Homework has been a source of many heated discussions—and one of the most common questions people ask is whether or not it should be banned.
Many believe homework stifles student creativity, while others see homework as an important tool to help students with their studies.
The following are valuable insights from professionals on why homework should not be banned:
Educational Empowerment Expert | Founder, Think & Evolve
Homework is a pathway to mastery
Like any skill in life, practice is essential for improvement. This is a universal truth.
- Want to get better at basketball? Go dribble and shoot the ball repeatedly.
- Want to get better at math? Do math problems until you dream of numbers.
- Want to get better at Call of Duty? Play round after round of team deathmatch until you finish in first place.
The formula is simple: practice more, get better.
It’s ludicrous to believe that someone, especially a child, could perform at a high level merely after listening to a lecture or watching a video.
Think about it. Would you sit your kid down, having never driven a car in their life, have them watch a 45-minute presentation on parallel parking, and then ask them to go parallel park on a hilly San Francisco street during rush hour traffic? No, that would be preposterous.
You would be putting them in a position where failure is almost a certainty.
Well, when we remove homework from education, then we are doing the exact same thing: setting our kids up to fail.
Homework is the equivalent of practice for school
If students never practice what their teachers are teaching them, then they will never learn the material. Nobody ever became great at writing by simply listening to a teacher talk about great writing. They actually had to write.
The same goes for history, science, math, art, music, and any other subject taught in school.
Without homework to practice the knowledge and skills they are learning:
- students would progress at slower rates,
- have difficulty with retention, understanding, and mastery, and
- perform poorly in high-pressure situations such as taking tests or quizzes
I know because I’ve seen it.
I used to teach high school level math at a progressive 6-12 school in West Hollywood, CA. Unsurprisingly, the students who completed their homework assignments on time performed better on tests and had better grades.
What surprised me more was that this was the case even for the students that were ‘average.’ When I say ‘average,’ I am talking about a student that puts in enough effort to get by but will never go that extra mile.
They don’t particularly love the subject they are learning, but they don’t hate it either. Sometimes they turn in their homework, and other times they don’t. And that is why they make a great case study for homework effectiveness.
I remember one student in particular that whenever he did his homework, his test grades would be A’s and B’s, but if he didn’t do his homework, then he would get C’s and D’s. He didn’t particularly like math.
In fact, he was constantly anxious that he wouldn’t understand the material, and he had chronic test anxiety. Yet, if he did his work, then he performed better.
One student is obviously a small sample size, but I saw this happen with several of my students. Consistent practice always led to better understanding and improved performance.
Those that never did homework or always turned it in late had the worst grades and the least understanding.
Improved knowledge retention and understanding are not the only positive benefits of homework too. Kids can also learn useful and advantageous life skills through consistent homework practice.
Homework teaches kids self-reliance
At home, students must find a way to answer the question presented to them without the immediate presence of their teacher.
They need to either find out the answer themselves or they have to find someone that can help them answer the question. They will either learn to be self-reliant or learn how to ask for help.
Both outcomes are desirable.
Struggling to find an answer to a question is the place where maximum learning occurs.
When kids sit down and stare at their homework, they are forced to recall the things they learned in class. They are forced to play with the ideas in their brain to develop a solution or express their thoughts.
Maybe the answer comes to them after some thought and effort, maybe they have to go find the answer on the internet, or maybe they have to ask the teacher or one of their classmates for help.
Regardless, they are learning to rely on themselves to come up with solutions or to seek out people or places that can help them, which will be useful skills to have later on in life.
Without homework, students would be deprived of valuable opportunities to learn these skills.
One of my biggest fears as a tutor is that my students will become too reliant on me to help them, which is why I never offer solutions without making them work for it first.
When kids tell me, “I don’t know,” I respond with, “Well, if you did know, what would you do?”
My goal is to build them up so that they don’t need me anymore. I want to make them feel like they can handle things on their own. I want to instill that self-reliance down to their core.
For parents looking to hire a tutor potentially, I recommend you find one that will foster self-reliance in your kids rather than just being a means to complete homework for the sake of completing it.
If the tutor does all the work, then homework loses its effectiveness.
Homework teaches kids discipline
Beyond self-reliance, homework also teaches kids discipline. Let’s be honest. Homework is generally… unpleasant.
Related: Why Is Self Discipline Important?
During my time as a teacher, I did not meet many students that relished the idea of going home after school and doing more school work.
That sentiment is perfectly understandable. I would rather binge watch Netflix, skateboard down some sunny streets, or hang out with my friends instead of doing homework too.
However, the unpleasant nature of homework actually teaches a valuable lesson.
