Should homework be scrapped?


Sir, – Aine McMahon (“Should homework be scrapped for primary school?”, Education, January 23rd) quotes Dr David Carey as doubting the value of homework, at least at primary school.

However, his conclusion – seemingly arrived at as a psychologist rather than as a teacher – that it should be scrapped since it displaces play is much too absolute. Should not time be found for both homework and play?

Besides, he overlooks the developmental and habit-forming contributions of homework in helping to build the foundations of formal, independent learning, and giving the child essential habits which, if not acquired now, will be much harder to inculcate later. Homework ought to be a partnership between home and school, parents and teachers, in discharging their joint responsibility, while also providing important external validation for school learning in the child’s experience. Parents may not be so much “hard-wired” to favour homework as convinced of its importance.

Finally, if children today do not spend a minimum time on homework, will that time, as Dr Carey is quoted as suggesting, really be spent in playing in the open air? It is far more likely that it will be spent on their iPhone or its equivalent – now found to occupy up to 10 hours daily for many. – Yours, etc,


(Emeritus Professor

of Education, UCD),


Co Dublin.