Impact of Homework on Education and Wellbeing of Students in Italy and Europe

Culture - March 29, 2024

In Europe the average is 6.5 and there is a project to eliminate them

In the discussion on education and homework, Italy emerges as a significant case study, with data indicating an average of 11 hours per week for secondary students, significantly higher than the European average of 6.5 hours. This phenomenon raises interest and concern not only nationally, but also internationally, with a number of studies and projects aiming to understand the impact of homework on student learning and to outline new educational strategies. The analysis of data, including that collected by OECD-PISA in 2018, highlights how young Italians dedicate a significant amount of time to homework, especially in middle and secondary schools. This data, combined with the relatively low classification of the Italian education system according to the Pearson review, raises questions regarding the effectiveness and fairness of the system.

Compared with other European countries, is evident a variety of approaches, from reducing homework in countries such as Denmark, Finland and Sweden, to completely eliminating it in Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia and Denmark. Even France, despite having a significant presence of homework, is below the Italian average. Beyond Europe, countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Japan and the United Kingdom have less time spent on homework than Italy. There are several pedagogical reasons that support the reduction or elimination of homework. First of all, time spent at home should be dedicated to rest and relaxation, which is crucial for students’ overall development, and secondly, homework can exacerbate inequalities, as not all students have the resources or support needed to complete them effectively.

Eliminating homework could lead to greater equity in the education system, allowing students to spend more time at school engaging in hands-on, collaborative, and interactive activities. This approach promotes active learning and the acquisition of soft skills critical to success in the modern world. To successfully implement a homework reduction or elimination strategy, an investment in additional education resources is required, including well-trained teachers, modern teaching equipment, and adequate spaces for collaborative learning. Furthermore, it is important to actively involve students in the decision-making process regarding educational activities, encouraging them to participate in curriculum design.

The analysis of educational practices in countries such as Finland, Germany and Spain offer interesting ideas for a review of homework in Italy too. In Finland, for example, there is no strict regulation on homework, and the balance between schoolwork and students’ free time is strongly promoted. Finnish teachers encourage active learning and exploration, thus reducing reliance on homework. Even in Germany and Spain, there are regulations and guidelines regulating the amount and type of homework assigned, with an emphasis on the balance between schoolwork and students’ free time. The active approach of teachers and the involvement of parents are key elements in these contexts.

The European Union, although it does not have specific regulations on homework, promotes policies that indirectly influence educational practice, such as student mobility, the use of digital technologies and inclusion. Initiatives such as the European Education Monitor and the Europe 2020 Strategy provide a framework for improving the quality of education and promoting more active and inclusive learning. Analysing the impact of homework on students’ education and well-being requires a holistic approach and a common commitment to finding innovative and balanced solutions. The adoption of educational practices based on active and collaborative learning during school hours could help improve student well-being, reducing inequalities and better preparing them for the challenges of the future.The cultural quality of a nation requires modern and cutting-edge approaches on apparently insignificant issues such as homework, but which can prove fundamental in the European community panorama.