The Italian Minister of Education, Mr. Bussetti, takes the field with a circular that reignites the debate on homework!

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A recent note of the Italian Minister for Education, Mr. Marco Bussetti, invited the teachers to reduce Christmas homework in order to allow the children to have free time to spend with their parents. In a meeting with the Authority for Childooh, the Minister said: “I would like to make the teaching staff and the schools aware of the need for rest for students and families”. A statement that triggers and nurtures the opposition between those who welcome the note and those who accuse the dicastery of making youth more ignorant. Summer or Christmas homework are a real issue with struggle between favorable and contrary.

That also happens abroad. According to a 2012 OECD research, on average weekly homework load (without information related to holidays), the most overburdened are Russian students, with 9.7 hours a week of work to do at home, followed just from Italy, with 8.7 hours of average, the USA, with 6.1 hours. The most “advantaged” and light loaders are the Finns, with an average of about 2.8 hours of homework per week, who are also among the most talented for text comprehension and math, thus becoming an emblematic case of low work load and high results. There is South Korea, with just 2.9 hours a week, to be added about 15-20 hours of extracurricular activities (languages, math, coding).

Although the data are to be interpreted with extreme caution due to the low precision in measuring and to the increasing use of Internet for homework by youth, it is a very interesting picture. I had recently read on debate.org a question asking students if it was right to assign homework for the holidays and only 18% had answered yes. Apart from the unhappy question as it is like asking a barber if you need a haircut, the problem is widespread. Homework means time taken away from the game, the family, the carelessness. In addition, they also imply the need for a family able to support the student and to integrate the learning process, with the risk of creating social inequities. That is why in the more advanced countries, such as in Scandinavia, there is no homework, and the students only at school. The teachers have the exclusive responsibility for the learning process.

The homework issue comes together with other issues at school, such as the scoring voting system: it seems inconsistent to give a ranking based on a score as a learning process cannot be classified. Besides obvious motivational implications that are not always properly managed, the vote is a number or a letter completely empty of meaning and value. Learning is a constant and continuous process, based on the strong interaction of youth. If we want to make better use of their free time to educate them, then it makes much more sense to involve them in extracurricular activities such as music, drawing, sports, languages, coding, and above all activities that generate social impact. Future governmental or business leaders must above all be social leaders, because there is no economic growth without social development.

True education is experiential, not notions-based!

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