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Is an Excess of Homework Dumbing Down GTA Students?

High school was moderately traumatizing for me on multiple levels, most involving getting the snot beat out of me throughout grades 6 and 7. Homework never seemed to be much of an issue, as I either didn't have too much of it, or I just didn't do it while managing to pass with a solid B average, regardless.

Times must be changing, as Toronto youth trustees are trying to ban homework, at least when exams are approaching. Still, it raises the question of whether or not homework on the whole is effective enough to warrant its degree of usage in school curriculums.

Ted Kuhn, a Grade 12 student at Martingrove Collegiate in Etobicoke, is leading the charge to get the extra homework given by teachers eradicated when it gets close to test and exam time. His reasons, as expressed in a CBC interview, are pretty sound; exams are stressful enough on their own that the last thing high school students need is more work piled on top of the after-hours study time.

The value of homework on the whole, however, has long been debated by students, faculty members and researchers. In the 1980s, many North American schools started increasing after school workloads in the hopes of boosting grade point averages on a national scale. The idea that students in Japanese schools were regularly trouncing North American students, statistics-wise, was doubtless a major factor.

During this time Japanese educators actually decreased the amount of homework given to students, their idea being that allowing kids and young adults to decompress and have time for family and extra-curricular activities would actually keep their minds sharp when they were in the classroom. Japanese schools are known for being rigorous during in-class hours, while not overloading students with out of class work.

According to a 2005 Physorg article, the GPA of students on either land mass didn't change significantly. So what works best, a little or a lot?

The answer, more often than not, can depend on the individual situations of students and their families.

Parents are often set to the task of aiding their children with home work, however, as the number of single parent families increase and the amount of time spent at home shrinks, kids and young adults coming from less privileged backgrounds don't necessarily have the assumed resources to cope with the extra workload.

As more homework is assigned, less time is left to concentrate on other life enriching activities, family, and much needed relaxation. Students are already in school for upwards 7-8 hours a day. As Ted Kuhn puts forth his official proposal to the Toronto District School Board later today, perhaps it's time to rethink home work on the whole instead of just all-out banning it for certain periods of the semester.

As present/past students and as parents what are your thoughts on homework and how has it affected the lives of yourself and your family?

Photo courtesy of, as posted to the BlogTO Flickr Pool.

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