School Assignments: Boon or Bane?

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MUKHTAR AHMAD FAROOQI
School assignment, homework or homework assignment is an issue that has been topic of debate doing the rounds for decades. According to Wikipedia “Homework, or a homework assignment, is a set of tasks assigned to students by their teachers to be completed outside the class. Common homework assignments may include required reading, writing or typing/science project, mathematical exercises to be completed, information to be reviewed before a test, or other skills to be practiced”.
In simple terms school assignment is task given by an instructor in school performed by a student outside the  school specially at home. Some educators believe in homework while others would like to discount it altogether. Similarly, some parents appreciate homework while others would like it to be abolished. The relationship between a student and his homework has never been a good one. With the fact that education is getting more and more difficult day by day, students are always burdened with loads of homework.
While some look for excuses to escape from the homework solving process, there are many who finish off their work in a hurry. Kids , when they  return home after long drawn school hours get down immediately to tackle with the day’s homework which denies them the time to relax and do other extra- curricular activities. It is just like being in school even after they  get home. Children are given assignments that rob them of their time that they should be using to relax, play, watch TV, spend time with family, pursue their hobbies, and chill out with their friends. They spend around 6 to 7  hours at school during which they take lessons in the classrooms, do their assignments, have their tests, , go to the laboratories for practical’s, once a week get sports period to play, and usually it goes on for six days a week, with only Sunday being the off day.
Before proceeding further with this issue let us have a look on the various advantages and disadvantages of home assignments given to children in schools:
Advantages
Students can engage with their studies: Setting homework allows students to revise content learnt during the day with a fresh set of eyes and a clear head, away from their friends and other schoolyard distractions.;
 Children develop time management and study skills: Homework sets children up to manage their time and plan out study schedules, which are very useful skills to have when   they enter senior high school years, tertiary study and eventually the workforce;
 Teachers can keep track of progress: Homework allows teachers to track students’ progress, meaning that they can spot when a child is struggling with content or falling behind the rest of the cohort(companions).
Disadvantages:
Homework eats up free time;
Excess homework causes children to feel ‘burnt out’ and can cause severe stress for some children, leading to issues such as sleep deprivation.
Even though assignments offer several benefits as far as educators are concerned  but the way it should have been given is not, resulting in chaos and burn out type of situation. In a number of schools, parents are raising their concerns about the burden of homework, piled on nightly, on weekends and even over holiday and summer breaks. The burden of studies can be gauged from the size of school bags which students today carry on their fragile shoulders. In a race to get the name of their respective institution at top, schools have forgotten the plight of students. The burdening nature of homework has become a cause of concern for parents as they find homework to be overwhelming, as they themselves struggle to help their kids in completing homework.
Many parents are lamenting on their life as they needed to do their own homework when they were children — but now have to do their children’s after-school work. Parents dream of the life what their own parents used to live , that is,  their parents could take a walk, watch TV, visit friends and chat after supper while we were  doing homework when they were themselves  children . Every parent thought he/she would live the same life as theirs when they grew up. But,  they found it is totally different. In contrast they are still doing homework, for their respective children. The parents,  in this part of the world,  in general and ours in particular have become overburdened by this because when they are about to return home they become anxious that upon return they will have to complete the homework of their respective children (which never used to be a case when I used to be a child)
The plight does not end here as some parents have to hire tuition teachers so that their children could complete their homework and do not get punished in school as is the norm. I fail to understand why schools provide assignments that cannot be solved by the child on his own rather are solved by parents or tuition teachers. These types of assignments are given just to please the parents and making their life miserable in the name of 3-tier policy. Even assignments in the name of holiday assignments are given to children during summer vacations which are usually of 10-15 days duration thereby dissipating the very motive of vacation. I will like to quote an example, one of  the kids in our family was given an assignment in recently concluded vacations to construct model of rainbow in class;  first even though she knew nothing about rainbow or its shape thereby causing trouble to her parents. This not only ruined her vacations but its very essence as well.
Homework should have relevance and meaning to children and parents. It must be more than busy work set by teachers. Requirements ought not to be so complex or time consuming that parental intervention is needed to complete the exercise. When this happens, both  the children and parents become frustrated. Set homework tasks should be acknowledged, marked and outcomes recorded. If that doesn’t happen, children lose interest.
School assignment is a boon to education as it reinforces lesson material that the child should have learned during the day. Often when a child goes home after complete school day, s/he forgets what has been taught that day. Homework is a great way to reinforce this material and make sure the child actually learns it. But, the lackadaisical approach of the system and show off in this part of country has turned this into a misery both for parents as well as the children. It can be a blessing when planned well and done right by the school.
—The author can be reached at: mukhtar.farooqi37@gmail.com