That is the question. Or is it?
Two bills have been filed in congress seeking to ban homework as a requirement for schools. One seeks to ban homework in general and the other only seeks to ban it during the weekends. It has been interesting following the debate on this issue.
The proponents of the bills, as well as those who are pushing for these, say that it promotes more quality time for the children and parents and enhances well-being by eliminating a stress factor. Besides, they say, a lot of parents or tutors end up doing the homework anyway.
Those against the measure say that by doing this, we are producing wimps. Pile on the homework. Life is more difficult so we should prepare them for it instead of running away from it.
If you have been reading my previous articles, you could say that I favor throwing out the homework. But focusing on homework alone, however, is missing the point. I say throw out the homework, and the entire curriculum as well.
You see, the problem is not whether or not to give homework, because if a child is inclined to learn a certain topic, you can pile all the homework you want and he will do it. But if a child is not interested, no amount of homework will make him learn. Oh, he will perhaps learn just enough to pass the quiz, then the exam, and then forget all about it.
So it is important to study motivation and purpose — not the adults’, not the parents’ nor the teachers’ nor the principal’s motivation and purpose, but the child’s.
There is a popular saying that goes, “the two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”
What education ought to be doing is helping children discover their why’s, but what is happening with education now is that it is obsessed with telling children what they should be concerned with, what they should deem as important, what they should do with their time, what they should be studying, and even what they should be wearing and how their hairstyles ought to be.
This is not what education is all about. It is not about molding or shaping the children — because that implies that we are bending them for the purpose of the molder or shaper.
Each child has a unique gift, talent and purpose. The educator’s job is to get out of the way and let them discover the joy of finding it, then support and nurture that joy.
In the words of John Taylor Gatto, “Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges. It should allow you to find values which will be your roadmap through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die.”
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.