!) , unwilling students congest space (most schools don’t have the facilities for every high school student to perform physical exercise simultaneously) and de-motivate others, the opportunity cost – homework not done at school is done at home, students enjoy an activity through the act of choosing it (ever lost interest in an activity because you had to do it?) etc. I discussed these benefits in depth in R2. Readers can examine that for a more detailed examination of my case.

But I said that I’m eager to improve fitness, so shouldn’t I support the resolution?

There are many important things in life. Con is completely right in saying that health is important. But that doesn’t mean, say, education isn’t important. We’d all laugh at the idea of replacing the entire school day with exercise, a ludicrous idea, right? Education and exercise are both important in life – we need both, we need a balance of things. So what else do we need? We need some free time – that free time is recess. To talk about 6-7 hours of limited options, directed work and no freedom. That has consequences. Productivity will rise by keeping recess – students benefit immensely from a touch of freedom.

We need exercise and freedom. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, in this case robbing freedom for exercise, is not ideal. We need to retain both, lest we face adverse impacts as with the case of education and exercise, while implementing a host of policies to improve fitness. Examples:

Using fitness classes more effectively

Enable students to wear sports gear to school (In uniformed schools we wear our school uniform, then change, play sport, and change back; waste of 10 minutes)

Put sports lessons back to back – less time spent setting up equipment

Don’t spend an entire term on a dance unit with 90 students on 1 basketball court (a personal anecdote) ; physical education classes (as distinct from ‘sport’ as a separate school activity) ought to be more intense

Logistical Policies

Extend the school day; this can enable more free time, reduce homework loads and, more physical education can be built into the school timetable! See ; my rounds explain my claims.

Instilling student desire for fitness

Assess students’ fitness by drills like the Beep test (it has many names) ; “The results were astounding. Just six weeks after the [Beep] test began the participating students had increased their fitness levels by 17 per cent and are now among the fittest in their age category in Europe” [1] ; Remember, more time in school for such tests (extend the school day) and there’s a swift 17% improvement.

Also, from the same article:

’The PE teachers have seen their students embrace the idea. They’re cycling, they’re running in their own time as well as the activities during school time,” Ms McAteer said’

Furthermore, why not have ‘pass’ marks for fitness? You can fail a mathematics exam yet never fail anything to do with fitness. Note that exceptions would be built in provided physical disabilities existed for a child, a leg had been broken etc. The point is that a fitness assessment, and a required minimum, increases the importance of fitness in a parent’s eyes as failing a subject can have severe consequences for being allowed to move up a year.

The Value of Activities at Recess

I’m probably guilty of portraying Con’s idea as a regimented, systematic activity of physical activity at recess. What I want to address right now though is that even if Con’s proposal had every student, of their own volition, choose physical activity that doesn’t diminish the value of other activities.

For instance, Con discusses the mental benefits of exercise, and attacks things like chess and homework. Except, chess has very, very positive benefits, such as raising IQ scores, fostering creative thinking, demonstrate the importance of flexible planning, concentration, and the consequences of decisions etc. [2] There’s a reason Armenia made chess compulsory in schools! [3] Imagine the health benefits of being able to evaluate the consequences of one’s actions on one’s physical fitness. Also, extend the point about optimal social interaction occurring given choice.

Enforcement and Logistics

In R2 I talked above the difficulty in enforcing a policy of no homework. Imagine giving a student a detention for doing homework. They turn up to detention and quietly go do... homework. Resources are wasted and the like with a policy of enforcement. I discussed this last round.

However, I actually forgot about a much bigger point logistical point last round – meetings are commonly scheduled during lunchtime, and so are activities.

Just today a good 20 students were operating a food stall for our school’s multicultural day. I was an aid for this. That’s 20 students not performing physical activity of some sort, but they were performing a service to the school. Or what about mock trial, debating and chess? Teachers frequently schedule practice sessions during lunch. For mock trial I was having at least 2-3 meetings a week, many during lunchtime. Debating also had a weekly lunchtime session. Chess occasionally demanded us to talk to the teacher in charge on a Friday, or to help out juniors etc. All these vital activities were conducted during lunch. The performance of these teams would decline if practice was eliminated. So, move it afterschool? For many teachers this is a problem, not to mention students. It was a nightmare organising afterschool mock trial meetings considering many students in the team worked after school some days. Even if practice occurs, it’s at the expense of time at home.

So many school activities occur at lunch. To mandate physical play prevents this. If exceptions are granted... back to chess it seems. Enforcement issues.


We need exercise. We need free time amongst school days of 6-7 hours. Don’t rob the only free time, recess, to ‘pay’ for exercise. Recess has benefits derived from freedom (see R2) , there’s the opportunity cost, the severe difficulties of enforcement of Con’s idea (meetings at lunch...) and clear ways exist to improve fitness, like beep tests on a frequent basis (17% improvement) .

My thanks to Dakota for the debate. I apologise for this being only 3 rounds. Voters, vote fairly based only on the debate.


1 -

2 -

3 -



DakotaKrafick forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago

Seeing as there were 1.5 total rounds instead of 3, this was a half-debate in favor of Pro mostly because he was the only one who provided rebuttals. The primary point of clash was to weigh freedom against making it mandatory for children to persue beneficial activites. I think Con had some very good points about how children may not always do what is beneficial for them and that it is the responsibility of adults to force them to do it. He spends a bit too much time elaborating on the benefits of exercise which Pro pretty much agrees with. Pro argues that the benefits of social interactions only occur when there are willing participants.

The biggest point I've noticed which swung this debate in favor of Pro is the notion of taking a break. Con argues that during a whole day of studying, students need a break to refresh themselves. Pro counters that during a whole day of being constrained, students need a break so they can be free. This fully negated Con's point since being free means that students can truly have a break in a manner which they choose be it physical or mental. With this, Pro wins that recess must be free and by extension that anything (including doing homework) must be allowed during recess.

Con made a very good point about mandating physical fitness during recess and I wanted to see more of how adults must force students to do beneficial activities. It probably would have been very close had it been a full length debate. With the content so far, it is a clear Pro win.

Conduct to Pro as well for the forfeit.
Posted by Logic_on_rails 5 years ago
If you've completed your rebuttal you could always post it in the comments Dakota. I presume the round was to be mostly about the need to put physical exercise into the school day?
Posted by DakotaKrafick 5 years ago
Oh wow, I just got online to finish up this debate but I see I was too late :(
Posted by DakotaKrafick 5 years ago
I say we just finish it up within the three rounds. Of course, we'd have to do rebuttals during that last round.
Posted by Logic_on_rails 5 years ago
By George you're right. It was meant to be 4... If you want we could restart, use the exact same arguments, and have Airmax delete this debate, or merely have this as is. I'd have you determine the course of action as it is my mistake.

My apologies for this mistake - it was entirely my fault, and has thrown a spanner into the works.
Posted by DakotaKrafick 5 years ago
I just noticed this debate is only 3 rounds.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by drafterman 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: FF