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Swedish Town Considers Homework Ban, Longer School Day

Friday, June 20th, 2014

The Swedish town of Hallstahammars is reportedly considering a school-sanctioned ban on homework, in an attempt to encourage students to learn efficiently, which means minimizing the stress that can come with an unmanageable homework load.  More from ABC News:

Leena Millberg, the head of schools in Hallstahammars, said officials for the municipal government are still investigating if the proposal to ban homework makes sense. However, the students of Hallstahammars shouldn’t jump for joy just yet. Millberg said if the proposal does go through it’s likely that the school day would be lengthened.

“When children learn to read, for example … we often give them homework to train,” Millberg told ABC News. “If we want to do that in the school day, we may need to make the school day a bit longer.”

The debate is not unique to the town hall of Hallstahammars, according to education experts.

Arguments for and against homework have raged on and off for decades according to Harris Cooper, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, who has researched how homework impacts families.

“It comes in waves,” said Cooper. “Generally it comes into public consciousness, giving kids too much or too little, depending on broader societal [news].”

Cooper said when a country’s reading or math comprehension is ranked lower than expected it can lead officials to want to ramp up homework. However, when studies show children are overworked or stressed, Cooper said officials will look at pulling back on assignments. In 2012, French President Francoise Hollande proposed banning homework in the country, though that proposal did not go through.

Cooper said he did not know of a country or region that has fully banned homework from schools. “Homework has been with us for a century,” said Cooper.

Image: Girl doing homework, via Shutterstock

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