Rigours of regular homework are essential for young minds

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From: Jennifer Hunter, Farfield Avenue, Knaresborough.

I FOUND Jim Pike’s letter about homework (Yorkshire Post, 14 March) as well as Jayne Dowle’s opinion (Yorkshire Post, March 8) particularly thought-provoking.

As a young person, I was subjected to the dreadful rigour of having to complete and submit homework from the age of seven until I left school at the age of 18.

At junior school, I was obliged to undertake mathematics and English tasks after school every evening, as well as learning spellings and meanings of words.

To add insult to injury, every Friday my class members and I endured a lengthy spelling test and our results were read out by the teacher to the whole class. I managed to survive this form of psychological trauma and have lived to fight another day.

Homework became, quite simply, a part of my everyday routine from a very young age. I often accomplished my prescribed tasks with the fervour and zeal of clearing the table, doing the washing up, drying the pots and putting them away in cupboards.

I did not waste time pontificating or arguing about whether or not I should fulfil my daily obligations. I assumed my personal responsibilities, irrespective of academic or practical content.

During my youth, I was encouraged to demonstrate self-discipline and doing my homework was merely one aspect of that.

I am by no means old – I am still in my forties, but during my school days I had no computer, mobile phone or other technological accessory to amuse or assist me. Calculators were rare commodities and frowned upon in school because they encouraged laziness. In fact, the most exciting piece of equipment in my pencil case was, perhaps, a compass, and I can only imagine that an old-fashioned table of logarithms would frighten the life out of many of today’s GCSE candidates. One of the reasons why I do not possess a sat nav in my car is because I can read maps and enjoy working routes out for myself. Ordnance Survey maps provide even more entertainment and the fun of an exercise often lies in the challenge.

Perhaps I am prone to exaggeration, but I have noticed that any activity which contains the word ‘work’ or demands self-application appears to have become repugnant or repellent to very many people.

If people are, for example, members of a working group, this group expects people, quite simply, to execute a variety of tasks individually and collectively. Independent input, thought and decision-making are essential constituents and often lead to beneficial results.

The individual is benefited by becoming more self-reliant which leads to increased self-esteem as well as more effective support of others.

If people are given the opportunity to perform tasks and encouraged to organise themselves and work independently (and homework appeared to provide this opportunity when I was young), the ability of that person in a particular subject or field can be more easily assessed.

If homework was abolished, I dread to think what would take its place.

Instead of being encouraged to savour the day’s academic (or other) delights, I can imagine that television programmes and computer games would fill the void.