Homework is now out of date

Schools are doing away with homework

With curriculum 21, homework has been greatly reduced for the new school year. The schools in Köniz have now practically completely abolished the Ufzgi. That doesn't suit the council at all.

The news should have caused cheers among many students in Köniz: They were recently informed that they no longer have their usual homework as of the new school year. Whether studying French vocabulary, solving arithmetic problems or practicing grammar - what was previously given to the children after work should be done in class and discussed with the teacher.

In their free time, the pupils only have to deal with school content, for example when it comes to getting handicraft material or to prepare in-depth for a long-term project work. Any further drumming at home is now voluntary.

The principals of the schools in Köniz introduced this new regulation in a joint and unanimous decision. Katrin Breuer, chairwoman of the Könizer school directors' conference and herself headmaster of the primary school Blindenmoos in Schliern, describes the decision as a paradigm shift.

"There is no longer any classic homework."

Katrin Breuer Chairwoman of the School Directors' Conference in Könizer

“There is no longer any classic homework,” she says. This not only reduces the burden for the students, but also for many parents who cannot support their children equally well. "If the tasks are integrated into the lesson, the individual abilities of the students can be better addressed."

Criticism of "quick shot"

With the Ufzgi waiver, the Könizer schools go one step further than the canton actually requires with curriculum 21. The latter came into force in the Bernese schools for the new school year. Because of the additional lessons, it provides less homework than before.

Specifically, this means: Up to the 2nd grade, the teachers are not allowed to give the children more than 30 minutes of homework per week (previously 90 minutes), the third to sixth graders a maximum of 45 minutes (previously 120 minutes) and the seventh to ninth graders 90 minutes (previously 180 minutes).

The fact that the schools in Köniz have reduced homework time to zero has sparked a dispute between the school and the authorities in the community. Of all things, the Köniz head of education, Hans-Peter Kohler (FDP), was not at all pleased by the headmaster's rushing forward and described their decision in the media shortly before the start of the new school year as a snap shot.

"It is a mistake to abolish homework before curriculum 21 is even in force," said the local council to Radio SRF. He thinks homework is important, as life for the children will also be competitive later - for example in vocational training or studies.

In Köniz, the discussions about the new homework model continue after school has started. "Because of this, there have been tensions," confirms Hans-Peter Kohler. He knows of individual headmasters and teachers "who do not have the same opinion on this matter".

The decision of the headmaster's conference and its supposedly hasty communication with teachers and parents apparently displeases the authorities so much that talks have now been called. "That has to be discussed now," said Kohler, who speaks of a "competence problem".

"Topic not completed"

Specifically, the question is who can actually make such a decision. "The school commission is of the opinion that it also has something to say," said Kohler, who presides over this school commission - the school's political and strategic management body. Kohler leaves it open whether the headmasters whistle back and the homework will be reintroduced at the end. He just says: "The subject is not closed."

However, if you ask the canton who may decide on such a new homework regulation, the answer seems clear. "The school management conference can do that," says Erwin Sommer, head of the cantonal elementary school office.

He refers to the provisions in curriculum 21. "It says that teachers can do without giving homework altogether." However, Sommer still considers the approach taken by the Köniz headmasters "not very sensitive," as he says. "It would have been ideal if they had brought the authorities on board."

Split opinions among parents

The parents of the Könizer students meanwhile have different views on the new regulation. The new model has led to good discussions, says Lukas Frösch, President of the Parents Council in Köniz. Apparently there are also fears. "Some parents fear that their children will have to serve as guinea pigs," says Frösch.

Parents' biggest concern is losing control of where their children are in school. The schools in Köniz want to counter this fear with so-called learning tracks - a kind of learning diary through which parents can gain insight and are regularly updated on developments.

In addition to skepticism, according to Frösch, there are also many parents who are positive about the abolition of homework. He too personally - himself a three-time father of school-age children - sees advantages above all. "I think it's good that there is compensation for the additional lessons."

Dispensing with homework also enables the time gained to be used more for learning instruments, for sport or social contacts. "This is of particular benefit to weaker students." They each had to sit longer on their homework and were therefore more likely to be disadvantaged in terms of social exchange.

Köniz is not an isolated case

School without homework - in Köniz the controversial model ventured on black ice and promptly sparked a debate. Schools, authorities and parents have different opinions about whether and how many Ufzgi are necessary. However, the canton's provisions in the context of curriculum 21 are clear: teachers no longer have to give students homework. This has actually been true for a long time.

"Already in the 95 curriculum, giving homework was optional," says Erwin Sommer, head of the primary school department. To his knowledge, however, only Köniz has interpreted the homework time so radically so far. However, it is now clear that Köniz is not an isolated case. In the city of Bern, the Breitenrain-Lorraine school district does not up to the 4th grade also on classic homework.

"We are now integrating them into the classroom," says Rita Holzer from the Spitalacker / Breitenrain school management. From the 5th grade onwards, the reduced homework times in curriculum 21 would apply. The new processes are still in the works. "The exchange of information with the parents is in full swing," says Holzer. In Ostermundigen there is the homework-free model also an issue. cha

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