Thursday, 20 March 2014

A Study on Homework

This week I would like to turn your eyes to homework, or 'Home Learning' as it has been dubbed recently at Hampstead (no doubt another 'initiative' to hide the fact that it is 'work' they are making you do, not learning). Homework is the plight of all students, and it is a mix of both school and homework that consumes many students' time, leaving them little to do other activities. A Hampstead day consumes six and a half hours of your day. Now, if you factor in an average 30 minutes travel time to and from school, as well 1-2 hours, school could, in fact, end up taking a good nine and a half hours. So, surely, the answer to this, is to get rid of Homework, and make sure that everything a student needs is taught in school time?

Some, and I am sure many student readers, are very keen for this to become reality, but there may be a simpler, even more convenient option to hand for our students of the 21st century. A study by the London School of Economics and Political Science has found that people who work from home are "happier and more productive". So, rather than doing all your learning within school time, it is done as and when students please from home.

This ideal isn't an impossible task. At Hampstead, every teacher has their own school email, there are online learning resources for mostly all subjects taught in KS4 and KS5, such as BBC Bitesize, as well as numerous workbooks and guides that students are being given in lieu of exams. If you would imagine, for a second, this scenario:

A student, on a Monday, is emailed a week's worth of work from each teacher, whether it be written, listening, research, you name it, which they have until Friday to complete. It is then up to them as to when they complete the work, and how much. The teachers take in the work on the Friday, and have it marked for the following week. Students who complete all the work will get the grades, which will be a true show of their work ethic to prospective employers, and the complacent will fail and not meet their aspirations.

The LSE study does, however, say that the happiest employees are "those who can work partially from home and partially in the office. They report the highest levels of work/life satisfaction because they can juggle personal responsibilities yet are not socially isolated", so it may be that on one day a week, you are free to come to school to socialise with peers, meet if you are part of a collective for a project, and ask teachers' advice on any work.

Another thing to touch on is the placement of school within the day. Thanks to the Society of Lycanthropic Twats the school day now starts 8:35 in the morning, meaning some students have to awake at 5:00 in the morning, or earlier, just to get in the door on time. This is, of course, is depriving them of one thing that teenagers need in excessive quantities: sleep. A study by the Bradley Hasbro Research Centre has found that a later start for students improves sleep, as well as functioning in the day. Quoting the article, it says that "Sleep deprivation is epidemic among adolescents, with potentially serious impacts on mental and physical health, safety and learning. Early high school start times contribute to this problem," and that "Most teenagers undergo a biological shift to a later sleep-wake cycle, which can make early school start times particularly challenging."

In the study, that tested the functions of teenage students with different rising times, Dr. Boergers found that "Daytime sleepiness, depressed mood and caffeine use were all significantly reduced after the delay in school start time. The later school start time had no effect on the number of hours students spent doing homework, playing sports or engaging in extracurricular activities."

In light of this research we have found that, in fact, late starts are better for students, and more independent working generates happier, more functional students.

DISCLAIMER: This Hampstead Trash article has been written to inform readers, portraying a factual argument over a specific subject or to report objectively on an event that has occurred.


  1. Right, let's get a few things straight. 6 and half hours is not a long day by anyone's yardstick and the homework is there to give you and your colleagues a framework to study against when you are not in school. If the school day did actually run to 9 hours there would be no need for homework. So stop moaning about that. Quite frankly, with all your cheeky trips to Sam's and hanging around with people I'm surprised you can even count the 6.5 hours as productive. I understand your point about being at school for 8:30am is not within your biorythmic sphere, but frankly, boo hoo Bono, some of you will eventually get jobs and guess what? you'll need to be at work by 8:30am then put in about 8 to 9 hours worth of work. Get over it and get on with it. I reject your argument about the homework so get back to your room and keep studying to avoid being lazy and feckless. Personally I don't think they give you enough.

    1. Thank you for your interesting comment, it certainly shows an opposite opinion. Before we go any further, we should reiterate that this post is all opinion based on factual studies and general student consensus, and you are more than welcome to disagree. However, there are a few points you address that we would like to further. Firstly, we state in the article that the total average Hampstead day can consume up to nine and a half, rather than the 6.5 solely taken up by school. It may be true that a working day of 6.5 hours is not ‘a long day by anyone’s yardstick’, but not only is a 9 and a half hour day only half an hour shorter than the average adult working day, but this is also children, not adults, that we are talking about, classed so because they are not mature enough to function and concentrate as much as adults. Children should be eased into working longer, such as is with 6th period lessons in later KS4 and KS5, and independent work at University level.
      Moving on, at no point in the article do we say no one should do homework, that would be callous and ill-thought-through. We ask after its removal as a rhetorical question, which is subsequently disproven. We do call it a ‘plight’, but we doubt you would find a student that wouldn’t, and, in fact, we use the LSE study to endorse the use of independent work as it is proven to make people happier. The point of the article, as you have managed to drastically miss, is not that students should not do any homework, but they should do homework that is more research based and independent, modelled on the coursework model that was replaced by the current Conservative Government in 2010. This is, after all, closer to the type of work you would be doing at University and working level.
      If you are asking us to stop moaning, then you have, again, slightly missed the point of this blog. Not only is this blog used for disenfranchised students to voice view, news and criticism, it is also used intermittently for ranting (see SLUDGE’s Obituary for a prime example of this). With regards to the 8:30 start, there is a flaw with your argument: that the circadian rhythm of a teenager is different to that of an adult; by the time you have reached adulthood your body can cope better with early starts. Surely, if you want to strive to increase productivity in those precious 6.5 hours we get, you would do anything to make sure students were awake for them.
      We lay this argument to rest with a little comprehensive motto: ‘Those that strive to do, will, and those that don’t work at Sam’s’. State education is an opt-in system, and we are more than capable of deploring the current system and being able to use it for our own betterment. This is a peaceful protest, not a strike.

