Less homework, more development

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The Independent Online
From Ms Jane Akister

Sir: With regard to your article "11-year-olds shun homework for TV" (17 November), what is homework?

The research reported, in common with other recent reports on this topic, fails to consider the range of activities undertaken by children outside school that are furthering their skills development. These include music lessons and practice, dance and drama lessons, gymnastics, swimming lessons, football training and scouting activities, to name a few. They all offer opportunities for children to develop fitness, co-ordination, ability to focus on goals, team spirit and commitment.

I am sure that many children watch too much television, but I think if you take a wider view of learning, you will find many children at primary school do at least half an hour of "homework" a day.

Many schools expect children to read each night. Most children do not consider this to be homework. This is as it should be. We need children to develop skills and maintain interest. If children are set homework at too early an age, it becomes something the parents do. It also often becomes a battleground. Formal homework should not be set until children are able to organise and manage it independently.

Perhaps the National Foundation for Educational Research, David Blunkett and others could take a more constructive view of learning - encouraging and valuing extra-curricular activities, rather than seeking to extend the ordinary school day.

Yours sincerely,

Jane Akister

Senior Lecturer

Anglia Polytechnic University,

Cambridge

17 November

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