The Homework Revolution | Teen Ink

The Homework Revolution MAG

June 12, 2009
By SpaceKing800 GOLD, Glen Rock, New Jersey
SpaceKing800 GOLD, Glen Rock, New Jersey
15 articles 0 photos 228 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but is somewhat beauty and poetry"- Maria Mitchell

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.

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This article has 818 comments.

schoolgirl13 said...
on Nov. 26 2011 at 10:34 pm
I understand what your saying, but just because a child takes more than three hours on schoolwork, doesnt mean they need a tutor. I am an intelligent person, and i can take up to four hours, not because i dont understand the material, but simply because i have soo much too do. Its like this with many kids. Dont just assume were not bright because we take a long time, even though it seems very rational.

schoolgirl13 said...
on Nov. 26 2011 at 10:29 pm
it isnt even really depending on what country your learing in or how your taught ( though some styles of teaching are more complex ), it can just depend on the person learning it all, like you said with your best friend. Its like that here too. And trust me, they give us a ton of homwork too, it just depends on how you juggle it :) Like you have two foreign languages, I learn forensics and Food science both at college levels and im in eighth grade, so trust me, i understand.

schoolgirl13 said...
on 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.

on Nov. 12 2011 at 2:27 pm
Grania PLATINUM, Portland, Maine
33 articles 0 photos 79 comments
This is exceptional. Great work!

on Nov. 7 2011 at 8:16 pm
Kayroxy101 GOLD, Ringwood, New Jersey
18 articles 85 photos 45 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." ~ Robert Frost

"I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence."~ Augustus Waters, The Fault in Our Stars

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!

ZetaTheGreek said...
on 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

Afra- SILVER said...
on Nov. 6 2011 at 12:05 am
Afra- SILVER, Colombo, Other
8 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
Even when the sun sets the moon will rise.

wow, thtat is confusing. and odd what do langfuages have to do so much...=)


on Nov. 5 2011 at 3:22 pm
You do realize that this was written years ago, and that some of the statistics and facts have changed. 

ZetaTheGreek said...
on Nov. 5 2011 at 7:14 am
I personally do. But my best friend, who does the same private lessons as me doesn't. Our educational system sucks so much that is actually recommended to do mostly foreign language lessons to keep up with the school ones. The additional subjects lessons are nessecary only at the end of High School in order to get a good mark to the exams and go to the university you want.

Afra- SILVER said...
on Nov. 5 2011 at 7:09 am
Afra- SILVER, Colombo, Other
8 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
Even when the sun sets the moon will rise.

Good argument. The parents should have doen more than jsut tellt heir kids to study. But mental issues are  barriers that people have to overcome. It can be cause by so many reasons that may also be linked to the fact that these kids work so hard. But I mean you have to learn to be strong, everyone has issues EVERYONE soemworse than others, but it depends on how you deal with it.  

Afra- SILVER said...
on Nov. 5 2011 at 7:05 am
Afra- SILVER, Colombo, Other
8 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
Even when the sun sets the moon will rise.

Do you get good test results from the work you do?

Afra- SILVER said...
on Nov. 5 2011 at 6:55 am
Afra- SILVER, Colombo, Other
8 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
Even when the sun sets the moon will rise.

I don't think they do seven hours staright. Tehy will obviosuly take breaks. Im sorry if you are a parent don't mean to disrespect you. But i agree that to survive in this world with a goo furture you got to work hard from the start.

Afra- SILVER said...
on Nov. 5 2011 at 6:51 am
Afra- SILVER, Colombo, Other
8 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
Even when the sun sets the moon will rise.

Oh and one more thing I forgot, the main driving force that makes theses asian kids study so hard with "less" homework are their parent's who drill them very hard. Its rough and I don't think they should be so strict, but i do think that having your parents push you to your limits is evry important. Afterall, we are kids, and our parents teach us how to survive, and studying hard and getting good grades is one way to survive WELL int his world.

Afra- SILVER said...
on Nov. 5 2011 at 6:48 am
Afra- SILVER, Colombo, Other
8 articles 0 photos 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
Even when the sun sets the moon will rise.

I have so much to say for this. I respect your opnions. I do agree with your last few paragraphs of only assigninf useful homework. But, seriously, homework is tehre for you to study what you have learned through the day. So, if you don't have enough homework to do that how will you get good test results?

Also, I am not sure about your statement of Denmark, China Japan and those countries giving less hoemwork, not sure as in if its right or wrong. But in countries such as Japan/China, even if they don't receive alot of homework as you say, they study hard, as hard as an athelte trains for the olympics. Especially as they get older. In Times magazine there was an article called Tiger Moms, read it please. 

