Homework — pointless PR for primary school students?

Cue the chorus of “I told you so” from students across the country. The perceived ineffectiveness of homework for primary school-aged children was reported recently in The Age article, ‘Homework in primary schools an exercise in futility, say academics’.

While expert opinion varied somewhat, the overwhelming attitude of those consulted was that homework is of little academic benefit to young students.

Dr Cooper, Professor of Education at Duke University, North Carolina, said, “Homework works but how effective it will be depends on the developmental level and home circumstances of the student. It shouldn’t be given in such large amounts that the child loses their motivation and begins to wonder whether they’re truly interested in the activity: that’s when homework turns from being good to bad.”

Experts closer to home were even more critical. John Hattie, the director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, suggested homework as it is usually undertaken has little to no effect in primary schools.

Richard Walker, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, said, “If the question is does homework improve learning and achievement as assessed by tests, then the answer, at primary level, is no. There is very little evidence to support it. At junior high school there’s a little bit of evidence to support it but it’s pretty weak and at senior high school level there’s more support.”

When you couple the apparent futility of the process with the time and efforts demanded of parents to follow through with it, the argument against homework mounts. Parents often find that they are the ones left holding the baby, in that they have to introduce and supervise tasks that are often beyond their child’s ability. This can see families up till all hours having to deal with unnecessary stress and tension.

Recently, when a parent of a grade 1 student questioned the excessive workload given by a private school, she was told, “That’s how it has always been done here.” Schools need to embrace research and consider the educational outcomes, rather than look at satisfying the expectations of a few parents. Additionally, if it is as ineffective as many are suggesting, a teacher’s time is surely better spent on more critical classroom matters.

As a psychologist and educator of more than 30 years, I established a no homework policy at Edworks. The research has proven us correct.

Rather than dictate, we encourage children to decide if and when they want to complete tasks at home. This promotes independent learning and ownership of the skills being developed. A review of the hundreds of testimonials from parents and students at our centres points to just how effective this strategy has been.

Essentially, we recognise the importance of monitoring the progress of students; not only on a week-to-week, month-to-month and year-to-year basis, but throughout the course of a single session, too. This way, we can ensure students remain on track and employ all of the necessary processes and skills required to produce the highest standard of work they are capable of. Parents find that half an hour spent at Edworks is more valuable for students than multiple hours working at home.

Finally, for those parents who are steadfast in their support of homework, Edworks has found that it is, most commonly, used more as a PR tool than anything else. As Professor Walker suggests, “In a lot of schools, the executive, the principal and deputy will emphasise homework because they know it’s good public relations: they know that parents are concerned about it. But a lot of teachers think it is a bit of a waste of time.”


By Andreas

Once upon a time there was a boy called Stevie. He loved going fishing!

One day he went fishing with Glenn and Greg. They went to a lake. Stevie put a skinny worm on a hook. He cast the rod into the little blue lake.

Guess what happened next? Stevie fell into the water and got all wet! He laughed because he thought it was funny.

Next Stevie felt his line pull hard. It was a fish! It had swallowed his skinny worm. Stevie was very happy. Glenn was sad however, because a fish had grabbed his red cap.

Stevie wound the fish in on his rod. He got it! It was a pretty yellow and blue fish, so Stevie let it go!

Smacking — archaic or acceptable?

Is smacking an effective, or even acceptable, means of disciplining your child? Popular opinion is shifting to the negative, and arguments for this stance continue to mount.

One international study, led by Professor Kang Lee, was reported recently in the article, ‘Spare the rod and save the child’. In comparing the performance of children at schools practising physical and non-physical discipline, it was found “the ability to control behaviours, to switch from one task to another, and to plan actions” were all stronger in children raised under positive parental control.

Professor Lee went on to explain that “these skills are essential for a child to succeed in school … and of course in the future, in many job situations.”

So by smacking your child, could you be hindering their opportunities for success in the classroom and beyond?

As a psychologist, I see smacking as outmoded, more often than not a response borne out of frustration and used as punishment rather than to educate or retrain.

To overcome the perceived need to smack children, parents must be more proactive and anticipate where a situation is heading before it deteriorates to the point they feel there is no alternative. A good strategy is to remember that there are far more positive techniques to employ; techniques that provide ongoing reminders that actions have consequences.

I have asked a number of kids whether they would prefer 30 seconds of pain or the denial of certain privileges. They all chose the former, with the primary reason being that the consequences linger long after physical pain subsides. Of course, the psychological consequences of smacking should be paramount.