For the vast majority of us, there will be tasks in life that are unpleasant yet necessary, especially within a job or occupation. Cleaning a baby’s diaper, having an uncomfortable conversation with a coworker, sweating it out through an hour-long workout are all examples.
The discipline to get those unpleasant tasks completed is a major determiner of success.
Homework is practice for completing those unpleasant yet necessary tasks and will help set up kids to be successful in their future careers. As they become more disciplined at finishing unpleasant tasks, the more successful they become.
The more successful they become, the more they can hire people to take care of those unpleasant tasks for them, whereas someone that procrastinates on completing unpleasant tasks will always have unpleasant tasks to do.
Homework is a first taste of what ‘grown-up’ life is like and is essential for helping kids mature into responsible adults.
Now, that’s not to say that homework should intentionally be fashioned to create a miserable experience for kids. I believe educators should make homework as fun and engaging as possible.
Kids should certainly be able to enjoy themselves and do pleasant activities as well, but a little unpleasantness and discomfort from time to time is healthy.
As my uncle used to say to me when he made me chop firewood for hours while I was ‘vacationing’ at his house in Michigan, “it builds character.”
Arguments against homework
One common argument I hear against homework is that it takes up too much of kids’ free time outside of school and that kids need to be able to “just be kids” instead of constantly attending to their studies. I agree.
Kids should not be tasked with three to four hours of homework per night. They need time to socialize with friends, go to sports practice, or simply unwind and relax.
However, I don’t believe homework needs to be abolished to achieve a healthy school-life balance.
In my class, I gave kids a weekly assignment with 20-30 math problems. That breaks down to about three to four questions per night, which is about 20 minutes of worktops. This is entirely manageable.
Teachers don’t have to assign tons of homework in order to get the majority of the benefits.
As a tutor, I personally despise homework assignments that go on and on ad nauseam even after the student has demonstrated proficiency in the necessary skill.
Homework should be designed to allow kids to reach adequate proficiency and still allow time for other non-school activities.
If students want to reach mastery, they can always do more practice problems at their own discretion.
Some may also argue that homework could simply be transformed into classwork. I found as a teacher that there simply was not enough time to both adequately teach the material and allow enough time for sufficient practice in class.
Students were often left even more confused when we did homework as classwork because they felt like they had no idea what to do since the instruction was cut short.
A final argument against homework is that it increases stress on students while not legitimately demonstrating increased comprehension of the material being studied.
I believe this point speaks more to the quality and type of homework being assigned rather than the homework itself.
The practical truth about teachers, just as in any group, is there are going to be great teachers, OK teachers, and poor teachers. Many of the “OK” and poor teachers often assign mind-numbingly boring homework.
An endless sequence of repetitive math problems, a list of vocabulary words to memorize, a long passage to read out of a dry textbook… it’s no wonder kids check out and resist.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
As a tutor, I have seen teachers come up with incredibly clever assignments that are both stimulating and interesting. The trouble is that these homework assignments are not always ready-made. It takes effort to create them.
A teacher can’t just pick some numbered problems from a textbook or download a basic worksheet to hand out.
They have to sit down and create something unique and engaging, and that takes time — a commodity that teachers often lack.
Fortunately, sites such as Teachers Pay Teachers are helping connect teachers so that they can share their best work with each other, including outstanding homework assignments.
This type of collaboration among teachers is necessary to keep homework effective and relevant.
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail
The debate about the merits of homework is contentious. Although there are certainly improvements that need to be made regarding the length and quality of homework assignments, homework is still an effective tool for improving kids’ understanding and grades.
Additionally, homework is valuable not only for improvement and success at school but also for success later on in life. It can help instill virtues like self-reliance and discipline into kids, and it is a pathway to excellence.
If homework were to be eliminated completely, then we would be doing a disservice to students and their prospective futures. You wouldn’t put your kid behind the wheel on a busy San Francisco street without being fully prepared.
Don’t send your kids into life unprepared by eliminating homework, either.
Former Teacher | President, Model Teaching
When homework serves a clear purpose, is well-aligned to the curriculum, and can be individualized to students, it’s an important component of a well-rounded education.
Students that interact with content more frequently retrain more information and convert more short-term concepts into long-term memory.
Teachers can utilize homework in a variety of ways:
Homework allows students to increase their fluency and proficiency
This allows students to increase their fluency and proficiency with a single skill.
It’s helpful to students that have been recently introduced to new topics that they need to master or as an ongoing practice for skills that are carried through the course lessons— like multiplication facts, for example.
Homework allows students to prepare
This allows teachers to make the most out of instructional time. It requires students to become familiar with background information on their own at home so that class time can focus on a more profound analysis of the content and more engaging discourse.
