Opinion: Classwork, Homework and Housework



The housework that a student does should also be given due academic credit as it imparts skill that forms part of learning process

Published Date – 15 April 2024, 11:56 PM

Opinion: Classwork, Homework and Housework

By KSS Seshan

The secondary school phase in the hierarchy of the educational system today is midway between the primary stage and the higher educational system. Lower Kindergarten (LKG) to 5th grade form a part of the primary level classes while 6th-10th grade comes under secondary school and above it is broadly categorised as the higher educational level. The higher educational phase has three segments. While Plus-two, also known as Intermediate, is the first, the degree course at the collegiate level is the second and the third is the postgraduate course under the University level. Of the primary, secondary and higher educational levels, secondary school has greater significance as it is the single deciding phase of the future course of education of the children.

Secondary School
When the child comes to the 6th grade, the entry point to the secondary school, s/he is generally about 10 years of age. From then on till about the 15th year, the child navigates through this phase before moving on to the Plus 2 stage. This is the stage when the child is metamorphosed into a young adult with visible signs of physical, mental and emotional transformation. The rapid growth both in physical and mental makeup also leads to psychological maturity. The child exhibits independent traits that ultimately lead to increasing individualism.

The secondary school level also witnesses a major transformation in the methods and contents of the curriculum. At the primary level, most of the learning process is around teachers and the classroom plays a pivotal role. However, at the collegiate and higher educational levels, it is more about the personal effort, interest and enthusiasm of students. Secondary schooling can broadly be said to possess three main channels of educational curriculum: classwork, homework and housework.

Classroom Learning
The teachers, unlike at the primary level, are subject specialists in secondary schools. There are separate teachers for Mathematics, Sciences and Social Studies. Classroom explanation through the teacher serves as the basis for the learning of the child, without which it will be a futile exercise for a secondary school student.

Classroom learning also involves practical classes in subjects like Physics, Chemistry and Biology. This reinforces the theory studied in the book and the students are endowed with greater conviction about the truth they study in the textbook. In Social Studies too, visits to historical places, public buildings and institutions help in understanding history, geography and polity better.

Divergent views have been expressed by many on the need, quantum, relevance and efficacy of homework as a part of learning that a child at the secondary school level should carry daily. The basic aim of the ‘homework’ is to reinforce and concretise the classroom work the child already is introduced to. Unfortunately, this essential purpose of homework is overlooked and “assignments” not related to the classwork are assigned to children only to keep them engaged in some activity at home.

It is well known that homework many a time turns out to be the work for the parents. The deadlines become such nightmares for students that they get frustrated, stressed, and as a few recent studies have pointed out, children tend to develop behavioural problems.

To overcome the problems of perennial homework, in recent times, technology has come in handy. Any assignment given by teachers has a solution in Google Search and students even in remote village schools are adept at making use of smartphones to do the daily dose of homework. Instant messaging, photostat making, forwarding solved formulas and sharing answers among friends etc have made homework easy, quick and efficient. Parents are happy as they are now a relieved lot. Those who have no access to smartphones and the internet are the ones who face the wrath of the teachers when they fail to do homework. The secret of doing regular homework is pasting from Google without any mental effort on the part of students.

The most contentious but generally overlooked and unrecognised task that secondary school-level students directly or indirectly engage on a daily basis is the housework. They have some obligation to attend to as a responsible growing member of the family. While in affluent families, servants may be assigned every chore, children in middle and lower-middle-class families have several odd tasks to perform on a daily basis. Starting with getting a milk packet from the nearby kiosk to dropping a guest at the bus stop, several such works are generally the duties of a schoolgoing lad. Similarly, girls are expected to help in the kitchen.

However, for children in the villages and remote rural areas, the housework they generally attend to is more intense and has a strong bearing on the family avocation. For the children in the agricultural families, for example, numerous responsibilities get lined up on each single day. It is an unwritten rule that boys and girls in the family have to clean the cowshed, feed the cattle, take them out to graze and attend to the small but constant regular tasks connected to agriculture, horticulture or animal husbandry. Similar is the case with the families of artisans, businessmen or farm hands.

The housework for an urban child as well as a rural ward though vastly varies in nature, the fact remains that the task does exist and due credit is to be given for the discharge of this task. These household works in a way equip them with practical knowledge leading to skill development in those avocations. While the project work of students, done from the readily available ‘Google’, carries a considerable credit in the evaluation of their performance, it is strange that the time, energy and interest invested in the housework by the young students go unrecognised.
In short, the housework that a student does should also be given due academic credit as it also imparts skill development that forms part of the learning process.

Educational experts and planners who gloat about the features of the New Educational Policy (NEP) should give a thought to the nature of the numerous tasks like the classwork, homework and housework that an average secondary schoolgoing student is expected to perform and due credit should be assigned to all such tasks, with a balance. The performance of the children in academics should be assessed on such multi-tasking methods and not merely on the type of answers dished out at the year-end board examinations.

Kss Seshan

(The writer is a retired Professor of history, University of Hyderabad)



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