In solution mode | Your homework this evening: outdoor games!

My postulate is the following: believing that homework and lessons are a panacea for consolidating learning taught in class, as some researchers suggested, is a premise that does not pass the reality test. This erroneous vision is very strongly linked to the concept of academic meritocracy⁠1.

This myth, widely anchored in the popular mind, that homework and lessons are a guarantee of success does not take into account the reality of today’s Western families where quality time on a daily basis between parents and children is rare.

After the school day, students and their parents essentially want to have fun, and for good reason. That said, a nuance is necessary. The vast majority of studies, including a meta-analysis by John Hattie (a New Zealander well known in the educational community), tend to show that the time spent on homework positively influences academic results in secondary school. This is explained in particular because of the subjects which require studies calling on the student’s memory which are self-imposed.

On the other hand, it’s a completely different story in primary school. It goes without saying that the five hours spent in class, not to mention the hours spent in daycare for a very large number of children, make schoolwork at home both daunting and counterproductive for students experiencing difficulties. difficult and useless for students who have ease.

What’s more, placing the consolidation of learning in the hands of parents means forgetting that too many people today still do not consider school a real priority. To believe the opposite in the face of this reality is an illusion.

Already the Quebec school system is the most unequal in the country, school work after school hours does not consolidate students’ learning, but rather widens the gap between the strongest and the weakest. For most of them, the simple word “homework” provokes a knee-jerk reaction. So, to promote the success of as many people as possible, the crux of the matter lies elsewhere.

Prioritize free time and reading

Take the example of Finland, where the educational gap between students is the narrowest in the world, as well as Estonia, which is at the top of Western countries in PISA (Program for International Assessment) tests in 2023 .What do they have in common? In both cases, the place given to play and relaxation is central, because free time is a sacred value. In 1969, only 10% of Finnish students finished school with a diploma. By the following year, the country was engaged in a vast school reform that asked students to spend less time in school and gave them fewer exams and homework. We know the rest.

Moreover, this belief that there is a correlation between the hours spent in class and the success of the greatest number is purely fanciful.

The absence of homework, the emphasis on personal development and play in these countries are factors that improve the mental health of Finnish and Estonian students, allowing them to perform better in their school careers.

However, without any coincidence, for the sixth year in a row, the Finns are considered the happiest people in the world according to the United Nations.

In Quebec, our students, both in primary and secondary schools, spend 900 hours per year in school. In Finland and Estonia, they spend 650 and 660 hours there respectively, the equivalent of 50 days less if we insert into the equation that there are 5 hours of class per day in Quebec. So, please, let’s not add any more! Imposing school time on our students outside of class hours is not a factor promoting their success.

It is high time that our educational system, whose trademark is competition due to numerical report cards and group averages, promotes a balanced life where evenings rhyme more with outdoor games, free play and reading books. a story for your young child to develop a taste for reading and to see him a few years later enjoying picking up a book before bedtime. Fortunately, many teachers are already focusing on such activities so that our youth can enjoy both good physical and mental health. Their leitmotif is to develop the person first and then the student. What if, as a society, this was our duty?

1. Read “School Meritocracy – A Market-Proof Model of Justice”

Read “Homework: useless or essential? »

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