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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 813 comments. Post your own now!

Aspiringauhor said...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm
I should be getting more than an hour of homework, but instead I get over three hours. Teachers need to ease up; you're right!
Lex2011 said...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 11:52 am
I agree with this completely. I'm in 9th grade and I take all honors classes. Now, I understand that I agreed to step up and do more work but sometimes "more" is a little too much. We sit in class for 40 minutes, listening to lecturing and writing notes and then we receive homework. Most of the time, the homework isn't even what we learned about, but we are expected to complete it. There's too much on our plates already what with school, homework, friends, and other activities. My mom tells me I... (more »)
skysurferfan said...
Mar. 18, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I definitely agree.  I also think we should take a look at what we are making our children learn and do.  For example, I remember throughout elementary school, having to alphabetize my spelling words.  What on earth does this help a child do?  Learn their alphabet?  If a third- or fourth-grader doesn't know their alphabet by that point, it's pretty much a lost cause.  I remember typing an assignment for English class on the computer, before our teacher told us it... (more »)

Jakob said...
Mar. 18, 2011 at 7:53 am

I agree with this totally!

I think that the school system doesn't think that most of the kids are maybe doing some kinds hobbies out side of the school.

So they just let us do a lot of homework, and then we can't do what we want to do.

Willful_Destruction said...
Mar. 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I love this article, and I totally agree with it! I am in seventh grade as well, and the homework has gotten out of control in my school. Sometimes I am up past 12:00 PM working, especially on nights when I have to stay after school, attend basketball practice, etc, etc. I love the idea of the "10 Minute Rule."

Fabulous article, really. The sources you provided and the research is amazing. =]

MadiBird said...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I don't believe you're in the seventh grade - you write way too well!

I love this article. Instead of most kids, who like making excuses to attempt to get out of homework, you actually did you research and came up with an amazing and valid argument.

Great job!

Kidlet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 7, 2011 at 9:24 am
This was very well written. Bravo. :)
33333333333 said...
Feb. 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm

i agree lets start a revolution


jenny2116 said...
Feb. 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm
i'm in the 7th grade, but i have algebra and earth and space they r both 9th grade classes and that's pretty hard. next year i take biology and geometry so it's a lot of work. i never have time to play and everytime a teacher gives hw to a student that gives me 30 min 4 each hw. i have 6 classes times 1 hw each is 3 hours. it usually takes me longer than that because i have hard classes. it's supposed to take me 70 min 4 hw like they said.
beach replied...
Mar. 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm
yes, and also if people are crammed with hw they need to drop some afterschool activities, i think that hw is part of learning. 
WeLiveForScars This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 21, 2011 at 11:59 am
At my school, the homework policy is that every teacher should assign 30 minutes of homework per subject, with the exception of my 2 hour class, that must be an hour long. That is a total of 3 hours. I am in the 9th grade, so according to the NEA, I should only receive 90. This is a real eye opener for me, I always believed my homework load was too hefty but I never knew the actual facts on this topic. Thank you for enlightening me.
danielle4 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm
Well, at my school, homework is never just busy work.... so maybe homework really depends on the school....
danielle4 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 13, 2011 at 9:29 am
I don't really know about this... I think that homework is necessary to improve the mind. In sports, the more hours you practice the better you are going to get. Therefore, the best students are the ones that study A LOT and are completely disciplined. At my school we are given EXCESSIVE amounts of homework. Juniors and seniors stay up until 3 am just to complete everything. I am a sophomore, and I routinely go to bed at 12:40 after I finish all my homework. While it certainly is tiresome, it pr... (more »)
aaliona replied...
Feb. 14, 2011 at 5:47 pm

While I agree that studying is important, too much homework misses the goal and excess studying can burn kids out. Students have a mindset that homework is just extra work and often times don't put anywhere near their full effort into it.

At my school, it's common to see students 9-12 alike copying or doing last-minute homework scrambles. They don't look at it as "help;" they look at it as a chore.

Homework for learning purposes is good. Homework that's just to fill the... (more »)

StarredCritic replied...
Feb. 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm


I believe that public education is a way to divert the radiance of a young mind, and program it to perform certain functions that would benefit the deranged society. Homework is unbelievably draining and redundant, but I think it's meant to be a distraction and prepare young individuals for a rountine, dull life of simply turning the wheels of the economy. I believe America isn't concerned with education - they're concerned about their wealth, and... (more »)

cloverturtle replied...
Mar. 1, 2011 at 9:38 pm

StarredCritic, I , too, am home schooled so I don't have much homework but I think that it is important. Regardless of how grueling it may be, the public education system is already lacking. They're only teaching the students enough to pass standardized tests, or at least that's how it was when I went to public school.  When I was in fourth grade, I had a teacher that assigned at least two hours of homework. We never complained because we were being taught. She wa... (more »)

WerewolfWriting said...
Feb. 11, 2011 at 8:26 pm
I agree. Kids have been saying this for years but this pieces so perfect because you had statistics. 5 stars!
i luv me tacos 237 said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm
yeah they should give less homework to us who's with me !!!!!!!!!!!!!
de man said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:11 am
I like the fact of the homewoke
super money said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:04 am
see me i go crazy everytime i get that math reading and spelling i feal like i want to do sucide they need to shortin it down!
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