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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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jenny2116 said...
Feb. 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm:
i'm in the 7th grade, but i have algebra and earth and space they r both 9th grade classes and that's pretty hard. next year i take biology and geometry so it's a lot of work. i never have time to play and everytime a teacher gives hw to a student that gives me 30 min 4 each hw. i have 6 classes times 1 hw each is 3 hours. it usually takes me longer than that because i have hard classes. it's supposed to take me 70 min 4 hw like they said.
 
beach replied...
Mar. 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm :
yes, and also if people are crammed with hw they need to drop some afterschool activities, i think that hw is part of learning. 
 
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WeLiveForScarsThis 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. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 21, 2011 at 11:59 am:
At my school, the homework policy is that every teacher should assign 30 minutes of homework per subject, with the exception of my 2 hour class, that must be an hour long. That is a total of 3 hours. I am in the 9th grade, so according to the NEA, I should only receive 90. This is a real eye opener for me, I always believed my homework load was too hefty but I never knew the actual facts on this topic. Thank you for enlightening me.
 
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danielle4 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm:
Well, at my school, homework is never just busy work.... so maybe homework really depends on the school....
 
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danielle4 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 13, 2011 at 9:29 am:
I don't really know about this... I think that homework is necessary to improve the mind. In sports, the more hours you practice the better you are going to get. Therefore, the best students are the ones that study A LOT and are completely disciplined. At my school we are given EXCESSIVE amounts of homework. Juniors and seniors stay up until 3 am just to complete everything. I am a sophomore, and I routinely go to bed at 12:40 after I finish all my homework. While it certainly is tiresome, it pr... (more »)
 
aaliona replied...
Feb. 14, 2011 at 5:47 pm :

While I agree that studying is important, too much homework misses the goal and excess studying can burn kids out. Students have a mindset that homework is just extra work and often times don't put anywhere near their full effort into it.

At my school, it's common to see students 9-12 alike copying or doing last-minute homework scrambles. They don't look at it as "help;" they look at it as a chore.

Homework for learning purposes is good. Homework that's just to fill the... (more »)

 
StarredCritic replied...
Feb. 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm :

 

I believe that public education is a way to divert the radiance of a young mind, and program it to perform certain functions that would benefit the deranged society. Homework is unbelievably draining and redundant, but I think it's meant to be a distraction and prepare young individuals for a rountine, dull life of simply turning the wheels of the economy. I believe America isn't concerned with education - they're concerned about their wealth, and... (more »)

 
cloverturtle replied...
Mar. 1, 2011 at 9:38 pm :

StarredCritic, I , too, am home schooled so I don't have much homework but I think that it is important. Regardless of how grueling it may be, the public education system is already lacking. They're only teaching the students enough to pass standardized tests, or at least that's how it was when I went to public school.  When I was in fourth grade, I had a teacher that assigned at least two hours of homework. We never complained because we were being taught. She wa... (more »)

 
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WerewolfWriting said...
Feb. 11, 2011 at 8:26 pm:
I agree. Kids have been saying this for years but this pieces so perfect because you had statistics. 5 stars!
 
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i luv me tacos 237 said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm:
yeah they should give less homework to us who's with me !!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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de man said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:11 am:
I like the fact of the homewoke
 
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super money said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 11:04 am:
see me i go crazy everytime i get that math reading and spelling i feal like i want to do sucide they need to shortin it down!
 
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alanahlovee said...
Feb. 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm:
I love this article. I'm in the highest level classes for my grade that the school offers, and sometimes I'm so buried with homework assignments that after coming home from my sports afterschool, I just opt to finish the assignments during various classes the next day because I need to sleep. I shouldn't have to choose between homework and sleep as a sophomore. Of course, some homework should be given, but not to the point where I don't have time to talk to my family or even relax when I get home.
 
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lynxmoon3313 said...
Feb. 1, 2011 at 8:21 am:
Homework is not necessarily given by the tons to all schools. I know my school does not give their students two hours of excessive studying. But homework stands on two things, the student's drive to actually complete the assignment and if the worksheet helps you to understand what you've learned or not. The school can provide as much work to the child as they want and he/she may still learn nothing. It is not about the quantity of your work, the quality is more important.
 
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K.a.t.h.l.e.e.n. said...
Jan. 31, 2011 at 9:34 pm:
Great research, strong arguments, clear explanations, wonderful organization! Love the essay, keep writing!!
 
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alogolf23 said...
Jan. 28, 2011 at 9:47 am:
i hate homework but cool story bro
 
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Success said...
Jan. 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm:
Homework is not necessary for students you personally have a reason to do well.  But kids who don't plan to go to college or go to a bad school likely would not study at all for a test, so homework is a way to study.  Personally, I sometimes feel like I have useless math homework for things I already understand.  The teacher grades my homework for a 5 point grade and I did it because I "have" to, but I already know th information and get an A on the test.  It sometimes takes ... (more »)
 
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londonbear14 said...
Jan. 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm:
ok this was an awesome essay. Though i still have questions on late work, at my school, if it's late then we get a zero or have to do another assignment. Also, i completly agree to SINGERGURL12.
 
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Fran94 said...
Jan. 20, 2011 at 1:06 am:
I completely agree that there should be a homework revolution! Having so much homework is just wrong. Besides that, this essay is well-written and very informative. It is very persuasive with the many facts and expert accounts. The beginning of the essay is very eye-catching. I truly hope you keep writing essays like these!
 
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yur momma said...
Jan. 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm:
im in 7th grade and i have to do a presuasive essay and i want all homework banned so imma make this a good essay
 
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