|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
The ruckus over holiday homework
Arvinder Kaure in New Delhi | May 26, 2004 14:33 IST
Holiday homework -- which seems to have become a tradition in our education system -- is facing increasing criticism from parents and psychologists alike, who feel holidays are a time to bring out a child's creativity instead of burdening him with loads of homework.
Moreover, researchers say there is no solid evidence to support the belief that holiday homework improves a child's academic performance.
John Buell, co-author of The End Of Homework, believes it disrupts families, overburdens children and limits learning.
"Holiday homework, especially when it relates to the curriculum, defeats the whole purpose of the holidays as a period that can focus on bringing out a child's creativity. Most of the time, it [holiday homework] relates to the curriculum; teachers think of it as a shortcut to finishing the syllabus," says Kusum Jain, convenor, Parents' Forum for Meaningful Education, Delhi.
"On an average, a school has 125 working days whereas the syllabus is designed for 210 days. Because of the shortage of workdays, schools resort to shortcuts and use vacations and extra classes to finish it [the syllabus]," says Jain.
Dr Sangeeta Bhatia, principal, New State Academy, Delhi, disagrees. She says, "In recent years, most schools have changed the pattern of school homework. It is more fun, more creative and helps develop knowledge skills in children."
Arguing in favour of holiday homework, Bhatia says, "There is a mushrooming of summer workshops everywhere. If a child has nothing to do at home, parents have no choice but to send him to these centres, which becomes a burden for them. It is any day better to give meaningful homework which the child can be occupied with during the holidays."
Brushing aside arguments that homework is a burden for parents, Dr Bhatia says, "Schools no longer give credit for quality work done by the parents. The thrust is on developing the child's creativity, not getting great work done."
Vandana, who has a three-year-old child, disagrees. "You don't expect a nursery student to make cut-outs for the school notice board when he does not know how to handle a pair of scissors," she says. "Moreover, teachers specify that all the models and charts should be done neatly as they have to be displayed... so who is the homework for -- the child or the parent?"
Jain adds, "Holiday homework should be more open-ended. Let children do whatever they want -- studies, hobbies, etc. Then, they can write a report on what they did and submit it in class."
More often than not, holiday homework is becoming a bone of contention between parents and children; the former become villains and the latter rebels, says well-known psychologist Dr Aruna Broota.
"Instead of being fun, it becomes more of a duty. Watching their parents fret over it makes children develop a negative attitude towards homework," she says.
Moreover, older children tend to resent holiday homework as they feel "no teacher is going to check it and their effort will be wasted."
Dr Bhatia feels such arguments are outdated. "Most schools today give weightage to holiday homework. The marks, which are given for holiday homework, are added to the first terminal examination and this is specified to the students in advance," she says.
Rather than fretting over homework, Buell and co-author Etta Kraveloc, suggest 'a balance between work and play.'
Dr Broota agrees. "Homework should be done willingly. Parents should not fret [over it] as children [will] develop negative tendencies [towards homework]. School administrators should make it [homework] more lively and interesting."
More reports from Delhi
Read about: Assembly Election 2003 | Attack on Parliament