More homework for Hong Kong students? Only if it is in physical education
- If students must get more homework, make it PE rather than lessons-based, to beat obesity and boost health
In Hong Kong, the fact that homework is excessively heavy is nothing new. We have reason to believe that it is causing harm to students.
According to the World Health Organisation, students aged 5 to 17 should have at least 60 minutes of exercise of per day to achieve good health. However, a local survey revealed that only around a fourth of Hong Kong students met this 60-minute exercise requirement. In addition, the obesity rate among secondary school students is rising, from around 17 per cent in 2007-08 to 20 per cent in 2016-17.
Even though physical activity would help prevent such weight gain and the resultant ill health, the fact is homework takes away the time needed to engage in daily exercise. Thus, instead of arguing for less homework, our suggestion is that there should be more homework but it should be in physical education. Physical exercise as a form of homework can encourage students to develop healthy habits and eventually positive well-being.
When teachers prescribe physical exercise as homework, students may choose to engage in sports activities they prefer, and teachers can use a daily log (perhaps, with the help of parents) to monitor the progress. Since the use of technology is so prevalent now, students could live-stream themselves exercising, making the monitoring of exercise homework manageable.
Stephanie Molloy, Isabella Wong and Jennifer Khan, students, CityU