So, while disciplining your child is certainly an important, and often very necessary, component of successful parenting, physical punishment should be avoided. Instead, consider confiscating phones, banning TV or restricting recreational activities.


Forest Rescue by Daniel Cossari

Forest Rescue
By Daniel Cossari 

One day a man called Dave was eating lunch with his family.  Once Dave finished lunch he gazed through the window.  He then said “Today I feel like going to any forest.” He got his things and got in the car.  He drove past cars, houses, lights, builders, buses and trucks.  When he passed through a tunnel he saw a forest. Dave parked his car near a big shop.

He then ran over to the forest. There was a forest tour but it was not that long. Dave ran near a big bush. Dave jumped over a tall fence and walked into the deepest part of the forest. There were birds, bears, wolves, wombats and some bugs.

Then something shook like an earthquake. This big razor saw was shooting like a star and it cut down all of the trees. Dave could just watch as the trees slammed down on the plants. It got very dangerous so Dave just ran forward down a big hill. It was not long before Dave realised that he made a big mistake and was now lost. Dave thought he could just call a rescue team, but the thing that was bothering him was if he called a rescue team he would end up in jail.

Dave was going to take a big risk. He called 000974139210975. Then the phone rang. No one was there so Dave just left a message. He saw a piece of paper, so Dave picked it up. It was sort of like that big saw he found cutting the trees. He just put it away in his pocket.

After one hour of walking, his phone rang. Dave picked it up and it was the rescue team.  Dave told the rescue team his location. The rescue team knew there were some long and dangerous rivers in the forest so they were worried about Dave. Dave sat down on some trees and looked up and he saw a yellow and red helicopter flying over the forest looking for Dave. Then suddenly some trees fell down. Dave ran as fast as he could and he then found a river. Dave saw the helicopter come down next to him. The helicopter sounded like an aeroplane and the blades almost pushed him into the river.

“Are you OK Dave?” asked the Driver.

“Yes I am!” answered Dave.

Dave then hopped in and walked to the back of the helicopter with seven other rescuers sitting on a box. He had some coffee and when he was finished, half of the helicopter was cut off!  Dave saw the driver fall down and hit a sharp tree branch then he got cut in half. The rescuers got a boat and lifejackets and they jumped in the boat with Dave. They dropped down and made water come out of the river. They kept on paddling down the river for a long time, some waves came and Dave saw some animals too. Then a bear saw them and pushed a tree down. Dave and the rescue team paddled very fast and missed the falling tree.

They then took a break but a big wave came crushing down and they went down a big waterfall. Dave was trying to block him and the rescue team from the sharp branches (like the one that cut the driver). Dave then saw some rocks fall down. Sadly some of the rescuers got hit by the rocks and some got cut by the branches.

Dave and one of the rescuers were the only ones left on the boat. The rescuer and Dave saw some green trees that they could jump down on. Dave jumped down first. Dave landed safely on a green tree then the rescuer jumped down, but he fell into the waterfall and got badly hurt. Dave got the rescuer’s hand and helped him up. The rescuer got his phone and called a helicopter and it came in ten minutes. They both got in the helicopter and took Dave home.

When Dave got home he wanted to say thank you to the rescuer but the Driver said “The rescuer died in the helicopter because of his injury.” Dave felt sad that the rescuer died but he was happy to be with his family.

Tree House of Doom by Wen

This is a terrific story Wen submitted for the Andy Griffiths writing competition.

Tree House of Doom
By Wen

“I can’t believe the Tree House of Doom is finally here!” squealed Joe to his friend, Ben.

Joe was indeed right; the Tree House of Doom was in fact the largest attraction ever built in a small theme park such as Luna Park. Even Disneyland had not seen the likes of it in its long and colourful history, and yet, Luna Park had the best ride in the world.

Since the ride was popular and the staff at Luna Park were not even remotely able to cope with the numbers who wanted to experience the ride, a waiting list policy was enforced. Joe and Ben had been among the first people to reserve their spots on the attraction and therefore were going to experience the attraction tomorrow!!

“Apparently, you start in a haunted tree house and you get to sit in a carriage which follows all these vines to other tree houses where fake monsters try to scare you and some of the vines the carriage follows have really steep drops!” Joe explained to Ben.

“I even heard the last drop is over 20 metres!” exclaimed Ben. “The Tree house of Doom is going to be the best ride ever!”