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!

Mari said...
Jan. 7, 2012 at 2:55 am
I totally agree we this article! I myself, quit high school to start college early through this extra-credit program... all the stress of high school gave me insomnia, colds and sometimes, the stomach flue.
ConstanceContraire replied...
Mar. 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm
yeah and college didnt give you any stress?
juleslacks said...
Jan. 2, 2012 at 12:19 am
I understand your pain, but please keep your political opinions to yourself when not essential to the present topic.
nancydrewgirl said...
Dec. 30, 2011 at 12:52 am
I'm a sophomore in high school. I had block scheduling, which means I was going to the same 4 classes (Algebra II Honors, English II Honors, Latin I, and Creative Writing) every day. I often had 3+ hours of homework every night. Add this to Beta Club, Scholar's Bowl, Book Club, and Horseback Riding, and I barely had time to sleep! More homework does not necessarily mean better, just like you stated in your article, but i do think some homework is needed. I learned very quickly freshman year (... (more »)
CorrinaElisabeth said...
Dec. 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm
I agree in that many times the workload seems burdensome - especially with subjects that you find difficult, the amount of homework can seem impossibly long and tedious. However, I *disagree* in that I think the level of homework (oftentimes, at least) is reasonable. As a society and as a generation we have become, to put it simply, lazy. Our "jobs" right now are to be students, and as such we should put forth effort to attain what we want. If we aren't willing to work for it, we don't deserve A... (more »)
chloechoi said...
Dec. 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm

im in 8th grade and I get 2hrs of math alone!!! stupid algebra 1


billgamesh11 replied...
Jan. 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm
OMG IKR!!! I hate Algebra! :P It takes me sooo long to finish! :(...But anyways, awesome article!!! As you can see, LOTS of people can relate to this and take your side on this! Great Job and Keep Writing!!! :):):);)
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm
Good job on the article! As for algebra, Yep . . . . nobody in my class understands it-- and we're in the advanced class (not that that means much). Hmm. . . .wonder what my math teachers would say if I showed this to them? Probably some gobbledygook about crucial skills, even though I'm planning not to use algebra in reall life
ConstanceContraire replied...
Mar. 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm
how can you not use algerbra in real life?
babysteps said...
Dec. 16, 2011 at 8:16 pm
I totally ggree with you im in 8th grade and have at least 5 hours of homework a night!
ConstanceContraire replied...
Mar. 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm
i think almost all of you should get a tutor 
BrynaJo said...
Dec. 16, 2011 at 7:19 am
I totally agree! A few nights ago spent 5 HOURS ON ONLY 3 QUESTIONS! Usually I am able to be done with my homework in less than in an hour. And then when you throw sports or other extra circulars it just adds to the stress. I don't think teachers realize how much they push students.
ConstanceContraire replied...
Mar. 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm
boy are you going to have a hard time in college 
Tardus227 said...
Dec. 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm
I COMPLETLY agree. I've worked 4to 8 hour homework nights and its annoying. Imean why give kids so much homework it causes stress? It just ruins our government (It dosent help with Obama being prez.) and childrens helath benifits?
ConstanceContraire replied...
Mar. 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm
first of all spell correctly and second if all, of you people think that your homework is so hard then it most likley means you dont know the work and it is extra pratice to help you understand and if you still dont get it then talk to the teacher to explain better! you keep talking about less homework but its so annoying because it seems like all of the people that dont know what they are doing want less homework i think this is just an excuse for less work  
schoolgirl13 said...
Nov. 26, 2011 at 10:24 pm
i agree with this as well, but in a mtter of speaking, i disagree. For kids, sometimes its just too much for us. And for example, I  have to stay after until 5:30 or 6:00 four days a week. Add to a Homework load and its overwhelming. I always wake up exausted. But homework is neccessary as well. Many of us wouldn't be learning without it. We would be rotting our brains with tv or video games. This is an issue that has to be looked at in every aspect.
Grania This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm
This is exceptional. Great work!
Kayroxy101 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 7, 2011 at 8:16 pm
I agree 100% I usually get 7hrs of homework. Then plus 7hrs of school. I really don't get any time to break. I wake up at 5 in the morning to get to school and I go to bed usually at midnight or so. It's awful. Something really needs to be done!
ConstanceContraire replied...
Mar. 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm
try managing your time right and you might get more hours of sleep 
ZetaTheGreek said...
Nov. 6, 2011 at 8:27 am
An english and a second foreign language certificate is a stardand to get a good job. Plus you need it to study abroad. Students start english lessons at the age of 5-6
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