My take on this matter is very objective. During the formative years of a child's education, the more he learns in school, the better it is. This means that the lesser he depends on his parents for doing H.W., the smarter he will handle things as he grows. I have always advocated strongly for more independence of the child in being able to complete everything at school, so that parents at home work on him in an entirely different manner, according to specific need of the child.
However, as the child moves into higher classes, he should be given such homework where he puts application of mind and does not resort to just rote learning or doing writing exercises. To my mind, every minute of the child should be utilised in expanding his mental faculties to the best, which ever way it is suitable for his development.
For middle school students, homework serves to take the skills and concepts covered during class and move those skills and concepts from short term memory to long term memory. Additionally, homework, whether actually completed at home or during class, helps to instill the work ethics students will certainly need in high school and beyond.
I like to use a sports analogy to demonstrate this point: parents and students seem to have no problem with practicing the same play over and over again in a sports environment. Yet, many parents and students lament any homework that requires more than 10 minutes to complete.
Ultimately, the assigning of homework needs to pass some kind of sanity check. What's the reason for the homework assignment? Just busy work? As a way to cement material covered during class? Punishment?
Remember, many student's do not have a home environment conducive to homework. Many students must care for siblings, work, or have other duties because of home life situations.
Ultimately the reason for assigning homework is to ensure students can remember, use, apply, and synthesis the material covered during class in order to make connections to the real world. The amount of homework assigned is less important than the product of that homework. Quality verses quantity is the rule we should all consider following when it comes to the amount of homework we assign.
For my young children I like that they bring home a little homework -- it gives me an opportunity to see exactly what they are studying in school and the level of work that is expected. I also like the idea of being able to extend the specific learning of the school-day here at home. I may be a high school English teacher, but sometimes I have a "better" way of explaining a science concept than my son's teacher, and he understands a concept better after working with me. I also think that getting into the practice of doing some work at home builds the time management and study skills that will be expected in the higher grades. As noted above, if all of the "work" of a class is completed in the class period, then what is missing from the school day? Fewer lessons? Fewer in-depth discussions? Fewer topics? Fewer literary works? I understand the depth vs. breadth argument, but hate to the sacrifice of one for the other. There needs to be a healthy balance.
Homework is a hot button issue. Unless we get a longer school day or year, there will be homework. Personally I don't see how I could not give homework in my class as an English teacher. If we read everything in class, we'd do nothing but read. Trust me, you would find that even more boring than doing homework.
There are definitely some academic skills that require practice. What I now do is explain this to students; they understand that in basketball you have to do a lot of free throw practice if you expect to consistently make baskets on foul shots during a game. I point out that you can't learn to quickly and easily balance equations, for instance, without a similar commitment to practice. Then I assign practice homework and tell them that I will not be collecting it, but I will help them with any problem that they need assistance on, and that I will be giving a quiz on the process in two (or sometimes three) days. Some students do a few problems and are all set with the process, others have to work the entire practice set.
Since I started doing this, more of my students seem to be accepting responsibility for their own learning. Before, copying of others homework was rampant. Now copying doesn't gain them anything, and the quizzes are a positive indicator of who is learning what.
The added practice and repetition that older generations were assigned for homework and actually did, apparently had benefits. For, people did learn the correct forms of verbs and appropriate tenses, punctuation, spelling (!), how to avoid usage errors, how to calculate in their heads and how to work at something more than fifteen minutes at a time.
There is an old adage, "The work will teach you how" that has much veracity, even today. So, homework is, indeed, beneficial as it affords additional practice of new concepts. In the study of some areas such as foreign language, for instance, there is no way that a student can thoroughly learn the target language unless she/he practices.
I believe that a certain amount of homework is necessary for students, especially at the middle school and high school levels. As a student in the 1960s and 1970s, I had some homework EVERY SINGLE NIGHT of the school year; I had several math teachers who gave it each night and on weekends. It served to keep the student up to date on certain new formulas and the practice only made for a better understanding of the work. I hated math then, but I do understand my teachers' reasons for doing it now.
I know we live in an age where technological advancements now take up more students' time, but video games, TV, Ipods, texting and such are just entertainment diversions. Many students don't understand this, nor do they understand the importance of a knowledgeable education--not just one that gives the bare necessities during a 50 minute class period. As a teacher, I usually give homework assignements once or twice per week; additional homework may be given if the in-class work is not completed. Long-term projects are usually meant for at-home completion. Students who decide to pursue a college degree will realize then just how important the regimen of studying at home will become to them.
