Homework Should Be Abolished. -Notes Only! Assignment

Homework Should Be Abolished. -Notes Only! Assignment Words: 1163

AS EXAM season looms, parents risk damaging their children and robbing their self-esteem by rewriting their essays or trying to do their study for them, education experts have warned. Some Sydney schools are sending notes home to warn parents off their children’s homework, and at least one high school is requiring students to complete assignments in class time, to ensure they are doing their own work. Parents who rewrite the history essay, polish the English assignment, and say “We got a good mark for science,” are in danger of undermining their children’s confidence and causing long-term psychological problems, child psychologists warn. Unless the children are geniuses, their work is hardly ever going to be as good as an educated parent’s, and so they grow up feeling whatever they produce is never going to hit the mark,” said Beverley Thirkell, an educational psychologist on the northern beaches. In a highly competitive world, the rise of the overinvolved “parachute” parent who rescues their children from difficulties is receiving widespread attention in Australia, Britain and the US. “The message parents send when they do the work for their kids is, ‘You can’t do it well enough, I’ll do it for you,’ ” said Elbie Van Coller, a school counsellor on the North Shore. It’s producing some very anxious children. ” Psychologists say they are seeing many troubled young people from middle-class homes who feel they can never be “good enough”. In The Price of Privilege, a new book just out in the US, the psychologist Madeline Levine claims children from affluent middle-class homes are three times more likely than other children to suffer depression and anxiety in later life. Parents are increasingly worried about their children’s future and exert, however subtly, pressure to excel, she says.

The more scared the parents, the more controlling they become. Many end up giving more than a helping hand in homework to ensure their child’s mark is high enough. “While demands for outstanding academic or extracurricular performance are very high, expectations about family responsibilities are amazingly low,” Dr Levine said. “This kind of imbalance in expectations results in kids who regularly expect others to ‘take up the slack’, rather than learning how to prioritise tasks or how to manage time. A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said some schools reinforced their home study policy with formal advice to parents, discouraging them from doing their children’s homework. “Parental support is encouraged, but substituting a parent’s work for that of their child’s is not,” he said. Parents overinvesting in children’s academic achievements can lead to major conflict at home, said Matt Sanders, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Queensland, and the director of the Parenting and Family Support Centre. Our kids’ academic record is their own, not their parents’,” he said. “It’s dangerous if kids get false feedback about the quality of their work when the parents have contributed, say, 30 per cent. The kids can believe they’re achieving at a much higher level but often deep down they’re struggling. ” In the short-term, the ends will seem to justify the means, the British psychotherapist Elizabeth Meakins wrote in The Independent. “Parental egos will bathe in the glory … But sooner or later, for some youngsters, the darker side to this blurred achievement will show itself. “

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Years down the track, she sees “educationally over-controlled” children suffering chronic self-doubt, and a sense that they will “one day be found out”. Dr Thirkell said there was a fine line between being an interested, supportive parent and an over-controlling one. “Some of my work is trying to help parents back off,” he said. “But it’s not simple. I also see the fallout from kids who are struggling, floundering, with no one there to support them, where school work is not a priority. ” Schools are culpable for putting pressure on parents to get involved, according to one school principal, Bob Heath.

They set too much homework, and work that is too difficult. Mr Heath’s school, Eastern Fleurieu, on Adelaide’s fringe, has a “no homework” policy for years 5 to 9. The research shows little educational benefit of homework, he says. “But homework is a significant contributor to conflict in a lot of homes; children are either banished to their rooms with homework they struggle to do; or parents help them. Help is a good thing but when parents take over the homework it achieves nothing for the child. “

Alfie Kohn, the author of a new book, The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing, says American children spend 50 per cent more time on homework than in 1981. Yet research shows in high school the benefits start to decline after two hours a night, while there is little benefit in primary school. Professor Sanders says parents can help by giving tips and clues, not answers, and by developing research skills. Ms Van Coller said parents could help a child to use the internet sensibly, get appropriate books from the library and advise “you have too many pictures and not enough words” – but not write the extra paragraphs.

A spokeswoman for the Federation of P Associations, Sharon-Roni Canty, said she knew of isolated cases where schools had expressed concern about the level of homework parents were doing for their children. Cheryl McBride, president of the Public School Principals Forum, said: “If the child has no idea how to do a problem and the parent feels that they have to complete each question for them, they should write a note in the homework saying the child could not do the problem and leave it to the teacher to go over it with them the next day. “

Merrion Della Marta, a pharmacist and mother of three daughters from Clovelly, says she has resisted societal pressures to get too involved in homework. “When my oldest daughter was born, she was tested for Down syndrome. When we got the results that she was not affected, we decided it didn’t matter what this child achieved; it was a blessing. I see all this pushing, pushing instead of letting children be happy and enjoy themselves. I just thought ‘no’. ” Lauren, 16, is in a selective school, Emily, 14, won a scholarship to a private school, and Isobel, 11, is at the local primary.

All are in the top half of their classes so “I never worry too much about their homework. If Isobel is stressed about it, I tell her, ‘It’s not compulsory in primary school. ‘ ” At Mr Heath’s “no homework” school, tasks are completed in class time, and children determine if they want to do extra at home. Begun as a trial three years ago, the policy has had no detrimental effect on the school’s high academic achievements, he says. “Our view is that these kids have time to kick a ball, do the dishes, and read a book. And parental support for this is exceptionally high. “

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