Primary school homework should be abolished, says child psychotherapist 9 months ago

Primary school homework should be abolished, says child psychotherapist

There is "absolutely no benefit" to it, apparently...

Homework at primary school level – and potentially beyond that stage – should be done away it, according to a leading children's psychotherapist.

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In conversation on Newstalk on Thursday (31 March), Colman Noctor contended that primary school homework has "absolutely no benefit" for students.

Furthermore, Noctor argued that homework has a damaging long-term effect on a child's overall relationship with education.

"Homework is definitely up [there] in the top five of things that are discussed in therapy with children as a difficulty," Noctor began.

"And oftentimes it's a battleground for tears, arguments, rows – especially for children who struggle with buying into education, or struggle with learning, or even just struggle with being in school.

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"We've had pandemic anxieties, we've had global anxieties; but now that's all seeped away again, the homework stuff is coming back into the conversation more and more and more."

Noctor's comments arrive a week on from Taoiseach Micheál Martin announcing a once-off 'No Homework Day' for children.

The psychotherapist noted that upon looking into the matter, he found "no perceived benefits" to homework, particularly for those at primary school level.

"There are people who have done far more research on this than I, and it seems absolutely nonsensical that we would persist with something that has no benefit and causes a great deal of difficulty."

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Having written a column on the subject for the Irish Examiner this week, Noctor said he anticipated backlash from teachers, only to receive unanimous support.

"Over the last few days, every teacher that has replied said, 'You're absolutely right – it has no benefit, we shouldn't be doing it.'

"And I have no clue why or who is pushing the agenda as to why this is important."

Earlier this week, Minister for Education Norma Foley announced a major overhaul of the senior cycle of Irish education, introducing two new Leaving Certificate subjects in the process.

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Primary school level was not part of the agenda.

Continuing his argument, Noctor admitted that a stressful part of life can't necessarily simply be dismissed at a young age simply because it does present some degree of difficulty.

Asked about the impact on parents should homework be taken out of the equation, Noctor said:

"Homework isn't for parents, it's for young people.

"If we look at children who do homework, and we look at children who don't do homework – I'm talking about primary school, traditionally – there is no evidence in academic achievement between the ones who do and the ones who don't.

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"This is not one isolated study – this is global, this is a really recently researched topic.

"And what they're saying is; doing worksheets and running through things – for me, it's like saying the Angelus. You just run through it, you rush through it, you're not really thinking about it."