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.

on Oct. 24 2010 at 9:57 pm
DaydreamBeliever GOLD, Lockport, Other
15 articles 4 photos 140 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you live to be one hundred, I want to live to be one hundred minus one day, so that I'll never have to live without you. -Winnie the Pooh

my best friend got shingles from stress. she does lots of lunh time and extracurricular stuff and it and the homework just wore her out.

on Oct. 24 2010 at 1:35 pm
Destinee BRONZE, Oakville, Other
3 articles 0 photos 303 comments

Favorite Quote:
Blegh. - Abraham Lincoln

I agree with aluash, although I hope that I can express myself better.

Homework is absolutely no problem if you manage your time wisely. People don't and then complain. 

The kids you are representing are few and far between. 

on Oct. 24 2010 at 12:25 pm
sOmE_nIgHtS SILVER, Wayne, Pennsylvania
5 articles 0 photos 39 comments

Favorite Quote:
Yes it's hard to write, but it's harder not to.

I have sooo much hw these days! It sucks!

on Oct. 24 2010 at 10:50 am
addisonmc521 GOLD, Oak Harbor, Ohio
12 articles 16 photos 27 comments

You have just put my thoughts into words. I just never knew how to say it. I'm a freshman in high school and all I have is homework after homework after homework. And I used to go running every day after school, but I'm doing my homework from 3-9 or 10. That's 6-7 hours! Plus I also have a study hall during the day, so add an extra hour.

I have so much due to the matter that I'm in multiple honors courses and these classes are extremely hard. I'm maintaning straight A's, but it's only because I spend over an hour each night on each subject, studying and re-studying the material long after I'm done.

Although the benefits from this is perfect grades, I slowly been gaining weight, becoming increasingly tired, and I'm drifting away from my friends.

The only time I see them is at lunch, and even then, I'm excluded from the conversation because they're talking about something they had all done together the previous day or over the weekend...something that I couldn't attend since I had homework. (they aren't in honors classes like I am)

Plus, since I began gaining weight, I started eating less. Soon, I realized that this only added to my exhaustion and I couldn't concentrate in my classes since I couldn't keep my head up, so I started eating my normal amount of food each day, thus gaining weight again. I'm still gaining weight.

I try to run on weekends, but it's not enough. My school is irrational on homework. Thanks for the article. You did great!

on Oct. 19 2010 at 1:13 am
corruptionofdata BRONZE, Parker, Colorado
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Is it possible to fall up the stairs?

I go to school online and we don't have additional homework to the stuff we do in class. Yet, we're still learning as much information as the kids who do have it, and are retaining it. I think it's more important for kids to be well-rested and have time for jobs and extra-curricular activities than to have tons of homework each night. It really doesn't do any good at all!

on Oct. 18 2010 at 2:54 pm
As all students belive, there is no time to do 4 hours of work at home. We all have responsibilities that take up our time and efforts.

LLPK said...
on Oct. 15 2010 at 12:47 pm
“A night off is better than homework which serves no worthwhile purpose.”  I absolutely love this statement from a policy that has recently been employed by a school, as mentioned in the article.  I do not think it is right when teachers assign homework "just because."  All homework should be an extension of what is taught in class, and if it is done in class, so be it.  Homework should only be assigned when necessary, and of course, have meaningful purpose.

on Oct. 14 2010 at 10:38 am
Kresint50401 BRONZE, Erie, Pennsylvania
2 articles 0 photos 17 comments
I'm not arguing I agree completely but just saying.. I live in PA and we go to school for 7 hours a day hhaha...

zobean GOLD said...
on Oct. 13 2010 at 5:31 pm
zobean GOLD, Northfield, Massachusetts
16 articles 1 photo 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A Good player inspires themselves. A GREAT player inspires others."

that is true, but not for all schools. Many, and basically all, of the schools I know of base there homework on stuff that is learned in class, but it is not the work u have started on. classwork is classwork, and homework is the different homework. More hours may affect how much you learn and help you better understand the topic, but the homework itself does not change.

br123 said...
on Oct. 13 2010 at 11:30 am
Actually, school hours do affect the amounts of homework assigned. If more class time was granted to each period throughout the day, the teacher would complete the lesson fuller and the concepts might be more easily understood. Also, homework is often times classwork that was not completed in class. If class time was longer, teachers would not have to assign quite as much homework.

