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.

danielle4 said...
on Feb. 13 2011 at 9:29 am
danielle4, Upper Montclair, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
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 prepares students for the rigorous college schedule. And let's face it. Shouldn't the leaders of tomorrow spend more time hitting the books than surfing the Internet?

on Feb. 11 2011 at 8:26 pm
WerewolfWriting BRONZE, Eerie, Nevada
4 articles 0 photos 32 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life is not about the breaths we take but about the people who take our breath away."

I agree. Kids have been saying this for years but this pieces so perfect because you had statistics. 5 stars!

on Feb. 11 2011 at 4:34 pm
Falling_Farther BRONZE, Jkdvls;afnieow, Maine
1 article 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching."

This was an amazing essay!! :D it was very well researched and presented, i like the intro and i like the idea ;)

on Feb. 9 2011 at 12:18 pm
yeah they should give less homework to us who's with me !!!!!!!!!!!!!

de man said...
on Feb. 9 2011 at 11:11 am
I like the fact of the homewoke

super money said...
on 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!

on Feb. 1 2011 at 6:22 pm
alanahlovee BRONZE, Monroe, Ohio
2 articles 1 photo 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Bleeding heart, he called her. Well, he should know. He was the first one to tear it to pieces."- nineteen minutes, jodi picoult

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.

lynxmoon3313 said...
on 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.

on Jan. 31 2011 at 9:34 pm
K.a.t.h.l.e.e.n. SILVER, Plymouth, Massachusetts
6 articles 0 photos 58 comments

Favorite Quote:
See everything, Overlook a lot, Correct a little.

Great research, strong arguments, clear explanations, wonderful organization! Love the essay, keep writing!!

alogolf23 said...
on Jan. 28 2011 at 9:47 am
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments
i hate homework but cool story bro

Success said...
on Jan. 22 2011 at 3:01 pm
Success, Baltimore, Maryland
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Action is the foundational key to all success." - Picaso

I just found this now because I never had a favorite quote, but this pretty much sums me up.

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 an hour for Pre-Calculus alone, so it feels a bit silly to spend that time on homework rather than relaxing or doing something more "productive."

londonbear14 said...
on 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.

on Jan. 20 2011 at 6:40 am
singergurl12 GOLD, Jacksonville, Florida
15 articles 0 photos 190 comments

Favorite Quote:
Fairy tales are true, not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.

you're missing the entire point! the point of this essay wasn't to say homework is stupid and we hate it. the point is to say that homework should be appropriate for grade level, not completely erased for lazy kids. SpaceKing, please correct me if I'm wrong. This is a great peice and I hope you write more.

Fran94 SILVER said...
on Jan. 20 2011 at 1:06 am
Fran94 SILVER, Hayward, California
8 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you are content with being yourself and never compete or compare, everyone will respect you."

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!

Musicxlover2 said...
on Jan. 16 2011 at 6:20 am
Musicxlover2, Irvine, California
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Smile a while and while you smile others will smile and soon there will be miles and miles of smile."

I believe homework should be limited and teachers in a school should work in coordination while assigning homework to students. In my opinion, students need some free time for self study and to see how much of the material taught in the classrooms have they really grasped. Homework doesn't always help in that direction. From what I have experienced and seen, when there is overwhelming load of work to be done, students tend to hurry up with their work and do not make attempts to go in depth into a particular topic because of lack of time. They are under pressure to finish their work for the fear of losing grades. Also, in most schools, particularly high schools, it is just not homework but also tests everyday that take a toll on the students.  When  students have their homework to finish each night, and that most of the time means working all through  the night, where is the time to study  and review for the tests and make sure that he or she has really learned and knows the material well? I personally would like to take some time, explore a particular topic, see how much I understand and what I need to further do to have a clear concept about various topics of study. Mounds of homework do not allow this. There is a shortage of time, and we look for shortcuts to be done with our work or otherwise stay up every night of the week which has a detrimental effect on our health. Some free time is essential for a student to think independently for himself. To satisfy the intellectual curiosity within himself, a student needs time and freedom to explore. It's a pity that most high school students have no time to read books other than books prescribed by schools. To me, some homework and enough time to self study helps a student learn better.

yur momma said...
on 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

rachel98 said...
on Jan. 11 2011 at 2:36 pm
i really liked this artile because i could relate to it and im doing an essay on the same ezacted thing so do u have any websites that could be helpfull

on Jan. 11 2011 at 10:42 am
HuskyStarcraft BRONZE, Tipton, Michigan
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I COMPLETELY agree with this. Good Job! (btw, last night I had 4+ hours of hw. and im in 7th grade)

kyleywilley said...
on Jan. 11 2011 at 7:58 am
You did a good job. I am very busy with homework and stuff. I am very tired. YawnYawn Yawn

Kirby said...
on Jan. 11 2011 at 7:52 am
They're right,  I have been Depressed since I got into seventh grade.  It stinks.