Homework assists in the practice of study skills
Allows for homework to be assigned that is directly aligned with an upcoming assessment and to assist in the practice of study skills for success on a test.
Studying also allows students to interact with multiple skills and concepts at once, which assists with the practice of long-term memory retrieval as well.
Homework helps build students’ motivation and interest in a topic
Finally, using homework as an extension activity helps to build the students’ motivation and interest in a topic.
These are the kind of homework activities that are typically more open-ended and creative, where individual student learning styles can be acknowledged, and students can demonstrate what they know and have learned.
Each of these ways of assigning homework has a place in the classroom and are all critical to developing well-rounded students that can interact with the lesson content in more meaningful ways.
But, homework is only as effective as the planning that goes into it.
When teachers develop homework thoughtfully and choose a homework activity that serves a clear purpose, it helps students learn content more deeply long-term.
Some valid objections to homework include:
- teachers assigning too much of it,
- homework not reinforcing classroom concepts,
- negatively impacting family time, or
- introducing additional inequitable barriers to students that may not have the necessary tools or support at home to interact well with homework
However, if those objections are addressed in the classroom, and teachers are mindful of using homework purposefully, it can instead enhance learning and be an asset for the classroom.
Founder, Anna Spanish
Homework teaches time management and the importance of deadlines
Although, as a teacher, we want to ensure students are absorbing what they learn in class, homework also teaches them time management skills and the importance of deadlines.
These skills are needed in the workforce later in life, which is why homework is still vital today. It also gives children more responsibility which is why homework increases as they age.
They need to be able to take on these responsibilities and be accountable, as, in the workplace, you often are taking on many projects and tasks that you have to complete on your own.
In many cases, homework also allows parents to monitor their children’s progress in school and to see what they are learning. Although it is the student’s responsibility, parents can offer support and ensure they are staying on top of their studies.
This also helps parents to become informed about what their children are learning and therefore can look into how they might be able to help their children.
Giving students homework is also an excellent way to see the progress of each child and be able to pinpoint where they might need help.
Students might not see this at the time, but teachers want to know where students might be struggling as they can then alter their curriculum to ensure everyone understands what they are learning.
Homework helps with their memory and retention skills
Lastly, homework helps with their memory and retention skills. Although they learn theory in class, there is often not enough time in class to practice it.
Homework allows students to think back to what they learned in class and to use that information to complete the work.
In higher educational settings, taking notes and applying your knowledge is a major factor in succeeding. Homework only scratches the surface of what they are likely to face as they leave elementary, middle school, and high school.
It is a great precursor to larger projects and work tasks they will deal with later in life which is why homework is still needed.
Homework should not be banned for two reasons.
The first reason is because the school system is broken. I know this statement sounds at odds with the article title, given that schools are normally the ones that set homework but let me explain.
Homework helps bridge the gap by giving a topic more attention
The pandemic has already set the current school generation back years, and estimates put the lifetime loss of earnings at $17 Trillion.
The model that schools use is what I call a “Once Through” model — topics are often only taught once in a year because teachers have so many topics they need to get through to meet the requirements of the system.
One of the things I hear the most in conversation with teachers is, “Yes, we’re starting a new topic next week.”
For transparency, my partner is a teacher, and I have lots of friends who are teachers.
This once-through model means that any children who don’t grasp and understand a concept or method when they are taught in the classroom may have to wait a year until that topic is revisited.
Homework helps bridge the gap a little because it provides additional time on a topic.
This can increase the chance of a child becoming comfortable with the concept or method.
Homework is possible to be changed to “work at home”
The second reason homework should not be banned is because it’s possible to change it to be “work at home.”
The material taught in the classroom is often uninteresting or not relevant to children and their view of the world.
This current school generation is used to devices, instant gratification at the touch of a button, and so much variety, whether that’s games, YouTube videos, or other content-on-demand services.
If homework provides the freedom and flexibility for children (and parents) to base it on the interests of the child rather than what the teacher has been told to set as homework, then you increase the engagement with the child and, ultimately, their learning.
I’ve experienced this increase in engagement first-hand. My partner needed a lesson plan for a math lesson the next day, and the topic was perimeter.
In conversation, she’d mentioned that all her students were crazy about the video game Among Us, so I suggested we use that as the focus of the lesson. Among Us has levels, like a spaceship, with rooms of different sizes that players go to in order to complete tasks.
The plan we created asked the students to design new rooms for the spaceship, and they had to calculate the perimeter and also had to work with some constraints (like the total perimeter for all rooms).
The next day my partner sent me a WhatsApp message saying that all her students were hooked because they recognized the game references.
Homework could be set as open-ended, with children able to fill in the blanks based on their interests.
Now you may argue that some topics like math require a strict approach and repetition, and I agree, but you can still base math questions on the interest of the child.