on Oct. 12 2010 at 12:33 pm
Meghanv1218 BRONZE, Not Telling!, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 4 comments
Sorry, My school starts at 6:45 in the morning. I accidently deleted the beggining of that sentence :)

on Oct. 12 2010 at 12:32 pm
Meghanv1218 BRONZE, Not Telling!, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 4 comments
Sooooooo TRUE! My math teacher assigns us anywhere from 50-75 problems a night and we need to show all work, and show "check" work for each problem. My math homework takes me around and hour and a half to two hours a night, which is longer than our whole math class (1 hour and 10 min) My math techer doesn't have time to check it so we have to use what she always says is "valuable class time" checking homework together. Then because it takes so long we spend about 5 minutes learning the lesson for the next nights homework, so no one understands it. right now the average math grade in my school is a C- (73.3%) and as a rated school we are a "HIGH ABOVE AVERAGE SCHOOL" 6:45 in the morning and I'm only in 7th grade! There are so many things wrong with america's educational system!

Pixie42 said...
on Oct. 10 2010 at 5:53 am
i love the article and completely agree i never really thought about it so much until now.

Pixie42 said...
on Oct. 10 2010 at 5:51 am
I really love this site.

KellyR GOLD said...
on Oct. 8 2010 at 1:01 pm
KellyR GOLD, Richmond, Virginia
14 articles 0 photos 258 comments

Favorite Quote:
We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

I totally agree with this article! I wish my English teacher would read this. She gave us an assignment to go to the University in my city and listen to the performance of a poet then write a specific paper on it. Everyone else there was a sophmore in collage and had the exact same assignment. I am a junior in highschool.

poppy_lin GOLD said...
on Oct. 2 2010 at 3:13 pm
poppy_lin GOLD, Latrobe, Pennsylvania
13 articles 0 photos 26 comments

i agree, but to tell you the truth, i think that it all depends on the school. like if you go to downtown schools, the homework level is nowhere near those in other schools. i am asian and i think it's not only asian countries that get stereotypes and that is what ticks me off. i wrote about that in my article.

thanks for the article!

cheers! (check out mine if you have time)

zobean GOLD said...
on Oct. 2 2010 at 1:05 pm
zobean GOLD, Northfield, Massachusetts
16 articles 1 photo 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A Good player inspires themselves. A GREAT player inspires others."

I loved this piece, and I totally agree. I just started eighth grade this year, and everyday my homework has been almost exactly the same as the assignment you first named, plus social studies essays everyday. I think that you really got the idea, and your research was worth the effort. I also think that one of the big things effecting homework though, is the lack of communication between teachers. They each assign individual assignments, so the total amount of homework can take hours! Teachers need to do more to even out the homework times TOGETHER! great job, this was a great piece!

zobean GOLD said...
on Oct. 2 2010 at 1:02 pm
zobean GOLD, Northfield, Massachusetts
16 articles 1 photo 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A Good player inspires themselves. A GREAT player inspires others."

I think that there was enough research in this essay. Plus, that is just in Mexico. Hours at school are not the helping thing, it is the homework itself, and that was proven, the hours don't change it.

on Oct. 2 2010 at 10:43 am
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

Actually, I don't mind the critique. But what hurt me is that people do not seem to realize the whole picture.

I am talking about those who don't procrastinate, who manage their time wisely, but still get a boatload of work each night. These kids are who I am representing, not those who are whiners because they never do their homework.

Another point that urks me is the fact that no matter who it is, everyone seems to refer to Asia or another international country. The fact is, this article is for America. I am making a change for the wonderful country that I was born into, where freedom, not competion, should reign. The United States has been caught up too long in being like others, when originally, we were unique.


So please, think before you write these silly comments.

on Sep. 27 2010 at 10:07 am
ShyeGirlBeth GOLD, Easley, South Carolina
18 articles 16 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
Kick The Darkness Till It Bleeds Daylight, Not Mine, But I Love The Saying....; When life gives you lemons, throw them at other people and yell "Make some stinkin lemonade!"; Otay!

Actually some of my friends live in Japan. They get a summer break it's just much shorter because they get a very long spring break. As for Sundays, they don't go to school I can assure you. And 7 hours a day is only one more hour than we have so if anything we should get 1 hour of homework if were trying to make it even to there ciriculum.