Why would France want to ban homework?
President Hollande has said that less homework means more equality. At home, income makes a difference. Higher income families have children with higher test scores and more help with homework. They have their own bedrooms, their own desk, their own computers, tutors and pressure. How to make all equal? Eliminate the home influence.
Interestingly, more equity does not necessarily mean a lower quality educational system. In The Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment published by Pearson, 39 countries and one region (Hong Kong) were ranked for successful educational outcomes. Finland, with its emphasis on the equity that France seeks, is ranked #1. In Finland, learning is idea and understanding based with almost no homework.
Using a totally different approach, South Korea was ranked #2. In South Korea, students do hours of work after school while in the classroom, teachers use a highly disciplined rote learning approach.
And yet, Finland and South Korea are actually not so different. With Finland valuing equity and South Korea, the hard work ethos, both had high-quality teachers, accountability and a moral mission. Ranked lower on the list, the UK was #6, the US, #17 and France, #25. The full list is below.
Who would have thought that a country’s homework philosophy can reflect its economic values?
Sources and Resources: This Louis Menand New Yorker article combined the Hollande proclamation, the Pearson report and a wonderful discussion of the implications. Elsewhere, articles looked at President Hollande’s announcement, here, and the Pearson report, here. And here, is a link to the report itself which I recommend reading. Finally, I especially enjoyed these 26 amazing facts about Finland’s education system from Businessinsider. It sounds like a wonderful recipe for success.
From the Pearson report: