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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This article has 816 comments. Post your own now!

candygirl_908 said...
Jan. 4, 2011 at 9:32 am
i like the way you think...:D!!!!!
falling_star This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm
Particuarly in highschool, the case is true. I take all honors classes and should therefore expect a lot of homework, but reading chapters of World History books, writing 11 pages of notes, reading books and writing essays for English, doing projects all the time for Earth Science, having three pages of Geometry homework in one night, studying for my daily Spanish II quizzes, practicing my flute for Wind Ensemble, and the three hours of marching band after school and on Friday and Saturday ... (more »)
penguin35 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 24, 2010 at 6:04 am
This article is so amazingly well-written! You got all your points across excellently! I am in 10th grade and I have about ten minutes of homework per night, which is very strange. But I had hours of homework sometimes in middle school. I don't know why my school district assigns less homework as you get older. . . Anyway, my school district knows the 10 minutes per grade level rule, but they do not follow it. I love how you said practicing the same math problems over and over is not helpfu... (more »)
Madisoon said...
Dec. 15, 2010 at 3:28 pm

You presented your aritcle beautifully! I think you should try out for your debate team, if you have one. Also, I think posting this on Teen Ink will let many people know about these studies that have never heard of them before. I commend you on spreading the word.

Keep up the good work, - Jamie

candygirl_908 replied...
Jan. 5, 2011 at 7:05 am
you did well i think you should get your point across adults in your school and schools around you.
ellyn-bo-bellyn said...
Dec. 15, 2010 at 1:32 pm
wow. I didn't know about the NEA rule..... I have way more than 90 minutes of homework a night.... there teachers need to calm down. =) Thank you!
xXMasochistaXx said...
Dec. 14, 2010 at 8:26 pm
You just may become famous one day for helping us! This is so true! I remember in fifth grade I got so little homework but now I am like getting PACKETS to do in one night -.- you rock! I need to show this to my school
JenMikalaEngel said...
Dec. 11, 2010 at 6:51 pm
Amazing article! You present your argument so well! I have half a mind to show this to my school's administration!
TheWordSmith said...
Dec. 11, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Wonderful article! Your point was excellently presented. I could tell you had done lots of research on this article.

Although I don't think homework should be eliminated all together, sometimes I am really slammed with homework and it makes me have to skip out on getting together with friends (social connection) or ballet classes.

TheWordSmith replied...
Dec. 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm
Oh, and I forgot to add: homework does help me learn & remember things better, so that's important, but it would still be nice to do a bit less of homework. ;)
Sadia123456 said...
Dec. 7, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I hate to do homewrok and I like the waY You do work


Olivia7 said...
Dec. 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm
Wow, I couldn't have said it better! That is truly an amazing article that really speaks for many middle schoolers. I'm in 8th grade and get straight A's. The only problem: I'm so darn slow! Yes, I understand all the concepts, I'm just such a perfectionist that it takes me hours just to get my work done! Playtime is essential for development as is sleep. I often go to bed from 11-12! Thank you for this great article and for all those mind- blowing facts.
Crash. replied...
Dec. 7, 2010 at 6:58 pm
This really good, my best grade in school is math, why not bc Im good at but bc our teacher never gives homework and feels it is stupid. 
jimmydane34 said...
Dec. 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm
i believe homework isnt as necesseary as people make it out to be. my major problem in school is doing homework assignments because of the boring same repetive non challenging work i recieve to do at home. i get A's in all test but end up getting a C even D because of homeowork. english we rarely do homeowrk evolving our thinking skills such as opinion essays.  teens especially in highschool should just take responsibility for themselves. assign less homework. if a student really pays atten... (more »)
Scorpion said...
Dec. 5, 2010 at 2:11 pm
This is a good persuasive writing all about the growing homework problem. 
unicycleprogirl said...
Dec. 2, 2010 at 5:44 pm
This article really expressed both sides of the issue.  Very informative.
bigfatfaceflat face said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 12:22 pm
wafflez got that pineapple head going  on and iownyourfat donkey sucks at black ops and mw2 gf kidss
iownurfatnoobdonkey said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm
no ur donkey is a big lake milk fat noob so put that on ur bio and add me so i can kill u in black ops and mw2 noob ur fat donkey cant beat me noob so get a life noob
wafflez said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 11:29 am
your donkey is big lake waffle milk man garbage noob fat
Jakethesnake said...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Not only do I agree with the subject, I really love how this is written. Youve done your research and have somehow  made yourself an excellent writer. 

However, I must agree with PenguinFeet down there, well at least partially. Teachers assign homework for a reason, and that is to make sure we drill it into our heads so that we do well on our tests. I never did HW until recently. So sure, I was getting all the exorcise I needed, but I, until recently, I was failing ... (more »)

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