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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 785 comments. Post your own!

Olivia7 said...
Dec. 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm:
Wow, I couldn't have said it better! That is truly an amazing article that really speaks for many middle schoolers. I'm in 8th grade and get straight A's. The only problem: I'm so darn slow! Yes, I understand all the concepts, I'm just such a perfectionist that it takes me hours just to get my work done! Playtime is essential for development as is sleep. I often go to bed from 11-12! Thank you for this great article and for all those mind- blowing facts.
 
Crash. replied...
Dec. 7, 2010 at 6:58 pm :
This really good, my best grade in school is math, why not bc Im good at but bc our teacher never gives homework and feels it is stupid. 
 
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jimmydane34 said...
Dec. 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm:
i believe homework isnt as necesseary as people make it out to be. my major problem in school is doing homework assignments because of the boring same repetive non challenging work i recieve to do at home. i get A's in all test but end up getting a C even D because of homeowork. english we rarely do homeowrk evolving our thinking skills such as opinion essays.  teens especially in highschool should just take responsibility for themselves. assign less homework. if a student really pays atten... (more »)
 
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Scorpion said...
Dec. 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm:
This is a good persuasive writing all about the growing homework problem. 
 
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unicycleprogirl said...
Dec. 2, 2010 at 5:44 pm:
This article really expressed both sides of the issue.  Very informative.
 
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bigfatfaceflat face said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 12:22 pm:
wafflez got that pineapple head going  on and iownyourfat donkey sucks at black ops and mw2 gf kidss
 
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iownurfatnoobdonkey said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm:
no ur donkey is a big lake milk fat noob so put that on ur bio and add me so i can kill u in black ops and mw2 noob ur fat donkey cant beat me noob so get a life noob
 
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wafflez said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 11:29 am:
your donkey is big lake waffle milk man garbage noob fat
 
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Jakethesnake said...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 3:46 pm:

Not only do I agree with the subject, I really love how this is written. Youve done your research and have somehow  made yourself an excellent writer. 

However, I must agree with PenguinFeet down there, well at least partially. Teachers assign homework for a reason, and that is to make sure we drill it into our heads so that we do well on our tests. I never did HW until recently. So sure, I was getting all the exorcise I needed, but I, until recently, I was failing ... (more »)

 
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WindDancer said...
Nov. 26, 2010 at 1:12 pm:

I totally agree with this article! I feel like homework doesn't really help, and teachers should stop wasting as much time in class and actually teach and let us practice. But hey, that's just me.

Good job witht this article!

 
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PenguinFeet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 21, 2010 at 2:12 pm:

While I hate doing homework...

I don't think I'd remember any of the stuff I did in school if I didn't do homework to go with it. And if every class in high school only assigns 30 minutes of meaningful homework, that's still 3+ hours. Doing 3 problems involving the Taylor series already takes at least 20 minutes, and three problems is not enough to cement it in my brain. This takes math homework to about 40 minutes. And English class--how are we supposed to learn to write an essay if w... (more »)

 
violinistforlife replied...
Dec. 7, 2010 at 1:03 pm :
I would have to agree.  As annoying as homework is, I don't know if I could learn as much without it.  And as a high schooler taking college classes, I can honestly say that high school homework is nothing compared to college homework, because the majority of the work in college must be done outside of class.
 
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Ainse said...
Nov. 15, 2010 at 11:12 pm:

I completley agree!  I get so much unnecessary homework at school. In addition I have to say that teachers also encourage out of school activities but wonder why no one joins them.  I personally think that kids don't want to get an overwhelming work load considering they get so much homework already.

Great article!

 
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Maddyandsnoopy said...
Nov. 15, 2010 at 10:46 pm:

I completely agree! This was extremely well written, too. On top of having a ton of homework, a lot of us are really busy. For example, here was my schedule today:

8-1-- school (minimum day)

1-3:30-- extra credit movie for AP World History

4-5-- time with math tutor

6-8-- mock trial practice

On top of all this, I have an essay due tomorrow. Don't worry though- coming on TeenInk was my reward for finishing. This is all super stressful, though!

 
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Lexi-pex said...
Nov. 15, 2010 at 2:29 pm:
this is really persuasive, well done! i don't think there's one teen out there that doesn't relate to this problem. i've just finished my GCSEs now, so the homework load has decreased, but all the coursework!!!!!!!!!!
 
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schlage said...
Nov. 11, 2010 at 3:31 pm:
This article was very well written and I completely agree. These days if a teacher doesn't have time to finish up the class, it automatically becomes homework. They are turning what should be a simple review of the days work into and extended schoolday.
 
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FunFace said...
Oct. 31, 2010 at 3:03 pm:

I completely agree i spend hours on homework which doesn't do anyhting to help me.  I understand the reason for some asignments such as working on an essay.  Even that shouldn't be given and due the next day, it won't help me in any way to do a whole essay in one day!!!

Great peice i like how you didn't just say you don't like homework but came up for valid reasons for change.

 
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elusiveroyalty said...
Oct. 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm:
I totally agree with you.  Right now I'm taking a rather frowned-upon and provocative approach to my views on homework and testing (refusing to do either), and this sums up my views nicely.  I think showing my teachers and parents your piece of writing will further their understanding of why it is I'm doing what I'm doing.
 
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mary said...
Oct. 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm:
I honestly believe that teachers do assign to much homework. I already spend 9 almost 10 hours at school (school from 7:40-3:35 then drill team practice from 3:35-5:00, if not later), then it takes me an hour to get home, where i have to do all my homework, which is alot, for example, today i have U.S history work, over 100 spanish vocab to memorize by thursday, and 3 page essay over the Salem witch trials, a lab report for chemisrty, and a 6 page (front and back) packet to do in math, and all ... (more »)
 
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DaydreamBeliever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 24, 2010 at 9:57 pm:
my best friend got shingles from stress. she does lots of lunh time and extracurricular stuff and it and the homework just wore her out.
 
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