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Is doing homework really useful? A Singaporean’s Viewpoint

You have probably heard some people say that we demand too much from the young generation, and they may have had a point. An average student in Singapore spends approximately 10 hours a week doing homework (behind only China and Russia).

But the number of hours may not be directly proportional to the quality of education. The Russian education system doesn’t perform exceptionally well on the world’s education rankings, whereas the education system in Singapore is said to be the best in the world.

It is also noteworthy that the global average for doing homework is around five hours, so Singaporean students are definitely working hard.

This report was based on the results of a questionnaire given out by the OECD to 15-year-olds. Approximately 510,000 students took part in the test. They had to give answers regarding the environment in which they lived and studies, the subjects they studied at school, and their attitude towards those subjects.

So, the question arises; does “more hours spent on homework” equal “better results,” and if it doesn’t, then what brings those positive results?

 

It is about quality, not quantity.

While it is true that homework, in general, does enable the child to grasp new material better, the goal should be to give the child the right kind of homework to do. Several assignments specifically targeted at developing certain skills may bring more benefits to the student than a large number of random exercises.

Also, this high-quality workload should increase gradually as the years go by. Ten hours a week may be perfectly reasonable for a secondary school student who is preparing for their A-levels, but for a primary school student, this may be excessive.

 

Homework needs to be exciting.

At home, the students should be given an opportunity to use the skills they learned in class. If homework is exactly the same as classwork, then students will quickly get bored and demotivated.

But if the quality of homework is up to par, then doing it will definitely benefit the child, improve their grades and open up a lot of doors for them. In fact, one American study which observed some students over the course of 16 years found that those students who regularly did their homework had better grades than those who did not.

Singapore is believed to have one of the best education systems on the planet. The educators pay attention to the quality of homework they give their students and make sure that the students really understand what they are doing and are not just parroting what they hear in class, so doing homework will benefit Singaporean students and help them build a better future for themselves.

A study also discovered that those students who did their homework on a regular basis got higher scores in Pisa. For example, Singaporean students took second place in the Pisa maths test in Pisa in 2012. The first place went to students from Shanghai.

As we have mentioned above, Chinese students devote more time to homework than anybody else in the world (approximately 13 hours per week). So, in these two examples, we can see a clear correlation between the number of hours the children spent doing relevant and actually beneficial homework and the success in the test.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education (MOE) believes that for the upper-secondary students, 2 hours of homework a day is quite reasonable.

 

Parents are concerned about the amount of homework.

We should not forget that when a child has homework to do in many cases (especially if it is a young child), they are not doing it by themselves. Singaporean parents understand the benefits of having a good education, and many of them are actively involved in helping their children with their education.

Unfortunately, this means that they have to spend hours during the week monitoring and helping their children when they do homework.

And if a Singaporean has more than one child, they may not have any time left for themselves at all. As a result, many parents have expressed their displeasure at the amount of homework their children have to do during the day.

The Ministry of Education has taken steps to address their complaint. Now, instead of taking all of the homework home and doing it there, children may be able to stay at school and do part of their work there.

 

What do the opponents of homework say?

Despite high-quality homework having clear benefits, some people still believe that we are overdoing it and that this much homework is harmful to children.

Not all students are created equal. For most, 2 hours a day may be enough but those who struggle academically need to put in more hours just to keep up with their peers. This may lead to exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and stress. And that is if they decide to do it the honest way.

Some students who feel overwhelmed by their homework decide to find an easy way out and resort to cheating. If they get away with it, this is not a good lesson for them to learn. Thinking that you can cheat your way around a difficult obstacle is not the kind of mentality that will serve them well in the future.

Also, research shows that homework puts students from low-income families at a disadvantage. You may need something more than a cheap pen and a piece of paper to complete an assignment. Sometimes students need to use computers to look up information or create a digital presentation.

Wealthy students may also have access to a number of private tutors who may give them valuable advice about how to tackle the assignments in the best way possible. So, the grades students receive for their home assignments may not fully represent their intellectual capability all of the time.

 

Overall, homework is useful for children’s intellectual development. It has proven its worth in numerous studies, and it is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. Perhaps in the future, with the development of technology, the nature of home assignments will change, but the concept itself will remain.  

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About Author

Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

We want our readers to expand their horizons by learning more and find meaning to what they learn.

Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.


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