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.

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This article has 816 comments. Post your own now!

AriShine This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 20, 2012 at 9:19 am
No matter who agrees or disagrees with this, this is incredibly well written. I have seen opinion articles blotched by lack of research and bad writing. Thank you.
yellowflower said...
Jun. 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm
I ADORE this and completely agree! It's yac-tastic (: great job lauren!
Ame Amieque said...
May 15, 2012 at 11:45 pm
I agree! We're getting homework dumped on our heads! Teachers get nervous, and do that. One of my teachers is mentally declined so she assignes us 6-7 pages minamum and 15 to 16 max. 50 extremely hard problems each! Also, my back hurts! SO BAD!! THIS IS AN SOS TO TEACHERS! SPECIALLY MY OVERDOING MATH ONE.
DoenEscherHomework said...
Apr. 12, 2012 at 6:59 am
I completely agree with everything you said and Ireland is completely the same I get way too much homework
She-who-loves-love said...
Apr. 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm
I totally and completely agree. All my life I've had straight A's, every time. When I got to middle school, the homework level increased insanely. I started not doing the homework because I knew the material, because I didn't need the extra work. And now I'm struggling to keep a B. I say count me in to the Homework Revolution!
selenafan1 said...
Apr. 6, 2012 at 10:18 pm
I don't think we should get homework unless projects. Because school takes up about six hours of our life five times a week. And I think all work should be done in class. Unless a test i coming up and you need to study for it.
PhoenicianBeauty98 said...
Mar. 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm

MellyBelly, I don't think this is a good rule. More homework is better.

I guess for 1st and 2nd graders it's a good rule.

PhoenicianBeauty98 said...
Mar. 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm
More homework is better. The 10 minute per grade level rule is too general, and some students get bored. I don't think this silly rule should be enforced at all!
PhoenicianBeauty98 said...
Mar. 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm
I think 7th graders get 60 MINUTES. 1st graders get 10 minutes, 2nd graders get 20 minutes, and 3rd graders get an hour and a half.
MellyBelly said...
Mar. 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm
I'm from Canada and this is exactly what I think all the time! I get so stressed out, no time for me because I'm trying to catch up on all my homework. I think I'm going to show my principal this and talk about the 10 minute rule! thanks!
svds1 said...
Mar. 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm
I think homework is beneficial. But not loads of it, and not none of it. My teachers assign reasonable amounts of homework, however, they make it due on the same day!  I have 5 seperate pieces of homework and 1 project that were all due TODAY!!
EvangelineFlores29 said...
Feb. 6, 2012 at 8:23 pm
Cars and houses are not very cheap and not everyone is able to buy it. However, loans are created to help different people in such kind of hard situations.
Warner19Letitia said...
Feb. 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm
I propose not to hold back until you earn big sum of cash to order goods! You should take the business loans or short term loan and feel yourself free
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Angolagirl66 replied...
Mar. 8, 2012 at 8:54 am
This is not helpful!
Pebbles Farmer 2017 replied...
Apr. 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm
well if yuh think dat other people think that it is workinq very well ..... ;p
Inksplotch said...
Jan. 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm
I want to print this out and distribute it across my school... Excellent essay~
Firetip This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm
Agreed. This is so incredibly true (and beautifully written). MASS EMAIL TO TEACHERS OF AMERICA!! YAAAAAAA!!!!
heygirlhey said...
Jan. 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm
This is an excellent essay :) We were doing opinions in English earlier this year, and this was one of our models. In fact, it was our main model! Great writing!
Pumpkinscout replied...
Jan. 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm
Totally agree...I mean you do the work in school why should you do it again when you go home???
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