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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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ProfessorLaytonRox said...
Oct. 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm
I have sooo much hw these days! It sucks!
sunshine14 said...
Oct. 24, 2010 at 10:50 am

You have just put my thoughts into words. I just never knew how to say it. I'm a freshman in high school and all I have is homework after homework after homework. And I used to go running every day after school, but I'm doing my homework from 3-9 or 10. That's 6-7 hours! Plus I also have a study hall during the day, so add an extra hour.

I have so much due to the matter that I'm in multiple honors courses and these classes are extremely hard. I'm maintaning straight A's, but it's only ... (more »)

corruptionofdata This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 19, 2010 at 1:13 am
I go to school online and we don't have additional homework to the stuff we do in class. Yet, we're still learning as much information as the kids who do have it, and are retaining it. I think it's more important for kids to be well-rested and have time for jobs and extra-curricular activities than to have tons of homework each night. It really doesn't do any good at all!
sexy boi (alex) said...
Oct. 18, 2010 at 2:54 pm
As all students belive, there is no time to do 4 hours of work at home. We all have responsibilities that take up our time and efforts.
LLPK said...
Oct. 15, 2010 at 12:47 pm
“A night off is better than homework which serves no worthwhile purpose.”  I absolutely love this statement from a policy that has recently been employed by a school, as mentioned in the article.  I do not think it is right when teachers assign homework "just because."  All homework should be an extension of what is taught in class, and if it is done in class, so be it.  Homework should only be assigned when necessary, and of course, have meaningful... (more »)
Meghanv1218 said...
Oct. 12, 2010 at 12:33 pm
Sorry, My school starts at 6:45 in the morning. I accidently deleted the beggining of that sentence :)
Meghanv1218 said...
Oct. 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm
Sooooooo TRUE! My math teacher assigns us anywhere from 50-75 problems a night and we need to show all work, and show "check" work for each problem. My math homework takes me around and hour and a half to two hours a night, which is longer than our whole math class (1 hour and 10 min) My math techer doesn't have time to check it so we have to use what she always says is "valuable class time" checking homework together. Then because it takes so long we spend about 5 minutes learning the... (more »)
Teeten replied...
Jan. 10, 2011 at 10:22 am
Well this is crazy i cant imagine myself in this situation, even thou i get a lot of homework too, but not as alot as you. Anyway i think you all should take a big step and reported to the principal if nothings happens maybe the superintendent, for a change.
Pixie42 said...
Oct. 10, 2010 at 5:53 am
i love the article and completely agree i never really thought about it so much until now.
Pixie42 said...
Oct. 10, 2010 at 5:51 am
I really love this site.
Kelz1141This 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...
Oct. 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm
I totally agree with this article! I wish my English teacher would read this. She gave us an assignment to go to the University in my city and listen to the performance of a poet then write a specific paper on it. Everyone else there was a sophmore in collage and had the exact same assignment. I am a junior in highschool.
SportyZo77 said...
Oct. 2, 2010 at 1:05 pm
I loved this piece, and I totally agree. I just started eighth grade this year, and everyday my homework has been almost exactly the same as the assignment you first named, plus social studies essays everyday. I think that you really got the idea, and your research was worth the effort. I also think that one of the big things effecting homework though, is the lack of communication between teachers. They each assign individual assignments, so the total amount of homework can take hours! Teachers ... (more »)
songofthenight said...
Sept. 24, 2010 at 6:57 am
This is well-written. A great persuasive essay. Problem is, you're not looking at the whole picture when you say 'we have more homework but lower test scores than other countries'. Other countries have much longer days. For instance, Mexican go to school until around eight, starting at the same time we do. So research better next time, please.
SportyZo77 replied...
Oct. 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm
I think that there was enough research in this essay. Plus, that is just in Mexico. Hours at school are not the helping thing, it is the homework itself, and that was proven, the hours don't change it.
br123 replied...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 11:30 am
Actually, school hours do affect the amounts of homework assigned. If more class time was granted to each period throughout the day, the teacher would complete the lesson fuller and the concepts might be more easily understood. Also, homework is often times classwork that was not completed in class. If class time was longer, teachers would not have to assign quite as much homework.
SportyZo77 replied...
Oct. 13, 2010 at 5:31 pm
that is true, but not for all schools. Many, and basically all, of the schools I know of base there homework on stuff that is learned in class, but it is not the work u have started on. classwork is classwork, and homework is the different homework. More hours may affect how much you learn and help you better understand the topic, but the homework itself does not change.
*Elle* said...
Sept. 23, 2010 at 5:38 pm
I completely agree with this article. Im in eleventh grade and involved in our school band. Our principals expect the teachers to lighten up our homework load just a little bit during the big band season which is now cause of football season. None of the teachers listen. Band takes up a majority of my time so some nights I dont get home 9 p.m. I then have to eat and shower and spend 3-4 hrs on homework sometimes more so I dont get to bed two a.m. sometimes and I have to get up at 5:45...What kin... (more »)
aluash said...
Sept. 23, 2010 at 5:20 am
This post is wonderfully written... but it made me so angry! I used to live in the States but I moved to China the freshman year of high school because of my dad's job. So now I go to an international school in China with a bunch of American, Korean, Japanese, and New Zealand kids. I am a junior in high school. Our school actually has a minimum requirement of how many AP classes each grade level student has to take. So when American kids start whining about how much homework they get, it gets me... (more »)
DericksGirl replied...
Sept. 27, 2010 at 10:01 am
Aluash, that is really rude. I think you should delete your comment. In case you were unable to notice, your just whinning and complaining too, except your whinning and complaning about how much we whin and complain which is completly rediculous. I'm surprised someone has not reported your comment yet but I can assure you that if you don't delete it someone will. Completly inapropriate for you to say.
SpaceKing800 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 2, 2010 at 10:43 am

Actually, I don't mind the critique. But what hurt me is that people do not seem to realize the whole picture.

I am talking about those who don't procrastinate, who manage their time wisely, but still get a boatload of work each night. These kids are who I am representing, not those who are whiners because they never do their homework.

Another point that urks me is the fact that no matter who it is, everyone seems to refer to Asia or another international country. The fact is, t... (more »)

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