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Parents and teachers launch Easter homework boycott
PARENTS across Spain have called for a 'homework-free Easter' for their children in the latest step of the ongoing debate about how advisable or otherwise it is for kids to spend their free time in front of their schoolbooks.
The Spanish PTA Confederation (CEAPA), which has around 11,000 members nationwide, already staged a 'homework strike' in 2016 in which mums and dads wrote to teachers to tell them their children would not be undertaking any work at weekends, but instead would be spending quality time with their families, in the fresh air and taking part in physical activity.
CEAPA members also raised a petition calling for homework to be axed altogether, or at least over weekends and school holidays.
Even primary school children in very early years have homework every night, and the average pupil in Spain is glued to his or her textbooks for around two to three hours once home from class.
For most primary school children, lessons end at 17.00, meaning it can be as late as 21.00 at night before they have finished ther homework.
Parents and a majority of teachers partly blame the education reform brought in by former schools minister José Ignacio Wert, which has been mostly unpopular since its introduction as it is considered too right-wing, facts-and-figures-based, relying on learning by rote at the expense of critical thinking and creativity, valuing exam grades above qualitative factors, focusing purely on bookwork rather than the social and life skills children need to be taught as they grow, and 'weeding out' the academically-weak at a very young age, potentially excluding late bloomers from promising careers in the future.
According to mums and dads, since the reform, known as the LOMCE, was introduced, children spend more time on homework than ever before, which they consider a sign that the learning they undertake in the classroom 'is not meeting their educational needs'.
Citing various figures, the CEAPA says there is no positive correlation between time spent on homework and academic success – rather, in some cases, a negative relationship, since children who spend all their free time working become 'burnt out' and achieve worse results.
They also consider that schools are 'passing the buck' too much to children, giving them more and more homework to compensate for less learning in the classroom.
“Homework, far from encouraging a child's all-round development, form part of a damaging legacy of an obsolete method of education based upon memorisation and repetition of content,” the CEAPA states.
“It also creates tension between parents and their children, since it leads to problems with family unity – adults do not have time to supervise such extensive amounts of work outside of school, and children and parents do not spend quality time together.
“Children need time to practise sports, arts, travel, and other activities both fun and restful, and which also contribute to their personal development.”
Yesterday (Monday) the CEAPA launched the Twitter hashtag #StopDeberes ('Stop Homework') to encourage everyone who thinks homework should be dramatically reduced or axed to give their reasons on the social media site and turn it into a trending topic.
Their first step in the campaign is to call for schools not to set homework over the Easter holidays, so children can spend those two weeks relaxing, having fun, enjoying their family and friends, and indirectly learning and developing through healthy pastimes.
The CEAPA also believes the excess of homework is doing nothing to alleviate the growing concerns about childhood obesity, since kids are forced to spend more time sitting down by default rather than practising physical activity.
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