On the Necessity of Homework (again)


Roaming here and there on the internet I have actually realized that the homework issue is not only Italian but it has become a trend topic all over the world.I had already dealt with this subject a couple of years ago, but having read such an enormous amount of “qualified” opinions lately and followed “high quality” debates on the matter, I cannot but update my point of view about it.
First of all, you have to know that last summer a serious rebellion took place in Italy against the annoying summer homework habit in particular and homework in general. This rebellion was led by many defiant parents armed of paper, cameras and Facebook . Yes Facebook, after all, any age has the kind of rebellion it deserves. However, these enlightened fathers and mothers decided to give evidence of their acts posting the letters they had sent to the teachers of their children, with which they informed them, that  they had gone on a sort of homework strike that summer, of course, giving adequate reasons. One them went viral and this is the glorious text:

Varese,  September 11th 2016,

Good morning, my name is Mario Peiretti and I am Mattia’s father. I would like to inform you that this year, like every year, my son has not done the summer homework. We have done many things over the summer, however: long cycling rides, camp life, managing the house and the kitchen. We built a new desk together and I helped him, listening and giving advice, in his primary interest: electronic programming. He has made considerable progress. I am increasingly convinced that summer homework is deleterious, in fact, I have never seen serious professionals taking  their work on holiday. You have about nine months to teach notions and culture, while I have three full months to teach him to live. I am convinced he will approach the new school year fresh and rested and therefore; more well-disposed. Several teachers, psychologists and lawyers share my thoughts. However, I am available for a meeting , if necessary. Marino Peiretti.

I am sure, those teachers were looking forward to talking to Mr Marino Peiretti. When we read such letters, we, teachers cannot but feel a little humiliated and frustrated as well. Of course, we understand that modern generations require different learning approaches, but homework cannot be considered a pointless deliberate moment of torture only. When we were students, we detested homework as well, but despite boredom, fatigue we understood that it was good for us after all.

But the point is, teachers of the world, do you want to keep on spending your time to try and convince rioting parents of the goodness of your intentions? Is this really our battle? Because, you know what? If they don’t want to do their homework, well, feel free, don’t do it ! Try to imagine, my friends, our life would improve a lot: no homework to plan or correct, no drama to face every time you find out someone who didn’t accomplish his duty, no more improbable excuses to hear ( modem implosion, permanent printer unavailability… new generation excuses, of course). Imagine, we would be loved and appreciated, we could live peacefully and maybe we could even receive thankful letters that could go viral on the internet too, with thousands and thousands of likes. Imagine. We will finally reach that state of bliss, we have always craved for, and then I’m sure, my friends, only then, “our” day will come. The day, when somebody like Matteo’s father will show up to ask your advice on how his child could improve his Maths grades, for example. That day, you will welcome him with a bright Buddha like smile and you will tell him these words: ” How strange?” ” Camping didn’t work, right?” “What about trying with fishing, this time!”


82 thoughts on “On the Necessity of Homework (again)

    • Hi Tony, I agree and despite the tone of this article, I never give summer homework. Sometimes I might suggest some good reads. That is all. However, here in Italy we have three month vacations and if they spend a couple of weeks doing some homework, I don’t think it is a big deal.

    • In this topic, everyone gives their opinion by personal experience, and I think it cannot be disputed. In my opinion homework shouldn’t take all of your free time, but it shouldn’t take 2 minutes to do either. Balance is key and I am sure it’s true because it applies to anything in life. I think the same thing for summer homework, it shouldn’t be stressful, but it’s surely necessary. I think the article has a good point, its tone is a bit accusatory but it gives the right idea of how stressful it is to confront with this type of parents

  1. I see both sides. It seems to me there should be a balance so that each student has a summer that is mostly about exploring life plus some but not too much homework. We didn’t have quite so much homework in the ’60s and ’70s as they appear to do now. ‘All work and no play…’!

      • As the world has different cultures, economies, and academic levels, children might not have “things to do”. In my case, as a university teacher of a third world country, most of my students certainly have many activities to do. So, I must look for balance. I suggest before holidays, not necessarily Summer: “Those who would like to improve their abilities have identified their mistakes (along the course we identify the weak and strong points). You know where the exercises are to be done. Time is on your side (or against). Ask your willing”. I love your writing, dear e-Tinkerbell. With a shake in hand, a true fan.

  2. Balance between homework and breaks challenges teacher’s and students’s abilities; and, excess becomes the referee. Willing watches. Great essay, e-Tinkerbell.

