Homework is something that most students despise, and that many teachers and parents tend to favor, although the reasoning on either side isn't altogether altruistic. Many people are beginning to see that homework is increasingly being used as a substitute for having to do much work while in the classroom. This is also leading many to criticize the idea of homework altogether, and there is an ever growing amount of people who now believe that homework should be abolished.
One of the main reasons that homework should be abolished is because it unfairly favors students from better backgrounds. A student who comes from a wealthy and stable background for example is always going to be able to concentrate better on their work than someone living with an alcoholic parent for example. Similarly a child with better resources is always going to be able to make a better science fair project, despite talent or knowledge of the subject.
Also in many high schools the emphasis seems to be on what the student does after class rather then what they are capable of in class. Extra credit assignments and after school clubs that look good on college applications are given more importance than actual schoolwork. Often a student is so preoccupied with extra credit homework assignments that their work in the classroom suffers as a result. This is of course counterproductive, and isn't a good pattern to follow in later life after graduation.
In some cases homework is given purely for the sake of it, rather than the fact that a child needs to know the particular material that is being given out. Often teachers are under pressure to follow a homework pattern that involves them having to give a certain amount per week to each class. However if all the subject matter is finished in class, then anything that they give the students is either needlessly repetitive or isn't needed at all for the assessments.
Particularly in lower grades, where the individual grade is determined by a teacher rather than by standardized testing, homework is often overvalued in order to make the teachers abilities look better. Children who might not do well in testing but that complete their homework can in this way attain grades comparable to those who might ace every test, but that don't always turn in their homework on time.
This is something of a misleading practice, as it inflates some students grades which will only really make them suffer in the long run. After all in the higher grades of education, when the teachers don't decide the grades of the students, the focus shifts entirely to standard testing. A child who might have gotten good grades in the past will often suddenly drop down a couple of grades. This in itself creates problems for the child as it may create the impression that they aren't working hard when they in fact are.
Homework is a good idea in theory, however in reality the process doesn't work quite as well as it should. As teachers have limited powers in terms of getting their students to behave and to complete all their work in the classroom, homework is being used more than ever as a substitute for what students should be learning in school time. This strategy is used by teachers who have limited skills and so are happy to let their students pick up the slack from what they are failing to teach in the classroom.
Having to spend every night doing homework and leaving less and less time for a student to relax and recuperate after a hard day of school is one of the reasons that students these days become so stressed. Having to work solidly without much of a break every day and having to revise further for exams as well can often make a student buckle under the pressure and fail exams. Without homework students could revise in their own time for exams, and wouldn't risk being burnt out so often.
Homework is often obstructive to a student getting a balanced and complete education, and often isn't helpful in the slightest. A better approach is to suggest that the students should study in their own time but not to try to force them by setting homework, The students that are motivated and that want to learn will study by themselves, and the ones that don't wont be holding the other students back.