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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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deepthi said...
today at 7:47 am:
A tight schedule of homework may spoil the child psychologically and physically.Firstly child has to play for certain hours after school in order to get relaxation and to keep them fit.Secondly, a chid has to sleep for more than 8 hrs a day to be mentally fit and for a stress free life.Finally the child has to allot certain time for its hobbies.But a tight schedule of homework does not give time for all the above activities.So surely a homework revolutin should be made for the welfare of the children
 
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The_TypewriterThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 10 at 7:36 pm:
If people are complaining about homework, I just have to wonder what they would say with my life. I have 5+ hours of homework every night, get home at 5 pm, and leave for school at 6:50 am. Then I rarely go to sleep before 1 am. Going to sleep at 11 pm is nearly impossible. And it is a "good" night if I'm asleep at midnight. This also excludes everything that a normal high schooler would want to do with their life: write, draw, participate in theatre productions, attend debate meet... (more »)
 
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ryansee12 said...
Dec. 17, 2013 at 5:21 pm:
I totally agree with what the author is trying to say i am a freshman at indian river charter high school in vero beach and i constantly have at least 2 hours of homework or more every night and my mom constantly asks me why i have so much homework and i ask my self the same question every night.
 
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Velezbianca23 said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:39 pm:
I agree.us student get to much homework for one night. Teachers don't even care how much hw we get for other classes. They just care about their subject.
 
ryansee12 replied...
Dec. 17, 2013 at 5:25 pm :
i totally agree i am a freshman at indian river charter high school in vero beach florida and teachers dont know about other subjects and other homework they onle care about their subject.
 
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nathana35 said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm:
Students shouldn't get homework everyday cause some people have other things to do. Also students shouldn't get no more than one hour of homework a night.
 
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Ms. P. said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm:
I agree that homework should not be assigned necessarily every day. Long-term assignments and projects seem to track students' progress better.
 
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EnriqueY59 said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm:
I don't agree with this article, I feel that students need to suck it up and get there homework done
 
hatehatters replied...
Nov. 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm :
EnriqueY59 is a total **** to say that
 
yoyo replied...
Dec. 8, 2013 at 10:21 pm :
I disagree with you. I think that students SHOULD be given a fair amount of homework to make sure they understand what's being taught in class and practice, but too much can be harmful and can interfere with a student's social life and growth.
 
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Bree said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm:
I think that some homework is okay because it helps you understand the work on your own. But too much homework is stressful and it's very difficult to do all the work in one night and do the other things you need to do like shower or eat or talk to your family. It gets stressful and too much work would drain students and then they just won't do the work at all.
 
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120312Ser said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm:
Why should teachers give out so much homework thinking that every night students will be able to finish their assignments given on time when they know they have other classes or give out multiple assignments I think that all teachers should give less homework
 
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sarahm15 said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm:
It is time for a homework revolution. Homework has become an activity that takes too much of students free time. I understand the need for homework. So I think it's important to do homework, but only an amount that won't make a student sick as mentioned in the article.
 
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Jaggerswagger said...
Mar. 31, 2013 at 3:40 pm:
ANARCHY!!! But seriously, make school days longer and eliminate homework altogether.
 
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Bifrost said...
Mar. 26, 2013 at 11:28 pm:
I agree entirely. I had barely any homework in 6th grade. But in 7th, I was lucky to get in bed by 11. I was doing constant homework from the time in got home at 3:30. (Unless you count the 30 min for dinner). But now I am in 8th grade. Under the same circumstances, I am now lucky if I get to bed by 1 am. I have always been a straight A student. But now I am struggling to keep my A. Geometry was my best subject at the begginning of the year. But now we have almost 60 problems every night for jus... (more »)
 
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ms._sosa said...
Mar. 25, 2013 at 11:23 am:
omg when i read this it was like i don't even have that much homework byt others schools do so i should appreciate what i got
 
oiejgpolpsdl replied...
Dec. 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm :
I used to be like you until I moved >_<. I used to have one homework assignment per week, but that was elementary school after all. Wish we could be forever young, eh? ;P
 
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ALennyThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Mar. 22, 2013 at 5:31 am:
Great writing, but once you hit yr 12 like me you'll be greatful that you were prepared for the long days. I average 6 hours of homework 6 hours of school and 4 hours of extracurricular activities a day, I'm glad that there was a gradual build up. Wonderful piece of work though.
 
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Luxy_ReeseThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 20, 2013 at 3:19 pm:
I guess I'm lucky.  I don't do much homework and only had two B's on my last report card.  But my little sister, 7th grade, is doing the IB program, and it's a load of crap.  All it is is more homework and sapping the life out of her.  She sits at that stupid table for hours after school, and on top of that, I get stuck doing her chores because she's doing homework!  We need this to be renforced at schools across the nation. 
 
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Artgirl1999This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 22, 2013 at 5:34 pm:
Great writing! I'm homeschooled, so all my schoolwork is homework. I'm in 7th grade too, and i do about four hours' worth of schoolwork every day. You guys do eight! This reminded me how glad I am that I'm homeschooled!!!
 
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