  3. Homework on material that was covered in class as a tool to support learning is valuable. Homework in advance of material that will be covered in class is an exercise in frustration and self-doubt for many students and parents. In NYC, with all the after-school activities that are de rigueur for a well-rounded education, as well as parents’ work schedules, striking a balance is quite the challenge. Homework for the sake of homework is painful.

    Although my daughter is long past school age, I still have nightmares about the many assignments we struggled through because they were given before the lesson was taught. Oy! 😉 xoM

  4. When long summer breaks were needed for children to help their parents with the harvest and so on it made absolute sense, but now? Should we not now have a more even distribution of schooling and holidays throughout the year? Then the cry that educationalists have, that students lose key academic skills over the ten weeks or so, will become less shrill. Such arrangements as we now have need not be set in stone!

    • It sounds reasonable, but here it would be impossible for climatic reasons. In June and September it is hot and only a few schools have conditioned air. School year usually starts on Sempember 15th and the heat is often unbearable. When I was a little girl, school started on the first of October and that’s why August was for everybody the beginning of summer homework time. Of course, I hated it. 😅🙋

  5. what a wonderful time reading your wise dissertation…thanks a lot. Sorry I can’t read any longer…I have to do my homework and housework and extra teacher’s homework 😦

    • I understand, he has got some good points, however, teachers and parents should work together rather than fight and of fb. In those three months when that father taught his son the true meaning of life, probably missed that in real life there are unpleasant , boring but sometimes useful things to do that cannot be avoided. A child should learn to organize his time between what is felt pleasant and unpleasant, that is life.at least mine. 😉🙋

  6. I think a lot of the types of homework set are a waste of time and an intrusion on other useful activities. ‘Projects’ are often almost exclusively the work of parents, but not all parents are willing or able to be involved — to the detriment of the child. If work cannot be completed in school time, the curriculum is probably overloaded. One has to ask what proportion of the material taught is really necessary towards an understanding of each subject.

  7. My friend’s son recently said to her mother after his first few weeks at school: ‘When are we going to do something I want to do, something I’m interested in?’ In a stroke he destroyed the primary school education system (in the UK). Why did he say this? Because he was bored. Bored with the endless repetition and stupid homework (he’s 5). He’d been travelling in Morocco and Europe with his parents for the last two years before starting school. Seeing, learning, feeling. Now at school, it’s all incredibly boring. Luckily, his parents are taking him out of school for the year and going travelling again. For his benefit mainly. So he can start learning something new again.

    • This is such a Romantic vision of education! However, what should a boy of 5, who has been travelling for much of his (short) entire life, spot as interesting??? Students are taught what is necessary and necessary may sometimes be interesting but boring as well. The concept of interesting varies according to age. For example, I used to be a real Maths talent and every time there were, Literature, History, Latin(🙀) classes, my brain turned off. In the long run I ended up teaching literature and enjoying writing. Boring had become interesting. And you know what Philip, I think that children should be taught to cope with boredom. They would be able to appreciate life more. 🙋

      • I agree with you, however, my point is that what children are taught in schools (for some) is boring. My friend’s son likes fishing, nature and being outside. Yet, he spends all his time inside a classroom. He’s bored because he’s learning from books rather than hands on experience. This is the problem with schooling these days. It’s too classroom orientated and focussed on results. Sports isn’t very encouraged either. When i went to school in the 1980s, we did sport three/four times a week. And always went out for walks, days out, all sorts of things. EDUCATION should focus on the children NOT the politicians, so-called experts and the careers of educational officials.

      • I competely agree with your conclusions. Too often I have had the feeling that the too many school reforms regards mostly those who will make an advancement in career out of them.

  8. I think that it is necessary to find a balance. Some of my teachers found it. If we don’t do aANYthing during the summer, we risk to forget what we have studied during the year so we need to do some exercises. On the other hand we need to rest, have fun, and enjoy the free time doing all the things we haven’t time to do when we go to school. In addiction, being a student I can say that if the homework IS too much, the students don’t do IT or they just copy IT. If teachers give the right quantity of homework, good students will do it without having any problem.

  9. I think that homework sometimes IS fundamental, but at a certain age, when you are indipendent, you can manage your homeworh depending on your abilities for each subject. So that if you are good at organizING you will have free time, but, at the same time, teachers should let you do the homework you think is better for you.

  10. About”on the Necessity of homework”I think that homework IS important in the 9 months of school but during summer I don’t want to do anything else… Finally I think that Mario Peiretti is right.

