Why is homework important?
Schools in Finland have no homework – at least until the kids are in the senior grades. Along with long breaks (up to 1.5 hours a day) and high salaries of teachers, it is considered the reason why Finnish education system yields good and excellent results in terms of general level of education and number of college graduates. But is it?
Can you imagine studying without homework? Hardly. It has been an integral part of education for centuries and there are reasons for this. Homework is not an obscene tradition, but rather a necessity that makes a good fundament for what is learnt in class.
Starting from nursery school and up to the last years of college, you have to do a part of work on your own. First of all, it helps you revise and implement what was learnt during the lesson. When there are 20 students in the class, it is simply impossible to spend enough time on each of them (although all of them do require this individual time spent!) Thus the accent shifts from group to individual work, which is an absolute MUST in some cases (Try master Spanish without learning words at home).
Then, home assignments are also an instrument to prepare students for new topics and give them food for thought. Think about your Literature classes. It’s OK to read short stories aloud for kids in the first grade, but what then? Novels?Articles? Scientific works? There is no way it can be done otherwise.
If put widely, writing your thesis is also a home assignment, as you go through all the sources yourself with only a slightest guidance from your tutor.
Finally, homework is a means to master time management and self-organization. In your early school years, you are taught that a small amount of your time has to be sacrificed for studies. As you transfer from one grade to another this amount grows and so does your level of self-organization. You learn to find information, choose the most relevant and find time to go to libraries. Writing serious research papers in college is probably the top of it (but not the end) as it requires the most time and skill.
In other words, Finland might have reached high level of success in educating its children, but this is hardly due to the lack of homework. If properly used, homework assignments help you develop your skills and acquire new knowledge – all of these through your own efforts.