It doesn’t matter if their interest is jewelry, animals, football, or video games. There are ways to create questions and tasks related to the things that interest and are relevant to each child.
This “work at home” approach enables children to learn and make progress, even if the school system uses the “once-through” model.
Tutor, My Tutor Source
I have been tutoring for the past five years, and I have always been a strong advocate of not banning homework. If given in moderate amounts, homework can be quite beneficial for the academic and general lives of students.
There are definitely some good reasons to the point that homework should not be given, but they are outnumbered by the opposing ones.
Here I have talked about some reasons why I think that homework should not be banned.
Completing work at home increases productivity
Usually, students are tired at school. When they are at home, they are in their comfort zone. They can sit quietly and relax to complete their work in a lesser time frame with a fresh mind.
So completing work at home increases productivity to a great extent.
Homework keeps the parents in the loop
They should be updated about what the child is learning in school and what are their academic weak and strong points.
When the students are doing homework with the help of their parents, it also enables the parent-child bond to grow.
Homework gives students a sense of responsibility
It gives them a sense of responsibility because the students know that they have some work to do before they go back to school. They will know that they have to finish off their work first before going out to play or to sit and relax.
This will teach them how to prioritize important work to get all the work done rightly.
Homework teaches students time management
When they have a deadline to complete their homework, they manage their time for homework, playtime, and family time accordingly.
Time management is a very important skill that helps throughout life in different ways.
Every task requires time management, and if students are working on their homework, they will set up a schedule for their daily activities, which will lead to efficient time management.
Homework gives students time to process class concepts
Homework, when assigned thoughtfully and effectively, can help to reinforce in-class concepts and allow students time to process and obtain a broader understanding of classroom information.
Whether practicing mathematics problems, learning and applying foreign language vocabulary, or completing writing prompts, homework, when not overloaded and well-balanced, provides a great way to practice extensions of classroom lessons at home.
Offering reasonable limits on suggested time spent on homework as well as fair deadlines can make homework a useful tool for students and teachers alike.
Former Educator | Founder, STEM Education Guide
If you ask a student why homework is important, they might say, well, it’s not. But as parents and educators, we know homework is important, even if it’s challenging to pinpoint why.
Let’s get into some of the reasons and good discussion points if a student or your child asks why homework is important?
Homework increases exam confidence
When a student does something they haven’t done before, they get in the sense of accomplishment as they persevere to find the correct answer. By finding challenges for students that push their boundaries, they’ll take on these problems and push forward to the correct solutions.
Students that take on new challenges broaden their knowledge and build confidence. A student having confidence is half the battle when it comes to education.
Homework builds this confidence when it comes to taking a test. A student might not realize that the homework is building confidence, but really, the homework challenges them to solve problems in preparation for the test, which translates to real-life solutions.
Homework is a good activity for family time
I’m a mother of three that takes on a lot of responsibilities. Sometimes it can feel as much as a chore to me as it does to my kids when we do homework together.
I have to remember that even though we’re solving problems and doing homework together, this is family time that my kids will remember.
If you look at doing homework with your children this way, it will never feel like a chore, and you’re spending time with your kids, which is always a good thing.
Marketing and Education Specialist, Boluo School
Homework helps combat the tendency to forget things
The modern attention span is getting shorter and shorter-both in children and adults. The human brain is changing, and teachers and students must adapt.
Concepts presented in shorter chunks with more frequency are most effective.
My students would often forget what we discussed in the previous lesson from one day to the next. Homework helps combat this tendency to forget things from one day to the next.
If students review or practice the material at home, it reinforces the concepts presented in the classroom and creates “stickiness” with the lesson.
The United States is lagging far behind other developed countries in education, while US teachers report an unprecedented burnout level.
In order to stay competitive in the global economy, American students must start working harder. This, unfortunately, means homework. The homework must be meaningful, and students must be held accountable for its completion.
Mark de la Cruz
Guitar Teacher and Owner, Fretboard Revolution
Students will learn faster if they apply problem-solving skills consistently
One of the most important things in learning anything, whether it is guitar, math, skating, etc., is consistency.
Part of a student’s plan to improve should include some kind of routine to review or practice the things that were taught during their lessons. This could be seen as necessary for performance-oriented activities, but this is necessary for math and science as well.
Learning to apply problem solving-techniques to different situations and doing this consistently will help students learn faster.
Homework is necessary for improvement
Similarly to consistency, having the discipline to review what your problem areas are and making a plan to improve in those areas are necessary for the path to improvement.
Feelings of motivation will fire students up and only last for a small period of time. Having the discipline and focus to do your homework and finish what needs to be done will be worth more than motivation in the long run.
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