I think as students get older, this is a harder question to answer. I agree with ravinderrana above in that as the student gets older, he should be given more application questions, some form of higher order thinking. It should not just be rote work. However, the English teacher does not know what the math, science, and social studies teachers have assigned. I have heard parents complain to board members about the amount of work the students are doing at home. These complaints normally come from the students who are in gifted or higher level classes. Teachers think because the children are more talented, they can do more work. The work should be more challenging instead. Also, these students are involved in after school activities --- band, student council, school newspaper, football, dance classes, gymnastics etc. These parents are very interested in the success of their child, but the poor child is worn out. I think teachers need to be very aware of what kind of homework they are giving and evaluate how much time they think the child should spend on that work. If the child is spending too much time, then the child may need some tutoring or the assignment may need to be evaluated.
It's pretty hard to determine which way is best for each individual student, though, isn't it? It would be very hard to convince a class that Student X needs to do homework while Student Y does not. I would not want to try to explain that one...
I do agree with you that rote learning homework (at least in my field of history and social sciences) is not very helpful. I do not assign that sort of "busy work."
This is such a huge topic, there can be no one answer that fits all situations. You're dealing with variables including the age of the students, the subject material, the type of assignment, the amount of involvement from parents or others wanted or needed to complete the work, the availability of needed resources and of appropriate settings for completing homework outside of school...
In some subject areas, homework can be a valuable time to prepare for coming classes, to practice and review strategies already mastered, or to engage in using new knowledge in applications allowing for the learning to become internalized. If we're talking about an elementary-aged student learning to collect information by interviewing adults about a topic of concern for a history project, for example, parental support and involvement will be highly desirable. In other curriculum areas and at other stages in the learning process, students simply need more time to apply themselves to their learning process.
Homework, especially for credit, is a good way to motivate students to raise their grades, but I worry that the word itself has a stigma; in the student's mind, it is all just boring make-work designed to keep them from having free time. In my limited high-school experience, homework were problems lifted straight from the book and required no effort from the teacher. I had much more success with independent papers and research projects.
On the other hand, there needs to be a certain amount of repitition in any subject to help it take root. I feel that your second paragraph might be a good idea earlier than later, to teach critical thinking and research skills.
I do not think teachers should assign so much homework. Assign homework? Yes. The amount of homework, though, can be quite ridiculous. I'm not bragging, but I was very fortunate throughout school life where I could typically understand most subjects without the need of studying, or studying very much. However I was always stuck with hours of homework. Some nights I would literally have to choose between doing 100 math questions, essays, and everything else after an exhausting school week full of tests or going to a movie with friends and I would have to sit at home. This put a lot of stress onto me and caused me to become slightly bitter in regards to the educational system. I think education is important and homework helps to reinforce lessons, however the large amount of homework I had to do changed my mind from," I LOVE SCHOOL AND LEARNING," to," I don't care anymore, because I just have to get a good grade." Due to how much time it took for me to finish up homework, it took a lot longer for some of my friends who couldn't grasp the subject matter as easily. Because of this I was always asked for answers to homework. It's not because they didn't want to do their homework, but because the teacher wouldn't go through the subject long enough and then would assign too many questions too answer. It could take one of my friends 15 minutes to do a question that would take me less than five. With how much time I was losing sleep over homework, I can't even imagine how long it might take them. There were too many days where my friends and I would go to school after sleeping a couple hours a night almost every weekday because we needed to stay up and do homework.
I'm all for homework to reinforce a lesson, but if the lesson is taught well enough then you shouldn't need to assign that many things EVERY NIGHT. I loved when we had "practice homework" that was optional. I could go through and do enough questions to understand without having to spend more time on it then I needed. It made learning a lot easier and enjoyable when there wasn't the pressure of a grade weighing as heavily.
Homework for credit can help students believe this will help their grades and can also give them insight of how the test should be but I don't think anyone should give such excessive homework to where they are scrambling to get it done because then it benefits no one.
As a student, do I think it's necessary for teachers to give a set number of homework? Probably. I think that homework reinforces the information that was taught during class. I also think that it helps prepare a student for what to expect on quizzes, tests, or exams. It gives the student experience and confidence when they see they are doing well on homework. I only support homework if it is exactly what a student was learning on that day and only if there was a way for a child to check on whether or not their answers were correct or not. If a teacher does it for busy work, then don't bother. A student has other classes to worry about.
I believe it depend on the system of education in use.
A teacher, who enjoys teaching, can teach students with out giving home work.
On the other hand, teachers who teach only to earn his livelihood can hardly devote to his profession and somehow pass the time in school or colleges. They expect parents to render his service by giving lots of home work.
There are another group of teachers who think that students may not study at home. They give home work to keep the students busy at home.
There are parents who have no time to stand and stare at their children. They always complain that the teachers give more home work.
Another group of parents who feel their children don't study much at home and enjoy besides involved in mischiefs. This type of parents think that students should be more home work to keep them busy.
I personally feel, students should be given home work to read their lessons which will be discussed in class room next, so that they can understand it better and raise questions.
According to me, it is unfair to compel students to do home-works. They should do on their own interests. But most of schools burden students by giving homeworks and assignments.