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Common sense on education

WHAT a fascinating proposition: homework is of no real benefit to the primary school pupil. The arguments put forward by the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN), which represents nine out of 10 primary schools, have a ring of common sense and show a practical insight into modern Irish home life.

The suggestion is that good teaching in the classroom ought to preclude a homework load which creates stress between children and their parents and reduces the amount of quality time they can share.

The study shows that some parents feel embarrassed and inadequate when they find they are unable to help their child with a problem. Often the homework is set at a level too high for an individual child. What feelings of lonely helplessness must that induce, whereas, in the classroom, an understanding teacher can nurture and reassure a child of limited ability.

The principals found that inexperienced teachers frequently over-prescribe homework. Some teachers do so because they believe parents expect it and some parents believe that a lot of homework is the sign of a good teacher.

The opposite appears to be the case: the better the primary teacher, the less the homework. A fascinating proposition certainly, but also a serious one. If the principals are right, then the role of homework at primary level requires serious attention.

If precious years are being wasted and relationships between children and their parents damaged, because of worthless slogging, then it is time for change.