Thanks to Instapundit we get the story of the latest proposal for educational reform in France where schooling has been on a very high standard until now, despite much of it being run by the state. There is a link to an article on the subject in the Wall Street Journal: "France to Ban Homework. Really".
François Hollande has a bold new plan to tackle social injustice and inequality in France: ban homework. Introducing his proposals for education reform last week at the Sorbonne, the French president declared that work "must be done in the [school] facility rather than in the home if we want to support the children and re-establish equality."
Banning out-of-school assignments would put France on the cutting edge of pedagogical fashion, though it wouldn't be entirely unprecedented. An elementary school in Maryland recently replaced homework with a standing order for 30 minutes a day of after-school reading. A German high school is also test-running a new homework ban, after an earlier reform lengthened the school day and crowded out time for extra-curriculars such as sports or music.Actually, banning homework is far from cutting edge. That was tried in Britain, certainly for younger children for many years, the argument being exactly the one the French President is using: it is not fair as some children might get help from parents and some might not. The result, as we know, was that generations of children grew up with large sections of them being barely literate or numerate, let alone capable of learning anything more complicated than the three Rs.
Furthermore, it became obvious that with no homework required by the school inequality became even more pronounced as it was now only those children whose parents could and would devote time and energy to educating their offspring who prospered. To some extent, I am glad to say, this practice is now being abandoned across the country but school requirements remain lamentably low.
The article is right in pointing out that substituting more activity at school for homework is not the same as deciding not to have any of either. But then, M. Hollande looks to other matters: school, he pronounced at the Sorbonne, is where the child becomes a citizen of the future. What he would really like, I suppose, is to take the children away from their parents completely and to have them brought up entirely by the state.
This, one can argue, is excellent news for Britain. At least, our undereducated children will no longer have to compete with the French. But, I suspect, the rejoicing (if there is any) will be short-lived. French parents care far more about these matters than, I am sad to say, most British ones do. They will be out in force, demonstrating against government proposals to destroy the French school system.