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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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allybymyself said...
Apr. 7, 2011 at 10:43 pm

I will help with the REVOLUTION!!

I know that sometimes when I say "LESS IS MORE" it's because I am a lazy student. True, so who is better quailiifed to have an opinion??

Parents and teachers put too much emphasis on tests instead of actual learning. Most things we learn are for the test, no one remembers the lesson in another year.

At my school SO much is about test scores and GPAs it defines a person. Most people hang out with people that have similar grades ... (more »)

 
ChoCho1001 said...
Mar. 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm
i agree...i've always made a point on the fact that adults/teachers say we need exercise and then go overboard on the hw so we have no time for anything else (ie exercise)...a lot of times the excessive hw causes kids to feel burned out too early in life(they get sick of school and hate it)...this was a great article and really proved a point...maybe i will share it with some of my teachers
 
RockGirl182This 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...
Mar. 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

i agree 100% 

In France ( I live there ) teacher can give you from 2 to 5-6 hours of work and our school days are very long ( until 5pm ). When I get home I don't feel like doing MORE school work. 

I hope that teachers over the world and in the states will see that extra homework is not necessary and most of the time, those not help us improve.

 
Scipio said...
Mar. 26, 2011 at 8:46 pm
Teachers don't just give you homework so as to make you suffer; homework helps you to learn. If you can't or don't do the homework, there's no way that you'll do well in your classes. Also, do you think that just because you've got it easy in High School by having no homework that it'll be the same way in college? No, it's better to get used to it now than in college, where you're paying over $4,000 a semester
 
OneBlackGirl replied...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 4:27 am
(complete sarcasm) Yes, doing something wrong over and over and not knowing it, will definately teach me the right way to do it.
 
GNNINGN said...
Mar. 23, 2011 at 9:21 am
OVERACHEVIER!!!!
 
melikwa said...
Mar. 22, 2011 at 9:40 am
I disagree with this article, I do think we have alot of homework somethimes. At my school we only get homework if we don't finish it in class. Im in 8th grade, and I think that it's not to bad if we get homework because the more we learn, in the future we can use these skills that we learned. If we don't know how to do math or make actual sentences, then that won't help us in the future when we need a job to make a living.
 
bobob123 replied...
Mar. 23, 2011 at 9:09 am

overachiever

 

(i think its spelled  rite)

 
OneBlackGirl replied...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 4:32 am
At my school, we get homework and oftenly take home schoolwork. Practicing something wrong over and over and over and over, doesn't teach you how to do it right. And if you know how to do it right, why are you getting homework. I believe quizzes (which we take daily anyway) would be a more reasonable way to spend time. Not me doing something wrong repeatedly and finding it out three days after I get my quiz back that told me I was doing it wrong already.
 
The Beast said...
Mar. 22, 2011 at 8:59 am
I agree with this 100%. Great article
 
callmeVieve11 said...
Mar. 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm
I completely agree with and love this article!! And you know what sucks?? At my school district, homework only counts as 10% of your grade. 10%!! Which is absolutely ludacris. I am someone who always does their homework, who has never not had homework to hand in when it was due. But I'm just not a good test-taker, like many others- I freeze up, I have brain blanks, etc... even though I know the material. So what does this mean?? I don't recieve the class averages I deserve, espe... (more »)
 
fiftiesgal467 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 2:44 pm
I watched a video recently that you would agree with. It's called A Race to Nowhere. All teachers should see it!!
 
Aspiringauhor said...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm
I should be getting more than an hour of homework, but instead I get over three hours. Teachers need to ease up; you're right!
 
Lex2011 said...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 11:52 am
I agree with this completely. I'm in 9th grade and I take all honors classes. Now, I understand that I agreed to step up and do more work but sometimes "more" is a little too much. We sit in class for 40 minutes, listening to lecturing and writing notes and then we receive homework. Most of the time, the homework isn't even what we learned about, but we are expected to complete it. There's too much on our plates already what with school, homework, friends, and other activities. My mom tells me I... (more »)
 
skysurferfan said...
Mar. 18, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I definitely agree.  I also think we should take a look at what we are making our children learn and do.  For example, I remember throughout elementary school, having to alphabetize my spelling words.  What on earth does this help a child do?  Learn their alphabet?  If a third- or fourth-grader doesn't know their alphabet by that point, it's pretty much a lost cause.  I remember typing an assignment for English class on the computer, before our teacher told us it... (more »)

 
Jakob said...
Mar. 18, 2011 at 7:53 am

I agree with this totally!

I think that the school system doesn't think that most of the kids are maybe doing some kinds hobbies out side of the school.

So they just let us do a lot of homework, and then we can't do what we want to do.

 
Willful_Destruction said...
Mar. 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I love this article, and I totally agree with it! I am in seventh grade as well, and the homework has gotten out of control in my school. Sometimes I am up past 12:00 PM working, especially on nights when I have to stay after school, attend basketball practice, etc, etc. I love the idea of the "10 Minute Rule."

Fabulous article, really. The sources you provided and the research is amazing. =]

 
MadiBird said...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I don't believe you're in the seventh grade - you write way too well!

I love this article. Instead of most kids, who like making excuses to attempt to get out of homework, you actually did you research and came up with an amazing and valid argument.

Great job!

 
Kidlet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 7, 2011 at 9:24 am
This was very well written. Bravo. :)
 
33333333333 said...
Feb. 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm

i agree lets start a revolution

 

 
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