  11. I’m a student and I can affirm that summer homework isn’t a “torture” and it doesn’t limit sudents’ activities in Summer if it isn’t really too much, but it never happens.
    I can’t understand these parents’ fury: if they didn’t think of the homework as a torment they could notice that homework isn’t so terrible and they could support their children, because summer homework is necessary for an untraumatic back to school!
    Moreover, I think that teachers assign homework just to make better students and better people… Of course I don’t enjoy doing my homework but it’s fundamental… and it’s also a “lesson of life”, you can’t get something for nothing.

  12. Holiday homework IS very important, because we don’t forget what has been done during the school year, but it should not be too much so that we can spend a nice and relaxing holiday.

  13. I think that the homework during the holidays is necessary, because if you do not make at all your homework during the holidays the next year you will forget all the program of the previous year

  14. Assigning homework is OK but it’s so normal that this annoys students, especially in holiday.
    It’s quite obvious that everybody wants to enjoy all their leisure time. Sometimes teachers don’t care at all if you have done your homeworks. I perfectly know that if teachers don’t assign to us homework, many students may have low grades. In the end, I think that anyone can choose to do or not to do homework.

  15. It is important to remember what we have learned during the nine months of school. I think exercise is important, but often teachers assign a lot of homework on holidays. In summer we also need to relax and enjoy ourselves.

  16. Teachers’ duty is to give students all directions for learning and practising what has been done in class. Those directions are given by homework which must be enough but not too much because it could demoralize students. If this happens they don’t accomplish homework which become useless. In conclusion teachers have to find the balance to make homework useful and the easiest possibile. Then it’s up to students to decide how to act, then you’ll see their responsibility.

  17. In New Zealand we have now divided the school year into four terms so that except for the summer break, it’s easier to cope with fatigue and the problem we had of a long winter term. I would take my children out of school then for a few days because they were too jaded to take in what was being taught anyway…I never apologised or pretended they were sick… just told the truth!!!
    I actually think sensible homework assignments are good training for learning to concentrate and work alone… which will happen in University anyway. Fascinating discussion..

  18. I think the parents very often exagerate it. They think to do the best for their children but it’s wrong.
    Obviously several teachers charge their students with too much homework, while other don’t.
    To me homework have to keep the students “in line” (that is practise). Teachers should assigne the right amount of work and they should understand kids need to rest as well as to practice.

  19. I think that everyone has the right to decision so if you don’t think that homework is good for you, you may not do it but when you take this decision you can’t take a step back. Parents can’t argue with teachers If their sons don’t get the grades they think to deserve, because If teachers give homework , it is just for students’education rathher than for their own business.

  20. I think that it is necessary to give homework, however many teachers believe that we only have to study their subject and therefore us students can be overloaded with homework. Maybe a solution could be to look at the class register before assigning homework and adapt the amount of homework given. In terms of summer homework we have three months to organise ourselves.

  21. In my opinion, homework is necessary because we can improve ourselves, but homework doesn’t have to be too much because we have other homework to do and other activities like sport. I think that during holidays teachers should give less homework, so that we can relax and enjoy ourselves

  22. In my opinion, teachers shouldn’t give any summer homework since students should relax and unplug from studying. I suggest that some teachers may give some books to read or a revision of the things studied all over the year. I sincerely think that the best teachers are the ones who don’t give much homework, and don’t do lots of class works. Teachers should explain the things clearly and arrive in class on time.

  23. I Think that it’s right not to give homework for summer holidays. But I Think it’s not correct that the parents use social network to post private letters addressed to the teacher of their children. Also i think that students should study on their own the subject in which are not very good.

  24. I think we should’nt have any summer homework because they’re not good for us.It’s summer and we need to enjoy it.

  25. As a student, I cannot help but complain about homework once in a while. However, summer homework is a different story, because in the three long months of summer holidays one must study or at least revise, otherwise we are bound to forget. This being said, teachers in general must also consider that they aren’t the only ones giving homework, and that their subject isn’t the only one that we have to study. In conclusion I think that homework is necessary during a long break such as the summer holidays, but that it should be moderated, so that students still have plenty of time to enjoy their well deserved vacation after such a long period spent inside the classroom.

  26. Homework is important. It enhances what we have learned at school. Now, given that homework is very important, I wish to say that teachers shouldn’t exaggerate, because I think we must also have time for passions outside school walls.

