Homework in Primary School: Could It Be Made More Child-Friendly?

Kjersti Lien Holte


Homework plays a crucial role in the childhood environment. Teachers argue that homework is important for learning both school subjects and a good work ethic. Hattie (2013, p.39) references 116 studies from around the world which show that homework has almost no effect on children’s learning at primary school. Some studies have also found little effect on the development of a good work ethic or that homework may be counterproductive as children develop strategies to get away with doing as little as possible, experience physical and emotional fatigue, and lose interest in school (Cooper, 1989; Klette, 2007; Kohn, 2010). The present article argues that the practice of homework in Norwegian primary schools potentially threatens the quality of childhood, using Befring’s (2012) five indicators of quality. These indicators are: (1) good and close relationships, (2) appreciation of diversity and variety, (3) development of interest and an optimistic future outlook, (4) caution with regards to risks, and (5) measures to counteract the reproduction of social differences. The analysis builds on empirical data from in-depth interviews with 37 teachers and document analysis of 107 weekly plans from 15 different schools. The results show that the practice of homework potentially threatens the quality of childhood in all five indicators. The findings suggest that there is a need for teachers to rethink the practice of homework in primary schools to protect the value and quality of childhood.

Klíčová slova

homework, work–life balance, children’s perspectives, quality indicators of childhood, work ethic


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