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The Homework Revolution This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

A young girl sits at her desk, reviewing her homework assignments for the evening. English: read three chapters and write a journal response. Math: complete 30 problems, showing all work. Science: do a worksheet, front and back. French: study vocabulary for tomorrow's test. It's going to be a long night.

This describes a typical weeknight for students across the country. Now is the time to start a homework revolution.

Do students in the United States receive too much homework? According to guidelines endorsed by the National Education Association (NEA), a student should be assigned no more than 10 minutes per grade level per night. For example, a first grader should only have 10 minutes of homework, a second grader, 20 minutes, and so on. This means that a student in my grade – seventh – should have no more than 70 minutes of work each night. Yet this is often doubled, sometimes even tripled!

There are negatives to overloading students. Have you ever heard of a child getting sick because of homework? According to William Crain, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at City College of New York and the author of Reclaiming Childhood, “Kids are developing more school-related stomachaches, headaches, sleep problems, and depression than ever before.” The average student is glued to his or her desk for almost seven hours a day. Add two to four hours of homework each night, and they are working a 45- to 55-hour week!

In addition, a student who receives excessive homework “will miss out on active playtime, essential for learning social skills, proper brain development, and warding off childhood obesity,” according to Harris Cooper, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.

Everybody knows that teachers are the ones who assign homework, but they do not deserve all the blame. “Many teachers are under greater pressure than ever before,” says Kylene Beers, president of the National Council for Teachers of English and the author of When Kids Can't Read What Teachers Can Do. “Some of it comes from parents, some from the administration and the desire for high scores on standardized tests.” Teachers who are under pressure feel the need to assign more homework. But why aren't teachers aware of the NEA homework recommendations? Many have never heard of them, have never taken a course about good versus bad homework, how much to give, and the research behind it. And many colleges of education do not offer specific training in homework. Teachers are just winging it.

Although some teachers and parents believe that assigning a lot of homework is beneficial, a Duke University review of a number of studies found almost no correlation between homework and long-term achievements in elementary school and only a moderate correlation in middle school. “More is not better,” concluded Cooper, who conducted the review.

Is homework really necessary? Most teachers assign homework as a drill to improve memorization of material. While drills and repetitive exercises have their place in schools, homework may not be that place. If a student does a math worksheet with 50 problems but completes them incorrectly, he will likely fail the test. According to the U.S. Department of Education, most math teachers can tell after checking five algebraic equations whether a student understood the necessary concepts. Practicing dozens of homework problems incorrectly only cements the wrong method.

Some teachers believe that assigning more homework will help improve standardized test scores. However, in countries like the Czech Republic, Japan, and Denmark, which have higher-scoring students, teachers give little homework. The United States is among the most homework-intensive countries in the world for seventh and eighth grade, so more homework clearly does not mean a higher test score.

Some people argue that homework toughens kids up for high school, college, and the workforce. Too much homework is sapping students' strength, curiosity, and most importantly, their love of learning. Is that really what teachers and parents want?

If schools assign less homework, it would benefit teachers, parents, and students alike. Teachers who assign large amounts of homework are often unable to do more than spot-check answers. This means that many errors are missed. Teachers who assign less homework will be able to check it thoroughly. In addition, it allows a teacher time to focus on more important things. “I had more time for planning when I wasn't grading thousands of problems a night,” says math teacher Joel Wazac at a middle school in Missouri. “And when a student didn't understand something, instead of a parent trying to puzzle it out, I was there to help them.” The result of assigning fewer math problems: grades went up and the school's standardized math scores are the highest they've ever been. A student who is assigned less homework will live a healthy and happy life. The family can look forward to stress-free, carefree nights and, finally, the teachers can too.

Some schools are already taking steps to improve the issue. For example, Mason-Rice Elementary School in Newton, Massachusetts, has limited homework, keeping to the “10 minute rule.” Raymond Park Middle School in Indianapolis has written a policy instructing teachers to “assign homework only when you feel the assignment is valuable.” The policy also states, “A night off is better than homework which serves no worthwhile purpose.” Others, such as Oak Knoll Elementary School in Menlo Park, California, have considered eliminating homework altogether. If these schools can do it, why can't everyone?

So, my fellow Americans, it's time to stop the insanity. It's time to start a homework revolution.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 810 comments. Post your own now!

jerome said...
today at 8:16 am
I feel like home is great, due to the fact that it teaches kids and teens to be more responsible. Yet it's stressfull it teaches kids how to cope with it in real life. In reality people have to learn to do things that they don't like, and Home work teaches kids more about the subject that they cannot learn in a class. So in general HW is a good thing in the end.
 
Keyla said...
Feb. 6 at 12:11 pm
I think that teachers should give less homework and have smaller classes to help students understand things better.
 
SSplox said...
Feb. 6 at 12:10 pm
I'm in the middle. I agree that too much homework is definitely not good. But i think the author does exaggerate how much homework a student does get a night. So small homework to jog you memory is good, but too much is bad.
 
homeworker replied...
Feb. 17 at 1:35 am
I felt the need to reply to this, because I am a high school student and I have 4 to 6 hours of homework each night. I think a moderate stance is good, but they are definitely not exaggerating.
 
Sophiab2356 said...
Feb. 6 at 12:10 pm
I think that this essay depends on the school. I also find some of the facts questionable.
 
Bob the Builder said...
Feb. 6 at 12:10 pm
I always have homework every night. Sometimes I rarely sleep but I still do my homework I think that we should have less homework.
 
uwotm8 said...
Feb. 6 at 12:08 pm
I disagree with the author; I feel that she is harshly exaggerating regular homework patterns for American students. Although she uses factual evidence and experts, some of the information is biased (i.e. in Japan there is less HW... but there is a lot more school hours). I am in most advanced classes in the 8th grade and I get about an hour of homework a night, and it is not very difficult to just put some effort. Honestly, I think some students are just too lazy to do their homework.
 
Chance said...
Feb. 6 at 12:07 pm
I usually dont have that much homework but when i do i have a history packet that takes a few hours but i can agree with her on some points even tough she didnt state why Japan has little to no homework
 
catsinbikinies said...
Feb. 6 at 12:07 pm
to much hw, need no hw
 
Estephany said...
Feb. 6 at 12:07 pm
I think your essay is really good i think you get the point and you ave everything that is needed in a argument essay i also think that we get to much homework for our grade.
 
nick said...
Feb. 6 at 12:07 pm
I agree this kid named nate
 
tu madre said...
Feb. 6 at 12:06 pm
I agree that homework should be limited.
 
pbduren said...
Feb. 6 at 12:06 pm
I disagree with the author. She is overlooking many key points, like the validity of independent research.
 
Anonymous said...
Feb. 6 at 12:06 pm
I think the author was sort of one sided, doesn't give any insight of the other side of the argument.
 
thebigD said...
Feb. 6 at 12:05 pm
this is a good article. i like it alot
 
catsinbikinies said...
Feb. 6 at 12:05 pm
i think we should ahve homework to get our selves ready
 
iluvcloudwatching123 said...
Feb. 6 at 12:04 pm
This article presents enough support to make it evident that either the cutback or elimination of homework is beneficial for the student, teacher, and parents.
 
dora_was_here said...
Feb. 6 at 12:03 pm
I think homework is bad because i don't know
 
Nate said...
Feb. 6 at 12:03 pm
There should be no homework
 
Kai S. said...
Feb. 6 at 12:02 pm
I agree with this but like Nick said this does not apply to everyone.
 
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