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.

GNNINGN said...
on Mar. 23 2011 at 9:21 am

bobob123 said...
on Mar. 23 2011 at 9:09 am



(i think its spelled  rite)

melikwa said...
on 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.

The Beast said...
on Mar. 22 2011 at 8:59 am
I agree with this 100%. Great article

on Mar. 21 2011 at 5:33 pm
CarrieAnne11 GOLD, Potsdam, New York
11 articles 0 photos 22 comments
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, especially in a class like English where the majority of your grade is based on tests/essays/projects and there is almost no nightly homework. On the other hand, there are kids I know who never do their homework because they find it pointless, but then they whiz through tests. it's just crazy. So you make a good point- it is time for a Homework Revolution!!

on Mar. 20 2011 at 2:44 pm
alwayssunshine PLATINUM, Charlotte, North Carolina
24 articles 5 photos 147 comments
I watched a video recently that you would agree with. It's called A Race to Nowhere. All teachers should see it!!

on Mar. 20 2011 at 2:06 pm
aspiringauthor_ BRONZE, Fairfield, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 324 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." - MLK Jr.

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 BRONZE said...
on Mar. 20 2011 at 11:52 am
Lex2011 BRONZE, Washington, Pennsylvania
1 article 1 photo 11 comments
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 need to have straight A's when I have high B's and mostly A's. It's hard when I can't focus because I have so much to do along with 2 hours of homework. It's hard.

on Mar. 18 2011 at 10:35 pm
Roseyalia SILVER, Don&#39t Need To Know, California
7 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand. I don't care, I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me. Take me out to the black. Tell 'em I ain't coming back. Burn the land and boil the sea, but you can't take the sky from me.

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 had to be handwritten (which took about five pages, as we were not allowed to write on the back).  I had to handwrite the entire assignment again.  This was after half an hour of violin practice, so my hand was cramping something horrible.  What does this teach a child?  That, to be successful in life, you must go through physical pain?  Not to mention, the assignment was COPYING WORDS AND THEIR DEFINITIONS (most of which I already knew) FROM A SHEET OF PAPER!  Not even looking them up, just blind copying.  Someone could have done that in front of a television.  Again, I ask: what does this teach me?

I also hate that they make us spend so much time on things that we may or may not already know.  I have determined that, out of my seven classes a day, I learn something in three of them (history, math, and music).  Physical Education (which, by the name, should be an anatomy class) serves no purpose, I already know everything I've "learned" in science, I know more about writing than my English teacher, and a lobotomized monkey could pass my computer class.  The American school system is majorly messed up, and it's gonna take a miracle to fix it.

Jakob said...
on 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.

on Mar. 13 2011 at 2:27 pm
Beachgirl1 PLATINUM, Bellevue, Washington
32 articles 4 photos 178 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If You Don't Fight Back, You've Already Lost."
"Don't suppress Laughter, it goes to your thighs."

yes, and also if people are crammed with hw they need to drop some afterschool activities, i think that hw is part of learning. 

on Mar. 10 2011 at 4:20 pm
Willful_Destruction, Chicago, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

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. =]

on Mar. 9 2011 at 3:04 pm
MadiBird PLATINUM, Warrenton, Virginia
21 articles 1 photo 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hate isn't the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. Because if you hate, you still care."

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!

cloverturtle said...
on Mar. 1 2011 at 9:38 pm
cloverturtle, Webster Springs, West Virginia
0 articles 1 photo 1 comment

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 was the one good teacher I had.

The one subject that needs more work is grammar in this country, as does spelling. The shorthand we all use for IM and texting is becoming how some people write their papers. It's bad.

College holds some promis so long as one chooses a good major that needs the workers as badly as we need the work. 

Being taught to follow instructions is also vital to survival, seeing as we coulsn't have made it this far without guidelines. On the flip side, we also couldn't have made it this far without innovative minds so it's a draw. There are people who like the repitition and there are people who want the freedom. It all depends on the person. 

America will lack if we can't reform the education system, I just don't think eliminating homework is the answer. Unless, of course, what is assigned for homework is done in the class plus what you'd normally do. Repitition is what embeds the concepts into your mind. As annoting as that may be.

Okay, I'm done ranting. My apologies for the length, but it was how my mind formed the reply.

33333333333 said...
on Feb. 24 2011 at 7:33 pm

i agree lets start a revolution


jenny2116 said...
on 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.

on Feb. 21 2011 at 11:59 am
paleteenager PLATINUM, Fountain Hills, Arizona
39 articles 0 photos 38 comments
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.

on Feb. 19 2011 at 2:18 pm
StarredCritic BRONZE, Reno, Nevada
4 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"All who are not wandering are lost." -A quote without a byline that I read in the editorial section of "The Santa Barbara Independent."


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 their generic image. There are different meanings to the concept of education, and I think we're handling it wrong. Homework, after hours of school, seems like a method of mandatory brainwashing cycles that we willingly endure, and then pursue. Homework separates young individuals from their families, their friends, their activities and thought processes. Think about it! They're not teaching us how to think, how to ask questions, how to be innovative! We're simply being taught to memorize, repeat and follow patterns. HOW and WHY are very important questions, but we're wasting our youth and resilence answering the mundane. I think it's a clever system that lures the possibilities of our minds away into easily achievable dreams of college and a high paying job. But it obscures where that actually leads: debt and difficulties. A further prisoning of what you could be, and what they have carefully manufactured you to be. Of course I don't want illiteracy or stupidity, of a certain kind, in our society, but I suspect their "ideas" of education - the removal of ideas, to be more concise. They're afraid of us.

Homework is the basis of that theory, and a way to reach into our minds when we're not under their direct supervision.

I am home schooled. Graduated, actually. And I can think for myself.


danielle4 said...
on Feb. 14 2011 at 6:00 pm
danielle4, Upper Montclair, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
Well, at my school, homework is never just busy work.... so maybe homework really depends on the school....

aaliona SILVER said...
on Feb. 14 2011 at 5:47 pm
aaliona SILVER, Spencer, Iowa
5 articles 2 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Morning is a new sheet of paper for you to write on." ~Eve Merriam

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 last five minutes of class and go in the gradebook is not.