Excessive homework is not reflective of quality of education, and teachers should tone it down, says founder of leading private tutoring firm.

Friday, January 27th, 2017

Posted in: Home schooling, Personal & private tuition

Adam Caller, education consultant and founder of Tutors International, commented this week on the monotony and excess of homework given to children internationally, and questioned its overall benefit to a child’s learning and development.

While approaches to the issuing of homework differ from country to country, Mr Caller, whose career in education spans over a quarter of a century, called out the emerging trend after noting that some students were spending up to 6 hours every night reading textbooks.

Mr Caller commented: “In the US particularly, it would appear that homework is now being issued more as a means of ‘proving’ the effectiveness of the teaching in schools. Children are required to spend hours reading page after page of a textbook, on topics that have yet to be introduced in the classroom, in preparation to be quizzed the next day. I recall one report where a student was spending 5pm until 11pm daily on such activities. What’s worse is that many lessons also take this form, with no discussion or critical analysis involved whatsoever.”

The UK fares, he believes, slightly better, but notes that there is still poor practice in some schools, with an excess of homework, because teachers don’t communicate with other teachers about the amount of homework they will be setting, or setting uninspiring work that leaves pupils dispirited and unenthused.

Mr Caller states that answering text book exercises or reading chapters of text books as homework just don’t capture the imagination of pupils in the same way as a lively classroom discussion. It just isn’t how kids learn things.

“I’ve taught in schools in the past where homework was just not issued for students in years 7, 8, and 9, with the focus being on engaging the children in lessons,” he said. “This led to most, by the end of Year 7, actually requesting homework, as they wanted explore the class-based topics further. There was no penalty if the homework wasn’t done, but if it was, we marked it and gave feedback to the student, and they earned merits for doing it. This is also what we find with private tutoring. When children are engaged, interested and motivated by a new topic or subject, they will naturally seek to find out more by themselves.”

In private tutoring homework is rarely set, but the one to one nature of the teaching, and the focus on the child as an individual, allows tutors to be directed by the curiosity and interests of the child, and this often leads to requests for further study, outside of teaching hours.

There is a place for homework, Mr Caller explained. When a child needs to practice a skill learned in the classroom – for example, music, art or maths. Or in English Literature, reading at home is important if the whole class are required to be at the same point in a book so it can be critiqued and discussed in class.

Mr Caller added: “When the teaching is one to one, it enables the tutor to cover more ground and gain the child’s interest. In the traditional classroom environment, it is not feasible to allocate homework on a per student basis, leaving brighter children frustrated and others struggling.”

Tutors International places exceptional tutors with families based on their individual needs and circumstances, using a thorough matching process. For more information and advice about private tutoring, wherever you are in the world, visit www.tutors-international.com.

• Tutors International provides an unparalleled tutoring service that matches the right tutor with the right child, in order for the student to fully reach their personal potential and academic excellence. Providing a service for children of all ages at different points in their educational journeys, Tutors International is a reputable tutoring company founded on a commitment to finding the perfect tutor to realise the specific goals and aspirations of each student. Private Tutors are available for residential full-time positions, after-school assistance, and homeschooling.

• Founded in 1999 by Adam Caller, Tutors International is a private company based in Oxford, a city renowned for academic excellence. Our select clientele receives a personally tailored service, with discretion and confidentiality guaranteed.