    • Dear Eleonora, couldn’t another aspect of the question be that you are often unable to plan you homework for the week, and this is why eventually “a little” is perceived as “a lot”?

  27. I think that doing homework is right if it is not too much, so everyone is free to do what they want . I also think that homework is good exercise to keep our minds trained.

    • You can be right, not too much homework, but when you decide to spare a moment of your intense life to do it, you must be focused. Had you acted in this way in this case, for example, you would have realized that “homework” is always singular, as singular in the verb which follows it etc. as I wrote in the post ( and the title itself, actually). When one does his homework in this way, you are right, it is only a waste of time.

  28. As a student obviously I hate doing homework, but I cannot deny that it is useful, especially during summer holidays. It is important because it helps you remember what you have done during the past nine month at school, so you will be prepared for the next topics.

  29. For me homework is always useful, but the real problem is the amount of the homework we are given you during the school year or even summer.There are a lot of subjects, and if the homework given for each subject is too much, it is difficult to do it all, and learning becomes hard.

  30. For me, being a boy, homework during the summer is useless and I say this because I don’t want to use some of my free months to study. But if I looked at them with the result that they bring, I would say that, instead, they are very useful. As others have noticed before me, the problem is the amount of these tasks. If teachers reduced the amount of homework, they would be more useful than now.

  31. For me, homework is very important because I’m dyslexic, so I need it to practice during the week. Homework is used to fix the topics explained in class. It is often boring to make it and it might seem like a “waste of time”, but in my opinion homework is very important. But it doesn’t have to be too muchbecause you don’t have time for your things.

  32. The way I see it, every student should decide if he needs to do the homework or not based on his grades or his need to learn more about a certain school subject.

  33. What an interesting article!
    I agree with a part of it. As in my opinion it’s
    true that sometimes a few teachers give us a
    lot of homework during the holidays, but
    there are others who don’t do it. I think
    that we should be just a bit more “free”
    during the summer but we should also study
    the necessary things…
    I think that Mattia’s father is, in a side, right
    in this letter, because during the summer he
    taught to his son important things and also
    how to use his brain in a different way.
    I wouldn’t have agreed with him if the son
    passed all his days on the phone instead of
    studying of course. I think that in the modern life phones are the cause of a lot of problems, because they make us unfree and slaves.
    The most disappointing thing is that nowadays people think that it’s all for granted.

  34. I read this article a lot of times. I do not agree with what Mattia’s father wrote. I understand that the father and son time is important but I do not like the way he treated the teacher. Teacher use their free time to correct homework and plan the lessons .Teachers help and teach students and the Dad should say just thank you for that help.
    I think it is correct to do homework in the summer holiday. In Italy we have 3 month holiday. This is a long holiday for study, play and have fun. For me, it is important do homework to study what we have not understood during the school year and for practice.

  35. In my opinion, homework is important, because it trains you and helps you to remember and acquire the things previously studied. However, it would be better if these homework were not a duty. So the student could concentrate more on the subjects in which he is worst, and have more free time to cultivate his passions.

  36. For me homework during holidays is right, but the quantity is wrong! Because teachers often give a lot of homework to make sure students are prepared when they return from vacation. This seems correct to me, but if teachers think all this way , the students will not be able to enjoy their holidays fully i.

  37. In my opinion, homework is important, because it trains you and helps you remember and acquire the things previously studied. However, it would be better if this homework were not a duty. So the student could concentrate more on the subjects in which he is not so good at, and to have more free time “to cultivate” his passions.

  38. For me, homework HAS a meaning only if iIT IS in given in the correct amount.
    Especially during holidays, where the main concern should be that of relaxing and having fun, the only goal in assigning homework is to not forget what it has been done previously.
    To achieve this goal for some people two exercises per week are enough, while perhaps other people need a little more.
    Obviously, teachers cannot assign different exercises to each student but they can simply leave them act in a more autonomous and responsible way.

  39. In my opinion, homework shouldn’t be compulsory. Everyone must be free to decide whether or not to do their homework. This because not doing IT would only lead to deficiencies in the subject and therefore, one should be wise enough to understand that homework is necessary to do well . It is also true that not everybody needs to do hundreds of exercises, so homework should be given according to students’ needs.

  40. In my opinions Mr Peiretti is partially right because during holidays you cannot only think about homework but you also have to learn the notions you don’t learn at school.
    In my opinion Mr Peiretti is partialy wrong because you always have to do your homework to keep your mind active on school topics.
    I think studens have to do their homework but I also think that teachers don’t have to give too much homework.

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