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Reduce homework, lengthen schooltime

Logic_on_rails
Posts: 2,445
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11/9/2012 10:08:56 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Proposal: Have a strong reduction in homework, lengthen school to a 9-5 length day.

If possible, I'd like a discussion and evaluation of the proposal as opposed to the status quo. First though, a brief discussion on homework:

I divide homework into 2 categories:

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

On the value of homework briefly:

Of course, what is at the crux of the matter is the value of the homework done. 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.

Discussion of proposal

"It seems to me that school really should be a 9-5 thing though, with an hour lunch break at mid day. That would enable parents to work and save money on child care [emphasis mine]. It would reduce the number of children alone who have single or two working parents and would reduce the time kids have to consume and distribute drugs, as well as create general mischief for lack of other things compelling their time. Homework, in this scenario, should be minimal or nonexistent (although studying would still be imperative, for obvious reasons).

Things that are now extra curricular (like Debate, Mock Trial, etc.) could -and should- be built into a schedule as classes. They teach and promote academic development, and shouldn't be treated as any less important then English classes, because they promote the same skills (in addition to a host of others), such as communication, interaction, etc. (I could sing the praises of debate teams and mock trial teams to the end of days -both were activities I did in high school.)
" - YYW (http://www.debate.org... ; where this idea had it's genesis for me - I very, very strongly recommend reading this thread in depth) .

This nicely relates to my point above about the value of how students spend their free time quite nicely. Also, it brings up the obvious counter - what about all those after school sports practices and the like? Would they be eliminated by the proposal?

I tend to consider not. The timing of the practices would merely be later - the reduction in homework ought to at least partially enable this. Secondly, it might be possible to allow a separation of breaks (we currently have morning tea + lunch at my school) , or an additional break as per current learning: non-learning ratios. Basically, it may be possible to let students schedule their breaks (assuming breaks were scheduled like a class) for the last hour of school and leave early - students could schedule an hour's break to leave at 4 PM for football practice, and merely have 20 minutes for lunch in the middle of the day.

As to the scope of the proposal, I do agree that this might not be suitable for some primary school students, due to their endurance being limited. I would consider the proposal reasonable for high school students at least though.

I've just gone over this contentious idea very briefly - many logistical problems could probably be figured out.

I'd like to hear what people think of this idea (I'm not decided on the issue myself) , how it could be improved, whether it ought to be trialled and the like. Any and all feedback is appreciated.
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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11/10/2012 1:40:44 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
If I understand correctly, the idea is to lengthen the school day and to use the time to either do what would have been taken home as homework or to do activities. The claimed advantage is to reduce day care costs for parents.

One problem is the cost. The schools are run according to union rules, so day care provided cheaply by private means would be transferred to high-cost union workers. The high school I attended years ago has the only auditorium in the town, so it would be logical to use it for non-school functions in the evenings. It's not feasible, because it would have to be staffed by union members that no one can afford.

Putting that aside, I think it's basically a good idea. The countries that lead the world in education have longer school days and longer school years. In Japan they used to have half a day school on Saturday, but they decided to drop the Saturday sessions. Their international test ranking then dropped out of the top two or three -- so parents rose up and demanded that Saturdays be reinstated. They were. Summer vacations are only one month, August.

The US school system is first rate up through the sixth grade. Beyond that, it's really poor. I think a major part of the problem is that school is not taken seriously. It should be.

The problem is worse in college, where work loads have shrunk to trivial levels, and schools compete more on frills than academics. The homework load in colleges is down to only 14 hours per week. It was about 25 hours two decades ago. Yeah, I know there are some very tough schools -- we're talking about the average.
Logic_on_rails
Posts: 2,445
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11/10/2012 4:42:33 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Some interesting points Mr. Latham.

Firstly, I'll have to concede the cost point for the most part - I had forgotten that school facilities are often used by private companies for various presentations for instance. My counter is obviously in the productivity area.

With regard to other matters we somewhat agree. I would not be in favour of a Saturday school being mandatory for various reasons, although that would debase private tuition costs for those who do go by virtue of the costs being spread over a wider amount of people. I tend to think that an individual ought to be able to self-educate themselves (I'm well aware that most people don't, but there ought to be some reward for those of sufficient will) , and there is a certain restriction imposed by additional schooling, although I am a teenager saying this! I'd be open to debating Saturday schooling and it's merits about a week from now - yearly exams must take priority.

I'd also be interested to see what you think of the mindset developed by lengthening school days, presumably you believe it to be beneficial Mr. Latham? I consider this to be a marked potential benefit, presupposing a desired end of work of course.

Also, an addendum to the proposal - I'd be more strongly reducing homework of the 2nd category (worksheets and so on) than larger assignments, as larger assignments tend to develop a wider variety of skills, as well as utilising more critical thinking. Also, assignments enable students to demonstrate their complete potential, given the right conditions.
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it
FREEDO
Posts: 21,057
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11/10/2012 5:13:35 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I would change school so that, although you have a certain mandatory amount time of attendance, that attendance can be fulfilled during any point in the day or week.

Also, I would increase the amount of work that needs to be done, yet make the majority of the subjects chosen by the student out of a large selection.

My primary concern is that we don't need to educate kids. We need to push kids to educate themselves.
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord
Kinesis
Posts: 3,667
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11/10/2012 5:58:54 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/10/2012 5:13:35 AM, FREEDO wrote:
Also, I would increase the amount of work that needs to be done, yet make the majority of the subjects chosen by the student out of a large selection.

My primary concern is that we don't need to educate kids. We need to push kids to educate themselves.

The problem is that the capacity to delay rewards develops over time in children, which is why they hate going to school and especially the kinds of difficult subjects that lead to greater rewards later at the cost of boring difficulty now (maths, chemistry, the hard bits of product design and IT etc.). If you let kids take whatever they want before they understand the long term implications you'll have 2 kids studying maths and 76 kids mucking around in arts class.
ax123man
Posts: 317
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11/14/2012 10:00:24 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Your talking about giving a government run organization even more influence over the education of our children. I wouldn't have such an issue if economics, social studies and history was taught with more balance and critical thinking was emphasized.
Logic_on_rails
Posts: 2,445
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11/14/2012 11:24:30 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/14/2012 10:00:24 PM, ax123man wrote:
Your talking about giving a government run organization even more influence over the education of our children. I wouldn't have such an issue if economics, social studies and history was taught with more balance and critical thinking was emphasized.

The thread I referenced did discuss in detail other education reforms, and I 100% support many other types of reform.

Let's be clear though - homework is given by the government. Unless you're advocating not doing homework then no real additional control is being given here. Also, are you in favour of the proposal given, say, a better education system?
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it
rross
Posts: 2,772
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11/18/2012 2:46:49 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
The proposal makes sense in lots of ways, but don't you find it terribly depressing? I do. Personally, I think homework is rubbish. Children should be generating their own projects in their free time. If they want to do well at school, they should be designing their own study plans. If they want to mess around with art rather than study maths then they might end up earning heaps as designers, which is fine.
My view is that school is way too institutionalized and controlling. How pathetic if at 16 students still need someone to hand them a worksheet and monitor that they've completed it.
Adult life is all about setting and completing your own goals. I keep meeting fully-grown adults who are still scrambling around for approval and some sort of substitute for good marks from an authority figure. Dreadful.
Even in preschool, parents are pushing for longer hours. Actually, children need to learn to manage themselves. They can't learn that in an institution.
Logic_on_rails
Posts: 2,445
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11/23/2012 1:54:44 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
To those interested, I have created a debate on this subject, with myself in favour of the outlined proposal. See http://www.debate.org...
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it