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Homework on Trial

Davis, A.J.



M. Papastephanou


This paper explores some of the assumptions underlying people’s strong opinions about compulsory school homework. The issues are complex, and it argues that, for the most part, definitive arguments favouring either side are unavailable. However, it does contend that equality arguments against homework such as those favoured by the French President are unsustainable. Moreover, it raises some questions about homework on which teachers rely when making short-term decisions about lessons in school. Such approaches to setting homework are widespread in the developed world at the present time. Support for homework based on instrumental conceptions of education sometimes seem to assume such visions without making them explicit, and certainly without explaining why they should be the only consideration when making decisions about children’s time out of school. I try to show that even where homework has demonstrable educational worth in one or more senses, this must always be weighed against other values. I pick one of the latter for special attention here, devoting particular attention to the possibility of families preparing their offspring for a life that includes a crucial element of ‘play’.


Davis, A. (2014). Homework on Trial. In M. Papastephanou (Ed.), Philosophical perspectives on compulsory education (157-169). Springer Verlag.

Publication Date Nov 30, 2014
Deposit Date Nov 18, 2013
Publisher Springer Verlag
Pages 157-169
Book Title Philosophical perspectives on compulsory education.