A global survey of parents has reignited debate about the value, or otherwise, of homework for schoolchildren, according to a report on ABC Radio Melbourne.
The survey of more than 27,000 parents was conducted by the Varkey Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving education standards for underprivileged children.
Parents were questioned about their attitudes towards education, the quality of local schools and their concerns for their children’s futures.
They were also asked how much time, on average, they spent helping their children academically per week.
When ranked from most time spent to least, Australia ranked 23rd of the 29 countries surveyed, with 13 percent of parents saying they spent seven hours or more reading to their children or helping them with homework.
India was ranked first, with 62 percent of parents surveyed spending more than seven hours a week helping their children.
Dr Misty Adoniou, an associate professor in language and literacy at the University of Canberra, told ABC Radio Melbourne‘s Jacinta Parsons and Sami Shah that she found the survey results “very interesting”.
“It showed us that those countries that are spending a lot of time with their kids doing homework are also the countries that are performing lowest on international scores of reading and writing,” she said.
Dr Adoniou said it was possible Australian parents felt less compelled to help their children academically because the country’s schools were “doing their job well”.
Homework has been a part of the Australian school experience for more than 100 years.
Some experts say homework is beneficial if it reinforces learning that has happened at school.
However, Dr Adoniou pointed to research showing there was little or no value in setting homework for primary school students.
When asked why primary teachers were still setting homework, she said it was “a really good question” that she often asked both teachers and parents.
“Teachers answer saying it’s parents that want it, and parents answer by saying it’s the teachers that send it home, so perhaps there’s a bit of a communication gap happening there.”