No More Homework | God's World News

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No More Homework

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    Ola Kozak sits at the table where she used to do homework at her home in Warsaw, Poland. (AP/Czarek Sokolowski)
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    Poland’s Education Minister Barbara Nowacka announces the new homework restrictions. (AP/ Czarek Sokolowski)
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It sounds like a daydream. But in Poland, it’s the law. The Polish government has banned required homework for grades eight and under.

Teachers can no longer assign mandatory homework in grades one through three. For grades four to eight, homework may be given, but it must be optional. It can’t count toward a grade.

“I am happy,” says fifth-grader Ola Kozak. The 11-year-old loves music and drawing. She hopes the homework ban will give her more time for these hobbies.

Many people have criticized Poland’s education system for emphasizing memorization and busywork. They want schools to focus instead on critical thinking and creativity.

During last year’s parliamentary elections, a 14-year-old boy spoke out at a campaign rally. He told Donald Tusk (now Prime Minister of Poland) that children “had no time to rest.” Instead, they waded through mountains of homework on the weekends and faced tests on Mondays.

Some officials agreed with this cry for relief. Education Minister Barbara Nowacka researched children’s mental health. She believes that Polish kids face an unhealthy number of stressful pressures. “The one that could be removed fastest was the burden of homework,” she says.

Ola’s parents disagree about the homework ban. Her father approves of it. “If there is something that will make students enjoy school more, then it will probably be good both for the students and for the school,” he says. But Ola’s mother remains skeptical. She believes homework helps kids learn what’s taught at school.

Ola’s brother Julian is a third grader. He says he sees both sides.

Over the years, the Polish government has meddled with the education system a number of times. Many educators have left their jobs due to low pay and a lack of supplies.

Sławomir Broniarz heads the Polish Teachers’ Union. He agrees with the need to ease the burden on students, but he feels the government ignored teachers when making the new law. “In general, the teachers think that this happened too quickly, too hastily,” he says.

Across the globe, governments have debated the proper amount of homework. South Korea set homework limits for elementary schools in 2017. In the United States, teachers’ union guidelines recommend about 10 minutes of homework per grade.

Will Poland’s new rule give kids space to grow and learn? Or will it mean more kids fall behind in school?

God gives His people a healthy balance of work and rest. He decreed the Sabbath as a break from the ordinary toils of life. Too much homework can make it hard to keep that balance. But does a homework ban tip the scales too far the other way?

Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. — Exodus 20:9-10