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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, September 3, 2019
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with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia
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Homework

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Is weekend homework good or bad for school aged kids?

The proposals by legislators to ban homework on weekends have been a hot topic in the past few days, and while many welcome it, there are others who have risen in defense of homework.

Under the proposed measure, all primary and secondary schools in the country shall not allow teachers to give any homework or assignments to students from Kinder to Grade 12 on weekends. Teachers may only assign homework to students on weekends provided that it will be minimal and will not require more than four hours to be completed. The Senate bill authored by Senator Grace Poe, the famous daughter of “Da King,” pointed out that the state is mandated to safeguard the welfare of teachers and schoolchildren.

This proposal may have been welcomed by Education Secretary Leonor Briones but surprisingly, there are parents and groups who are against it, saying that we are already being too soft on the children of this country who do nothing but play video games and waste hours on social media during their free time.

I didn’t really think about this proposed legislation to ban homework on weekends because it has been a rule in my kids’ school ever since they started studying there which, for us, was 9 years ago. I welcomed it when I learned about it because I believed then that it allows our family to spend our weekends together without having to worry about homework. It also gave us less stress to end the weekend with, especially on Sunday nights when everybody is getting ready for the incoming week. If weekend homework had been a thing, I can only imagine the stress we would have to go through as the kids scramble and cram to finish the schoolwork that they had to do for the weekend.

It is only now that our House of Representatives has decided to make weekend homework their business, we cannot help but come to think of the value and repercussions of this academic tradition.

I remember when I was a school kid, weekend homework was normal. There’d be weekends when we had homework and we would find our own ways of dealing with it. Students who could pass the marshmallow test would do their homework as soon as they get home on Friday, delaying their weekend gratification, so they could enjoy it better without any more stress. Those with lower EQ’s would wait until the weekend is almost over before tackling the homework, often leading to panic and cramming under pressure, but those who could pull it off would also look back fondly at these days when they developed that skill. The lazy and forgetful ones don’t get it done and will have to either find a solution come Monday morning and cram even harder or just take the hit to the grade.

Now that it’s no longer normal, kids and parents don’t have to worry about it. We can go on trips out of town, watch movies, or just laze around during the weekend because we know that there is no homework surprise. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t know but I’m simply enjoying whatever advantages that come with that particular school policy.

However, with the members of our House of Representatives looking to make this school policy or DepEd guideline a law, people cannot help but give their opinions on the value and power of homework, or the lack of it.

It is difficult to disagree with people who say kids these days lack grit and more homework should do them some good because I generally agree with the first statement. Kids these days are soft and they could need some toughening up. But to say that homework will solve this problem is putting too much credit in the educational system. Parents who want tougher kids don’t need homework to do that for them. They can do that as effectively while spending time with their offspring in a homework-free weekend.

As for learning, our kids already spend at least 40 hours in school or going to and from it, more for those in the urban jungles of Metro Manila. Giving them even more schoolwork doesn’t seem right when they wake up before dawn and get home after dusk. This is where provincial kids have an advantage, because our kids have more time for shenanigans and homework. But this is a problem for the DepEd and school administrators and our legislators who have bigger problems to solve shouldn’t be wasting their time on this matter.

If our legislators are truly concerned with the education of our kids, what they should seriously look at is our educational system as a whole. We are already deep into the information age yet our model for education is till based on a 1920-50’s model. Kids are still made to memorize information that they can Google or even verbally ask Siri or Alexa to look up for them. How effective will more homework be if we are going to give them more homework based on that outdated model of education? Instead of focusing on inane matters like a ban on weekend homework that could be decided by educators and school administrators, why can’t our legislators take a look at the big picture to see what can be done better? Why are they wasting their time on little things that have small impacts when there are bigger and more important matters facing our country and its youth?

While I am enjoying and agree with the school policy that discourages weekend homework for my kids, I think these proposed laws to ban it are unnecessary, a waste of taxpayer’s money, and a red mark on the performance of our legislature. Is that all they can come up with at this point in time? Maybe our legislators need to legislate compulsory weekend homework for themselves and their staff so they don’t waste time taking selfies and watching basketball games.*  

Follow on Twitter: @bindadu
Email:carlo.leonardia@gmail.com

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