    2. Dear Bono,
      As I said before, Boo Hoo.
      Your construct of 9.5 hours is a classic argumentative exaggerated fallacy which includes travel time (1hour) and homework (Variable). Now, maths aside, 6.5 hours is not a long day.
      I also reject the mollycoddled approach that children should be 'eased-in'. This is a late 20th century idea which came in after adjusting child labour laws (for the better) that is in danger of wrapping countless Jocasters and Tarquins in bubble wrap by going far to far to the other end of the spectrum and engendering lazyiness. There are very few cultures around the world that don't expect children to pitch in and work. Am I saying you should all be 'down't pit' no clearly not. I am saying that sitting on your behind and learning should not be considered that taxing a form of work and from your first world vantage point you should consider yourselves privileged to be able to be paid for to learn and soak up knowledge. The least you can do in return is take that responsibility seriously.
      Also I think your argument would hold a lot more credance if you actually did work using self study and did not actually require the framework. For the very few minority of you this might be better, the majority wouldn't lift a finger.
      My own child, you know who you are, given the opportunity to go down this road did precisely nothing.
      Thus you betray the most obvious trait of any teenager, selfishness, the ability to only see the argument from your point of view and not empathise with the wider issue.
      As you state, you are children, privileged, not working on farms or in child labor camps, not even working to the South Korean education system (those guys work 18 hour days), so as all good parents I will lay this argument to rest with this saying: 'Go to your room'.
      Now, if you want to pick my points apart line by line as you have previously and state I have 'missed the point' repeatedly then you are clearly not the debator I had you figured for.

    3. Dear Mr. Gove,

      We seemed to have got a little bogged down in the length of the school day, rather than the point that the article was making about it. We were saying that, in this technological age, it seems illogical to travel to somewhere for long periods of time to do something which could be done whilst we were still at home, much like the working from home that many adults do. The article does not contest the amount of work a student should have to do; we believe that if you are in full-time education, the majority of the work you do is to be educating yourself. What we are contesting is the need for a student to be in school working, rather than at home working.

      Now, you could argue that students being at the helm of their own education could lead to complacency, and we do not detest that fact. Again, those that strive to do, will, and those that don’t work at Sam’s. We are not dealing with the stereotypical *‘Jocasta’s and ‘Tarquin’s; Hampstead is a comprehensive, and there have been a few cases over the years that Trash Reporters have been aware of where the Child Labour laws you lambaste for being too mollycoddling have been the only thing the school can use to get certain students out of their jobs and in learning.

      We deplore your point about teenagers having selfish traits, as will many of the readers of this blog. It is the type of stereotype and generalisation that portrays you as a sweeping philistine that won’t hear the views of anyone else, that believes the ‘youth’ of today as some feral underclass. It is ironic that you brand teenagers selfish on a blog, run by teenagers, that is trying to highlight and change the problems for both teenagers, teachers and parents alike.

      Now, if we weren’t to pick your points apart, what kind of *debater would that make us? I have never seen a debate where one side voiced their views whilst the other sat idly doing nothing. The fact that you say that merely upholds the notion that you do not want to hear anyone else’s point of view. We would agree with you that this idea would only benefit a few, but do we want a grading system wherein everyone scores A’s, or do we want one that will show prospective employers who and who isn’t the best at working independently? We honestly do not know, it was simply an idea posted on the internet, not a policy paper submitted to the Board of Education. Also, we agree that, in the grand scheme of things, yes, we are rather privileged, but that doesn’t mean we are the most privileged; things could be better. As we have stated above, there are certain students who aren’t as privileged.

      We are not going to ask you to re-read the article, as your comments have had little to do with the general concept of the article, and more you venting your spleen about the state of homework, the school day, teenage culture and the apparent transgressions of this blog and some of the ideas that it publishes, which is all fair enough.

      Again, thank you for your time and your opinions.

  2. To play devils advocate, that person is picking on the article as it does have a fair few problems. whilst the point you make, I do agree with to a certain degree. the arguments you use, in my own sludgy opinion, are useless.

    Regardless of where and how long a student should study, the problem I find in this country's educational system is not the hours, or the amount of homework (although, homework should not be given until you are in secondary school). Its the lack of motivation students have (i would suggest this is due to teachers not being happy). You simply cannot suggest that it is more beneficial to have more hours at home study or more hours of free time. Motivation needs to be addressed, and then we can look at how much work is required to be done.

    We can only start to assimilate the, brilliant in my opinion, Scandinavian educational systems when we address the physical and mental welfare of students, as well as the mental welfare of teachers, across the country. In Finland they have no homework till they are 12, no exams till they 15. But this did not come by simply changing student work hours in an instant.

    The research you reference regarding sleep deprivation is laughed at in all spheres of child psychology and educational research. I myself thought this was a great idea when I heard of a similar study suggesting that the school day should start at 11. Once again, It all goes down to motivation. Students, of all ages, should be given motivation to go to school. Regardless of what time it is, if a student wants to go, they will go.

    I see where they're coming from by saying "selfishness, the ability to only see the argument from your point of view and not empathise with the wider issue." But they forget that they're the generation that brought us up, we are growing in their society, not ours. And all their points theyre making are of observations that students are "feckless", its their decisions on voting for "feckless" education ministers that have turned us out this way. It is also to do with the lack of autonomy teachers and schools in general have to work around, that have lead to this young generation of the "lazy and feckless".

    To sumerise for you stupid lazy feckless students carers out there: If a teacher is happy, the student is happy. If a student is happy, everybody is happy.

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