Homework Hell or Help?

By , Covington, LA
Can you imagine a society where children are put inside a classroom for six hours and then expected to go home and do hours of work by themselves each day? Regrettably, this is the exact kind of dystopia we live in today. On a personal account, my eighth grade year drastically changed my perspective on homework. Every night was a constant nightmare fueled by caffeine and long episodes of tears until two o'clock in the morning. According to a 2004 national survey of 2,900 American children conducted by the University of Michigan, the amount of time spent on homework is up 51% since 1981. I was a part of that statistic. Homework limits the amount of time children have for fun experiences and activities, it is not proved to have a relationship with learning, and it can have drastic effects on both students and teachers.

A 2002 survey reported that 64% of children between the ages of 6 and 8 years of age have homework each school day. This is double what it was in 1981; furthermore, even the smallest of pre-schoolers are bringing schoolwork home. At this rate, are American children missing out on childhood experiences due to long hours of homework? Some parents really feel their children would learn more about responsibility if they had more time to help out with chores and participate in making the household run properly. Unfortunately, if parents have to choose between doing chores after homework is done and having their child get a good night's sleep, they are likely to choose sleep, and rightly so. Also, instead of going outside to play and exercise, students must fully complete their homework assigned to them, which may take up to three hours depending on the teacher. There is a direct link between athletic students and their grade performances in school. In the future, I do not want to be the type of parent that has to pull my child out of sports and extracurricular activities due to their vast amounts of homework. Recent studies have actually shown a correspondence to major surges in cerebellum growth and peak levels of playtime during childhood. Homework assignments should reflect creativity and last a maximum of twenty minutes. It should be a quick review of material covered within the six hour school day, not an extension of class itself.

Opposing views might claim that studies prove a relationship between homework hours and performance in school work like tests and projects. However, this is not the case. Several studies have actually found a negative relationship between students' achievements and how much time they spend on homework. According to Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth, "By 1960, a reviewer tracked down seventeen experimental studies, most of which produced mixed results and some of which suggested that homework made no difference at all." Multiple people chose to compare the United States homework rate to other thriving countries like China, but why should we compare countries? If Americans wanted their children to be raised and educated like Chinese children, they would send their children to that country. China requires more study hours and one month less for summer vacation. If we were to enforce the same routine to American children, the rate at which children are educated would turn them into adults even quicker than society already demands. Kohn's realistic claim is simple: There is not one single study that shows that homework helps kids learn.

"I think we have too much homework because we spend seven hours a day in school then go home to about two hours of homework each night: sometimes more, sometimes less. But by the time we get home to the activities among our household like family and friends, we are deprived of the most important things in life." This strong opinion came from my good friend and anti-homework activist, Gabrielle Pitre. We both agree that homework puts pressure and struggle into relationships with family and friends. In my own life, my parents helped me with homework up until fifth grade, then I was on my own. They experienced stress and tears just so I could complete an assignment on time. The rigid homework regime results in sleep-deprived kids due to late nights and early mornings. Forget about fun-filled weekends and learning from experiences because children are usually swallowed up in schoolwork projects. Most parents agree that there is an increase in disappearance of family time in favor of tutors and school aid. If homework was to continue at the same pace, where will our country be statistic-wise in just three years?





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