Children would be better off reading a book rather than doing tasks at home which are useless and tiring, says group
A group of French parents and teachers have called for a two-week boycott of homework in schools, saying it is useless, tiring and reinforces inequalities between children.
They say homework pushes the responsibility for learning on parents and causes rows between themselves and their children. And they conclude children would be better off reading a book.
“If the child hasn’t succeeded in doing the exercise at school, I don’t see how they’re going to succeed at home,” said Jean-Jacques Hazan, the president of the FCPE, the main French parents’ association, which represents parents and pupils in most of France’s educational establishments.
“In fact, we’re asking parents to do the work that should be done in lessons.”
Homework is officially banned in French primary schools, and has been since 1956. But many teachers ignore this and send children home with exercises to do. Older children often spend up to an hour each evening doing homework, and longer at the weekend or on Wednesdays when most schools close.
Catherine Chabrun, president of the teachers’ organisation Co-operative Institute of Modern Schools (ICEM), says homework also reinforces inequalities.
“Not all families have the time or the necessary knowledge to help their offspring,” she said.
The protesters calling for the ban say no one is contesting the idea of children being given “devoirs” – or exercises – just that they should be done during the school day and not at home. “Teachers don’t realise the unbelievable pressure they are putting children under,” said Hazan.
The question of whether young children should do homework has been a matter of fierce debate and disagreement in France since 1912. The anti-homework campaigners stand little chance of banning it, even for two weeks, but their blog, which has already had 22,000 visits in the past fortnight, hopes to put the perennial controversy back on the political agenda.
On the blog, Mado, the mother of a young pupil in her first primary school class (aged 6-7), writes: “My daughter is completely stressed … often she doesn’t have time to finish her homework and she is afraid of being told off.” She signs off: “Thanks for your blog. I feel less alone!”
A statement from the FCPE said: “Either a pupil has understood the lesson and succeeded in doing the exercises in class, in which case homework is a waste of time and stops them reading, for example, or they haven’t understood and it’s not at home in the absence of a teacher that they’re going to do better.”
Not all parents agree. Myriam Menez, general secretary of PEEP, another school parents’ association, told Le Parisien giving primary school children homework prepared them for secondary school.”Of course it has to be reasonable, but going back over a lesson is the best way of learning things,” she said.