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 Nov. 21 2009 at 8:20 pm
This was a great essay! I believe that eliminating homework all together wouldn't be a great idea; in math, practicing problems helps you remember how to do them. We shouldn't get 50 math problems to do in one night, but no homework at all would mean no one is practicing the way you do the math. The other subjects, like language arts, and social studies don't need homework. Science, like chemistry, probably would still need homework. But there are subjects that don't need hours and hours of homework! I definitely think that five hours of homework a night is ridiculous! After a certain amount of time, you probably forget half the stuff you learn because you're working on it for so long. Start the homework revolution!

jonasloverrr said...
on Nov. 21 2009 at 4:31 pm
I'll point out that the U.S. has higher literacy than both China and India. If we have less homework than China and India and higher literacy, what does that say?

happypuppies said...
on Nov. 21 2009 at 4:19 pm
I'm in 8th grade (and in the US) and I have about two and a half hours of homework or more every night. I like this article because I agree completely. Often, I am too busy with homework to worry about whether what I'm eating for dinner is healthy (sometimes I even skip dinner) or when I should have gone to bed. The amount of homework I get definitely impacts my social life (i.e. "I can't come over today 'cause I have homework.") and puts on a lot of stress. Middle school isn't nearly as fun as elementary school, back when there was barely any homework. I'm definitely not as close to my friends as the average teenager should be, thanks to homework.

Also, about who gets the better jobs in America, a lot of it depends on whether you went to college, what college you went to, whether you're bilingual, past jobs that qualify you, past volunteer work, experience, and so on. You wouldn't put on an application "I went to school in India/China so that qualifies me because we had school 6 days a week" or whatever. Also, I don't hear that much about tons of Indians and Chinese people immigrating to the US and beating out Americans for jobs. Only 4.43% of Americans are of Asian ethnicity in the first place.

on Nov. 21 2009 at 1:09 pm
I wish!!! Just these weekend I have to do 3 powerpoint projects and an essay.

on Nov. 20 2009 at 2:05 pm
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

What are you happy about?

Letters345 said...
on Nov. 20 2009 at 12:55 pm
WHOOP!!!!!! YAY!!

on Nov. 18 2009 at 8:53 pm
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

That's what my mom said also. Remember, the technology age also altered the homework. Before computers,students had to research everything withouth the help of the internet. They also had to type write/ hand write everything. Teachers couldn't possibly assign all the homework we get now. A lot of concepts we know weren't even discovered yet!

kasras said...
on Nov. 18 2009 at 8:48 pm
they are lying about preparing you for work my mom says she had 1/4 of the homework we ahd and she has the honored position in her company this is pure bullshlakhom

on Nov. 18 2009 at 8:36 pm
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

So, did my friend. Imagine what it must have felt like to sit in a class of Pre-Algebra 7th graders when you were a little 4th grader!

But, anyway, I thinks it's wrong to judge people by their smarts logically. We are each "smart" in our own special way.

I would be in Algebra this year if it weren't for my Pre-Algebra teacher last year. Although I am not too fond of that logic, it's still nice to know that I already know the concepts, so I won't struggle in the class. And who knows? I might just end up with the rest of my classmates moving on from Algebra.

Kavishg BRONZE said...
on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:51 pm
Kavishg BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 39 comments
I knew algebra(8th grade) in like 4th grade lol. I wish there was a gifted and talented program in our school

on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:49 pm
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

My friend has gone up 3 grades for math since 1st. So yeah, she's pretty smart. And I am in the Gifted and Talented program at my school, which is like going up a grade except without excelling to an older class. If that even makes sense.....

on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:45 pm
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

EXACTLY!!!

on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:45 pm
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

I know, I know. My friend makes beautiful fractals of wonderful art using GIMP. I know you can make something great for our cause.

Kavishg BRONZE said...
on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:35 pm
Kavishg BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 39 comments
Lol i am one of those "smart" kids, but actually I like working, so i am not really stressed lol. I already know 9/10th grade math, and i am in 7th grade lol. I got an 800 on a practice Math SAT!!!! Not bragging, just stating the facts. (though stating facts is sometimes bragging)

Kavishg BRONZE said...
on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:34 pm
Kavishg BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 39 comments
No STRESS!!!!!!! YA!!!! Also with better education with this cycle, then students can learn better, and become teachers, and since they learned better, they are better teachers, so then the next students learn even better and become better teachers, and etc...... AWESOME!!!

Kavishg BRONZE said...
on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:32 pm
Kavishg BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 39 comments
Gimp is good for backgrounds, Gimp to Photoshop is like piano to violin. With Gimp you can make something cool within a day, while with Photoshop it takes a while to be able to use it effectively. With piano you can sound good even after a few months, while with violin you just sound squeaky until maybe a year.

on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:09 pm
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

Which would lead to less homework. It's a continous cycle, my friend.

Longer school day=longer periods=less cram time/more socialization=less homework=extra curricular activities=less studying time= NO STRESS!

on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:07 pm
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

Ah, my friend has that program. Go right ahead!

Kavishg BRONZE said...
on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:05 pm
Kavishg BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 39 comments
I can make a cool logo with gimp.

Kavishg BRONZE said...
on Nov. 18 2009 at 7:04 pm
Kavishg BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 39 comments
Lol also longer days would allow students to socialize more, and teachers would not have to cram their lesson into a short 50 minute period.