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.

Teeten said...
on Jan. 10 2011 at 10:22 am
Teeten, Newark, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Well this is crazy i cant imagine myself in this situation, even thou i get a lot of homework too, but not as alot as you. Anyway i think you all should take a big step and reported to the principal if nothings happens maybe the superintendent, for a change.

on Jan. 8 2011 at 10:33 pm
KathrynWilks8492 SILVER, Aurora, Illinois
5 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone."
-Jim Fiebig

I'm a high school senior and recieve countless hours of homework every night. I'm in tough classes and because this is my last year before college I find myself procrasting and having to pull all nighters almost every night of the week. But the truth is homework is what helps me learn. I learn better revewing the material by myself and actually studying it. If my teachers didn't asign so much homework I don't think I'd retain any of the infomaton and do well on the tests. I like most students my age, doze of during lectures or text because I don't enjoy sitting there and listening to the teacher.Homework helps me succeed. Yes, sometimes certain assignments are stupid but they give you some easy points that could save your grade in the long run. Should my homework load be less? Sometimes I wish it was because I lack sleep and sometimes have to give up my social life and activities but in college the homework load will only increase, so I might as well get used to it now. Homework is part of a student's job just like when we're adults will have a real job that will require additional work at home. I am grateful for my countless hours of homework because its teaching me to become a responsible adult and get all my work done so I enjoy my time with the simple things even more than I already do.

GaelicC said...
on Jan. 8 2011 at 4:32 am
GaelicC, Longford, Other
0 articles 0 photos 91 comments

Favorite Quote:
No -Rosa Parks

I wish this article would go further on from just this Teen ink website. I wish you could represent students-  you know, how they're feeling about homework and stuff because from the comments I've saw, everyone seems to agree!

Brilliant article! I love when people write articles complaining about schools. ALL schools must improve, and not just in America but everywhere. Well done!!!

on Jan. 7 2011 at 11:15 am
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.

on 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.

on Jan. 4 2011 at 9:32 am
i like the way you think...:D!!!!!

on Dec. 29 2010 at 4:50 pm
falling_star DIAMOND, Stafford, Virginia
52 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"This sh-t writes itself." --William Shakespere

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 all day and occasionally all night is too much to do! We need a revolution... preferably before I get to be a senior. I'm a freshman and it's already bad. 

on Dec. 24 2010 at 6:04 am
Mandiella DIAMOND, Plaistow, New Hampshire
73 articles 58 photos 349 comments

Favorite Quote:
Don't waste time. Start procrastinating now.

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 helpful. I totally agree. That annoys me so much! After doing one or two you'll get the point! Math homework is not even checked for right answers, just effort. I like how you really did research before writing this article. You didn't just say, "Okay, here's what I think." You got useful quotes and reputable sources. I have a persuasive essay due for school on January 14th, and this essay you've written is a great example of how that essay should look!!!! :)

on Dec. 15 2010 at 3:28 pm
Madisoon BRONZE, Groesbeck, Texas
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
\"If you hit a little kid in the face with a bottle of \'Johnson\'s No More Tears\' shampoo, is it considered beautiful irony?\'\"

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

on Dec. 15 2010 at 1:32 pm
ellyncannon PLATINUM, Mexia, Texas
29 articles 0 photos 204 comments

Favorite Quote:
That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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!

on Dec. 14 2010 at 8:26 pm
jaani-androphile BRONZE, San Diego, California
3 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
oompa loompa doopity doo jeffrey's stirring up some chocolate for you- macabre

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

lmmirzaeih said...
on Dec. 11 2010 at 6:51 pm
lmmirzaeih, Foster City, California
0 articles 0 photos 17 comments
Amazing article! You present your argument so well! I have half a mind to show this to my school's administration!

on Dec. 11 2010 at 5:21 pm
TheWordSmith SILVER, Placerville, California
5 articles 0 photos 51 comments
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. ;)

on Dec. 11 2010 at 5:19 pm
TheWordSmith SILVER, Placerville, California
5 articles 0 photos 51 comments

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.

on Dec. 7 2010 at 7:33 pm
Sadia123456 BRONZE, New York, New York
3 articles 0 photos 15 comments

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


on Dec. 7 2010 at 6:58 pm
tomgirl.93 GOLD, Sudbury, Massachusetts
10 articles 2 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Learn who you are and stand by it."

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. 

Olivia7 BRONZE said...
on Dec. 7 2010 at 4:38 pm
Olivia7 BRONZE, Cavecreek, Arizona
3 articles 0 photos 9 comments
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.

on Dec. 7 2010 at 1:08 pm
violinistforlife SILVER, Thornton, Colorado
5 articles 0 photos 4 comments
I agree with you.  I take college classes, am in several after school clubs, youth groups, and community orchestras, and volunteer at an animal shelter at least three hours per week.  I don't have a lot of extra time on my hands, so when I hear other people complain that they have a couple of work sheets to finish that will cut into their three hours of free times, it is really frusturating.  The reason we go to school is so we can learn.  I'm not saying this article wasn't well written, it is just frustrating to see so many people complaining about how much homework they have when they could be pushing themselves harder and accomplishing more.

on Dec. 7 2010 at 1:03 pm
violinistforlife SILVER, Thornton, Colorado
5 articles 0 photos 4 comments
I would have to agree.  As annoying as homework is, I don't know if I could learn as much without it.  And as a high schooler taking college classes, I can honestly say that high school homework is nothing compared to college homework, because the majority of the work in college must be done outside of class.

on Dec. 6 2010 at 4:55 pm
jimmydane34 GOLD, Wood Ridge, New Jersey
10 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.

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 attention takes notes and has the responsibiliy enough to go over the notes to retain information you'll get A's which is what i do. but homework deteriates my grades. is it an excuse? no, but assigning useless repetitive homework to only make administrators happy in thinking we as general teen society will improve test scores. kids will be kids, the ones who really want to educate them selves, will do so with or without assigning homework