Supporters of homework maintain that it is essential for students to reexamine lessons and concepts that they have learned during the school day while they are at home. Reinforcing the material at home allows the student to better retain those lessons, while at the same time communicating the message that learning can take place outside school walls, proponents insist. Additionally, homework teaches children how to manage their time, supporters argue, and it instills in them the discipline to perform tasks that they may not find inherently thrilling.
Critics, meanwhile, argue that too many homework assignments are dull, uninspired affairs that have little academic value. Students would be better served pursuing their own intellectual interests while at home, opponents argue. Indeed, most children have much better things to do than several hours of homework, critics say, including things as simple as spending time with their friends and family, reading for pleasure, or playing sports. Enforced homework assignments not only do not help children learn, opponents contend, but also largely destroy their love of learning.
Advocates of homework maintain that students need to continue their education outside the classroom, and the best way to do that is for teachers to assign them homework. Homework is also important because there are many types of assignments that cannot be easily completed during the school day, proponents contend. Writing an essay and conducting a science experiment, for example, are both extremely beneficial ways for students to gain a more total understanding of a certain subject, proponents say, but neither assignment is easily completed during classroom hours.
Students must learn to focus their attention on work that they may not find entirely interesting, or risk a poor grade at school the next day. Even young children can benefit from such lessons, supporters assert.
Assigning homework to elementary school students "is like learning to add single-digit numbers before you can add double digits," Cooper says. "Before you can build a house, you need to build the scaffolding."
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