Basically what I am tryign to say is that, yes, the stress of schoolwork can get to you, it may be alot and hard and stuff. And when they admsitered the same standerdized tes in China/Japan (not sure which country exactly the test was given) that they give in America, the kids outside of America SCORED ON AVERAGE MUCH BETTER. But face it, life is ahrd. Your job in the future, will be hard and stressfull, even if you do enjoy it. And in order to get to that enjoyable successful postion you need to work your back off from the later school years such as highschool. 

Ive read your comments below, of how you guys are rooting for the idea of less school work.  But come on, we are a teenagers of course our instincts are saying yay that rocks. But you got to be more realsitic than that. Yeah enjoy yourself, but if you can't finish off the mroe important stuff first, how can you enjoy the fun stuff later. You can now, but when you egt into your twenties or thritiies and you havent done as well as you could in school and couldnt get a good enough job, you'll struggle with life. The world is changing and those that can't keep just won't be able tow ell keep up, and that sucks. 

I knwo I'm being a storm cloud but it's my opnion and I feel very strongly about this. 

donb036 said...
on Nov. 3 2011 at 5:28 pm

There's a few problem with your logic. 1). You say Czech, Japan and Denmark all have higher test scores and less homework, so therefore homework has nothing to do with getting higher test scores. Really? That's like saying Bob wears flip flops every day, and has never gottan cancer, so therefore flip flops prevent cancer. It's an logic fallacy. Just because we have lower tests score then Denmark and happen to give more homework, doesn't mean that the homework doesn't improve test scores. You're trying to assume that the single cause of America's low test scores is homework, where in reality there is a multitude of reasons America has lower scores then Denmark. We test everyone, they test the best, different cultures etc. 

2). Here's the problem with your ten minute rule. It's stupid. How are teachers supposed to know what the heck 70 minutes of homework is? 70 minutes of reading for me is 100-200 pages, but for someone else it could be 20-80. Do you really want 70 minutes of homework every night as well? As a seventh grader? Every night? Consistently?

skittles(: said...
on Nov. 2 2011 at 9:10 pm
Im in eighth grade and i only have like 20 min of homework a day from if u take 3 hours to do your homework, get tutoring!

on Nov. 2 2011 at 7:22 pm
Xella714 BRONZE, Salem, Massachusetts
3 articles 1 photo 18 comments

Whooo revolution!!!

By the way, read kids right to vote.

on Nov. 2 2011 at 6:03 pm
PhilosophicalLinx BRONZE, Upper Marlboro, Maryland
3 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
" I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing."

I gonna go ahead and be the bold one I STRONGLY disagree, well not strongly but I do believe homework has value not at all worthless as you have said. mainly because it helps you stay on task, as oppose to one who isn't assigned homework will do anything but study in his leisure. in fact homework (in moderate amounts) improves test scores , why do you say doing tedious homework with wrong answers is of no purpose. this is the very moment you, yes you the radical student pick up that textbook and read the material before starting the objective in THE FIRST PLACE. so before blaming the teachers, or high expectations of moderators or whatever so have you, I think it is only fair we point the gun first at our selves before convicting other variables of excessive- stress inducing, brain numbing, stupifying-children-just-for-the-hell of it disorder (don't let that verbose line of a disorder undermine what I've just said)

on Nov. 2 2011 at 4:53 pm
Tcoolgirl BRONZE, San Tan Valley, Arizona
3 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch you words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become you. Watch yourself, you affect others."

I think that we shouldnt even be doing 70, or 80 minutes of homework! I stay home from school alot because of Anxiety and stress attacks, which are 90% caused by too much homework.

on Nov. 2 2011 at 7:31 am
RedFeather GOLD, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
12 articles 0 photos 155 comments

Favorite Quote:
Prose is like walking but poetry is like dancing.
—Paul Valery, poet (1871 - 1945)

I completely agree! There needs to be a lot less homework being assigned to students. Just yesterday, I had off from school because it was an in-service day, yet I was loaded down with so much fricking homework that I literally spent ALL DAY doing homework! (Got up at 8:30, did reading homework, had lunch, replied to an e-mail, did my science project, went to CCd, had dinner, read a chapter of my history book, did a worksheet on that, and had half an hour before I had to go to bed.) Too much homework is stressful and does not give students enough time to unwind and relax(or get that hour of exercise everybody is trying to push us to get! Really, How in the world do they expect us to get a whole hour of exercise in every day when they give us HOURS of fricking homework every night?!?!?!). This causes students to feel weighed down, trapped, frustrated, and pointless. (What is the point to all this homework when I'm only going to get a whole bunch more tomorrow? And it's not like there's any time to hang out with my friends or do anything fun afterwards...) Some people have to stay up to late hours just to finish their homework.

Homework is edepriving students of time, childhood, and the opportunities to have a life besides being a student at a school.

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