French President Francois Hollande has a new plan to fix economic inequality problems in his country: ban homework.
The move, designed to level the playing field between students who get help from their families at home and those who don’t, is just one piece of reforms proposed by Hollande. His other plans include lengthening the school week from four to four-and-a-half days and increasing the number of teachers.
“[Work] must be done in the the [school] facility rather than in the home if we want to support he children and re-establish equality,” Hollande said while laying out his plans at Paris’ Sorbonne University, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A poll shows that more than two-thirds of people oppose the idea, the Journal said, noting that similar experiments are being tried elsewhere:
Banning out-of-school assignments would put France on the cutting edge of pedagogical fashion, though it wouldn’t be entirely unprecedented. An elementary school in Maryland recently replaced homework with a standing order for 30 minutes a day of after-school reading. A German high school is also test-running a new homework ban, after an earlier reform lengthened the school day and crowded out time for extra-curriculars such as sports or music.
But the idea might not even be that revolutionary, as The Washington Post notes. Districts in the United States experimented with homework bans more than 100 years ago.
Early in the 1900s, the influential Ladies’ Home Journal magazine called homework “barbarous,” and school districts such as Los Angeles abolished it in kindergarten through eighth grade. In fact, some educators said it caused tuberculosis, nervous conditions and heart disease in the young and that children were better off playing outside. The American Child Health Association in the 1930s labeled homework and child labor as leading killers of children who contracted tuberculosis and heart disease.