French President Francois Hollande is planning to eliminate homework for elementary and junior high school students is drawing criticism from the very folks it was supposed to help – poor people. The socialist leader who came into office in May argued that homework hurts kids from poor and troubled homes. But as Hollande’s administration implements the new rule, poor families and their advocates say underprivileged kids need the structure and purpose that homework provides.
“Poor people want homework because they know that school is very important, and the only chance — the only possibility — they have to give their children a better life is if their children succeed at school,” Emmanuel Davidenkoff, editor-in-chief of L’Etudiant, a magazine and website devoted to French school and education, told NPR.
Hollande says that homework favors wealthy families because they are more likely to have the time and ability to support and supervise their children’s after-school efforts. This strange plan is part of a bigger effort aimed at making primary and secondary school more enjoyable for children and comes as the country falls behind other industrialized nations – including the U.S. – in reading and science.
Right now students in France attend classes 4 days a week but the school day is long and instruction is typically rote.
Guy Winch, a psychologist who has written about homework in the American system recently wrote in Psychology Today that educators must strike a balance to ensure healthy childhood development.
“One easy guideline to keep in mind is that children should be assigned no more than 10 minutes a day of homework per grade level,” Winch wrote. “A sixth grader should be doing no more than an hour of homework a day, and a senior in high school should have no more than two hours a day of homework.”