Does cutting homework prepare students for the next step?

York University student Kareem James, knew once he reached university his workload would get heavier. However, at 21, he feels that high school didn’t prepare him for the next level of education.

The TDSB proposal (accepted on April 14) for no homework on holidays and weekends has caused quite a stir among parents, teachers and even students. The proposa,l among other things, outlines that assigning no homework on holidays and days of significance will enable students to spend more time with their families.

“My first semester at York was tough,” James said. “I remember a sociology assignment that was due in my first week and I needed at least a month to research.”

Lee Bartel, Associate Professor at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) says that the TDSB policy will benefit students in the long run.

“It will prepare (students) very adequately. What prepares students for university is development of responsibility for their own study behaviours,” Bartel said.

Bartel explained that it’s hard to justify assigning homework to students on holidays because when people are employed and there is a holiday, they’re not expected to take work home with them.

James not only agrees with the proposed new policy, but with Bartel also.

“The proposal makes sense because school prepares you for the workforce and usually there is no workload when one is on holidays,” said James.

Based on Bartel’s research, professors will always say students coming out of high school into university should be more prepared.

“Work ethic is not necessarily developed by homework,” Bartel said.

“Work ethic comes from early parental training, social and community attitudes, when students are given a responsibility for their learning, what they’re going to learn, and when they’re going to learn it, they become motivated and do better work,” he said

Ralph Nigro, principal at Riverdale Collegiate in Toronto, says that his school likes to think that homework helps students achieve goals.

“It should be motivating,” he said.

James explains, when he looks back at his high school days, he wishes that his teachers were not as lenient as they were when it came to deadlines.

“In university they’re not,” James said. “If you’re late on an assignment you’re penalized for everyday that you’re late. In high school I was not.”

“There isn’t a per day penalty at this school,” principal Nigro said. “There is an essential deadline and there is a time when the work can no longer be submitted and that usually is when the teacher gives back the work to the students.”

Linda Stevenson, a high school guidance counsellor at Riverdale Collegiate, believes that it is important to make students responsible for their own time management in preparation for college or university.

“When students say (that they) can’t do there homework at night, I (ask them)

what are (they) going to do when (they) get to the university level?” Stevenson said. Bartel suggested that penalties need to be put in place to teach responsibility.

“There needs to be some type of accountability for students who don’t do their homework, like losing grades,” Bartel said.