When you picture a country well-known for churning out excellent students year after year, the last thing you imagine is that they never do any homework. In addition, it is probably assumed they attend classes for a greater number of days throughout the year than those who test poorly on exams. However, all around the globe, this has proven time and again to be the opposite case.
Finland is a perfect example of a system the has found the winning formula for education. They have a system that works mostly on trust. Parents trust that educators will teach their children enough throughout the school day. In turn, family time is spent relaxing. In addition, the school days are shorter, vacations are longer, and the total homework time is under 3 hours per week.
In America, the closest thing we have to this philosophy is the legacy of Maria Montessori. She created a child-centered educational approach that was based on scientific observations of children. She believed that learning starts at childbirth and continues on to adulthood. In her opinion, education’s job was to prepare children for all aspects of their lives. School was not meant to be an exam-taking machine or a vessel for rote memorization. She believed that children are cera molle, or soft wax, and it was up to them to do the majority of their own shaping. Educators and parents are there as invisible guides to support and assist, but the shaping and molding of a child’s true sense of self needed to come from them. All of the tools in a Montessori school are sensorial and designed for self-exploration. In addition, children who attend a Montessori school not only have no homework but they are also encouraged outside of school to engage in what’s known as free play. Letting a child learn without adult distraction helps them to develop independence and satisfy their natural curiosity.
Japan also takes into account the concept of teaching skills outside of the classroom. In addition to very little homework, students are taught how to use modern-day resources like the internet to find answers to questions. Schools hand out approximately 3.8 hours of homework a week. In addition, there are non-academic skills that are taught as well. The students are in charge of keeping their school clean.