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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Issie said...
Jul. 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm
i agree with you too, even though i go to a private school that only gives a managable amount of homework. Because i have free time to play and read (and develope my brain properly), i really understand how important it is, and i can't imagine living without it. I've watched my public school friends struggle with this, and i'm glad some one's saying something.
Flashlevitation This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 15, 2011 at 3:25 am
i usually have more homework than that a night and i totally agree with u!
RingoStarrlover replied...
Jul. 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm
I agree entirely! There is too much homework!
Philosophication This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 29, 2011 at 6:02 pm
I completely agree. At the ending of the year, I started to get stress nightmares, because EVERYTHING seemed to be coming down during the same 2 week period. Vive la revolution :)
Massiekur said...
Jun. 27, 2011 at 1:44 pm

VERY well written and lots of nice details. I also like the ending sentence. Nice Job~!



Duckie430 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm
Well-written but kind of long article. Nice job.
Bagheera-Rose said...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Your article is well written, and seems to have created a lot of controversy, so good for you. Unfortunately, I disagree with the idea behind your piece.

The government in my state wants standardized test scores to go up. However, instead of raising the expectations for the students, they make the standardized tests easier. How will this help prepare us for the future? Through middle school my classmates and I had it easy. We never had homework. And after going through my f... (more »)

Passion4art said...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm
This is such an eye opener! You wrote so many facts. I especially liked how there was opinions from professors and other people who have done studies on the subject. Great work!
ExpRESsY0uRse1F said...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 10:11 am
This was really well written and had great backup for the main idea. Really great job! Also, if anyone has time, please check out my poem, The Girl Inside. Thanks!
Shadowrider said...
Jun. 23, 2011 at 12:21 am
I love it! This piece was so well thought through and so well put! I agree completely! 
Safeleo said...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 11:47 pm

I agree 100% every grade from first to college emphesises on grades and how well you do on the tests, expecially in high school, where they tell you if you don't have the grades, you won't go to college or get a good job. I'm okay with occasional (like midterms and finals) testing but not hours of homework every night. I get to stressed, and sometimes i feel like my life is passing me by when i'm working on HW while my friends are having fun.


thedancingwriter said...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 10:31 pm
This is really good and also very true. I actually find that sometimes when I study less for tests I do better, and also when I'm not stressed from a ton of work I do better. I loved this!
Annabel_lee said...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 10:48 am
it's summer and i have to spend at least three hours a day on schoolwork
HorseLover said...
May 19, 2011 at 6:49 am
I'm not even in high school yet and I get 3 plus hours a night. I enjoy some of the assingments (I'm a little bit of a geek), but I don't want school to be my entire life!
mia518 said...
May 14, 2011 at 10:51 am
It's probably the same all over the world. I'm a Chinese senior high student and feel more pressure than you do. The college entrance exam is the most essential step for us all. When I was in grade 7, I joggled 5 important subjects and couldn't go to bed until 11. But I feel better  now, thinking about my future life.
MichaelZhangThis 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. replied...
May 29, 2011 at 2:23 am
 We come from the same nation-China. And I also a senior student. I think in a way, the amount of homework in USA is larger than Chinese sometimes. However, our homework is trapped student in doing same things, without any innovation.
Inkslinger said...
May 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm
I understand where you're coming from. I don't believe in going to the extremes, and homework is starting to head in that direction. Homework is good for things like learning to work hard and study, though.
Archangel1410 said...
May 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm
Great article. At times i think that being in High School we have too much homework. In Middle school you should be doing at the least  1 hour to 1 hour and a half of homework each night or studying. In high school they say we need between 2 hours to 3 hours each night. By all means A ton of homework doesn't mean obesity. I dont even know how that came to mind. For example. There is an 11 year old who is a Junior in High School right now, at my school who has freaking good grades and plays ... (more »)
LAXdoubleK said...
Apr. 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm
I agree completely! Read my article I posted a few years back about the same subject, "Too Much Homework, Too Little Time".
Daniosopuppy said...
Apr. 18, 2011 at 9:00 pm
Wow. Your article just makes me want to print it out and show it to my teachers. You have strong detail and back up your topic very well. I'm really impressed. Also kids get tired of homework, so they just stop doing it which in result their grade goes down.
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