In the long-running philosophical debate between educational progressives and “traditionalists” (humanists, that is), it is usually fairly easy to predict what sort of attitude the two sides will have towards certain issues in education. The humanists will generally stress the importance of individual subject knowledge, the progressives will tend to advocate the development of generic skills. The humanists prefer direct instruction, the progressives embrace different forms of constructivism. And so on and so fifth, in the immortal words of Victor Borge.
Yet one issue which seems to produce some movement across the floor of the chamber, so to speak, is that of homework. I firmly place myself on the humanist side of the divide, and yet I have found that many humanists share my distaste for homework quotas as a school-wide policy.
The source of my scepticism is more pragmatic than theoretical. The necessity to set homework even in circumstances…
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