French President Promises to Ban Homework as Part of Educational Initiatives
October 16, 2012
If he manages to push his latest proposals through, French President François Hollande may find himself with a few more young supporters on his side.
Last week, Hollande reaffirmed his pledge to make education one of his main domestic priorities by outlining key strategic changes to revitalize France's school system. It's a sweeping package of changes meant to reform a system critics claim is outdated and inefficient, but for headline writers it boils down to one concept: the French President wants to outlaw homework. "Work should be done at school, rather than at home," Hollande emphasized on Wednesday.
He also proposes reducing the average amount of time a student spends in class in each day, while stretching the school week from four days to four and a half. It's a bid to bring the country more in line with international standards and to acknowledge some of the current system's shortcomings. Even the homework isn't just an empty populist gesture - it's meant to reflect the fact that many of the lowest-performing students lack a positive support environment at home.
According to the Associated Press, French students endure some of the longest school days within developed nations:
Despite long summer breaks and the four-day school week, French elementary school students actually spend more hours per year in school than average - 847, compared with 774 among countries in OECD, a club of wealthy nations. But the time is compressed into fewer days each year. The French school day begins around 8:30 [a.m.] and ends at 4:30 p.m., even for the youngest, despite studies showing the ability of young children to learn deteriorates as the day goes on.
However, Hollande's proposal faces a few challenges of its own: parents would...