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

June 12, 2009
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.

Join the Discussion

This article has 816 comments. Post your own now!

Josh C said...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm
I agree with the ten minute rule. I mean really! I'm up at ten doing homework. Besides, if at night you get a scary feeling inside if you don't do it.
Letters345 replied...
Nov. 12, 2009 at 1:58 pm
Ur all over the place, rn't u SpaceKing800?
SpaceKing800 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 12, 2009 at 5:36 pm
Now you see why I wrote this essay.
doglover95 said...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm
THANK YOU! we need less homework and we should get it on the computer but some kids dont have one so how will that work? i cant spend anytime with my friends or my boyfriend! i miss him and he a football player! COME ON! LESS HOMEWORK! PLEASE!
SpaceKing800 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 4:47 pm
I guess that's a good point. XD
Start something! Tell your friends! Start a committee! Use this essay as your guide! A Homework Revolution is imperative at this point!
EricBlair said...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 3:18 pm
Today's education system is outdated. We need redesign for a new era! We're in the 21st century now! Not the Industrial Age when this education system came about!
Letters345 replied...
Nov. 17, 2009 at 11:15 am
EXACTY!!!!!! If u wanna change it, DO SOMETHING!! join up on the web site!! Rally ur friends!! Start a protest! SOMETHING!! Don't just sit there and WAIT for evryone elts to change the world! If u feel strongly about this, make the effort to change the system!
SpaceKing800 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 17, 2009 at 3:31 pm
Yes, join the website. It must become something bigger!
Letters345 said...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 12:40 pm
I'm in! No more homework!
harmy1 said...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 12:31 pm
They should give us homework like 2 subjects or less? cause I be staying up all night doing homework.
Minotour5 said...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 11:42 am
I will join this revolution and help you spread the word, Us kids get to much homework! We need more play time!
Isabella123 replied...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 12:19 pm
1 sheet of paper is all we should get
Letters345 replied...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 12:39 pm
One worksheet is all i want
SpaceKing800 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 8:31 pm
That would be nice.
doglover95 said...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 11:15 am
WE NEED TO DO IT! allot of us kids are having a hard time in class cause of allot of homework and i stay up till midnight doing homework! i agree HOMEWORK REVOLUTION!!!!!
dajuan replied...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 11:35 am
I think that we should still have homework
but only on a computer and its a weeks worth of homework. They should give
us 2 weeks to get it done. Then we can still
have homework and be active.
Minotour5 replied...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 11:43 am
I think we need only 1 homework a day and thats it I don't like homework
CaseyLeigh This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 8, 2009 at 1:42 pm
I love this piece. :]
Letters345 replied...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 12:38 pm
Ya, but what did u get out of it?
SpaceKing800 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 4:07 pm
It's kind of funny though. It wasn't my intention to ban homework, only to recieve less of it. But, no homework can work,too. ^^
Nora:D replied...
Nov. 9, 2009 at 4:16 pm
Candy: I`d have to agree with this article. The ten minute rule is there for a reason; to not strain kids. Yes, being smart is good, but where will you get with that if you don`t have friend-time to practice those socializing skills that all of us will need later on in our lives? We need them to give speeches, express our opinions, and even have a chance to leave a mark on the world community.
Site Feedback