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 819 comments.

on Mar. 20 2012 at 4:35 pm
first of all spell correctly and second if all, of you people think that your homework is so hard then it most likley means you dont know the work and it is extra pratice to help you understand and if you still dont get it then talk to the teacher to explain better! you keep talking about less homework but its so annoying because it seems like all of the people that dont know what they are doing want less homework i think this is just an excuse for less work  

on Mar. 20 2012 at 4:29 pm
how can you not use algerbra in real life?

Angolagirl66 said...
on Mar. 8 2012 at 8:54 am
This is not helpful!

KatsK DIAMOND said...
on Feb. 15 2012 at 8:50 pm
KatsK DIAMOND, Saint Paul, Minnesota
57 articles 0 photos 301 comments

Favorite Quote:
Being inexhaustible, life and nature are a constant stimulus for a creative mind.
~Hans Hofmann
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
~Ray Bradbury

Good job on the article! As for algebra, Yep . . . . nobody in my class understands it-- and we're in the advanced class (not that that means much). Hmm. . . .wonder what my math teachers would say if I showed this to them? Probably some gobbledygook about crucial skills, even though I'm planning not to use algebra in reall life

on Feb. 6 2012 at 8:23 pm
Cars and houses are not very cheap and not everyone is able to buy it. However, loans are created to help different people in such kind of hard situations.

on Feb. 6 2012 at 8:22 pm
I propose not to hold back until you earn big sum of cash to order goods! You should take the business loans or short term loan and feel yourself free

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on Jan. 29 2012 at 4:53 pm
billgamesh11 BRONZE, Grafton, Massachusetts
3 articles 0 photos 278 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It's always darkest before the dawn." ~Florence and the Machine

OMG IKR!!! I hate Algebra! :P It takes me sooo long to finish! :(...But anyways, awesome article!!! As you can see, LOTS of people can relate to this and take your side on this! Great Job and Keep Writing!!! :):):);)

on Jan. 29 2012 at 1:38 pm
Mantequilla SILVER, Eagan, Minnesota
8 articles 0 photos 79 comments
Agreed. This is so incredibly true (and beautifully written). MASS EMAIL TO TEACHERS OF AMERICA!! YAAAAAAA!!!!

Inksy SILVER said...
on Jan. 22 2012 at 5:51 pm
Inksy SILVER, NSL, Utah
7 articles 0 photos 89 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead"
~Benjamin Frankiln
"Love? Above all things I believe in love. Love is like oxygen. Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love."
~Moulin Rouge

I want to print this out and distribute it across my school... Excellent essay~

on Jan. 11 2012 at 3:22 pm
Rocinante SILVER, Wexford, Pennsylvania
7 articles 1 photo 386 comments
Totally agree...I mean you do the work in school why should you do it again when you go home???

heygirlhey said...
on Jan. 7 2012 at 9:03 pm
This is an excellent essay :) We were doing opinions in English earlier this year, and this was one of our models. In fact, it was our main model! Great writing!

Mari said...
on Jan. 7 2012 at 2:55 am
I totally agree we this article! I myself, quit high school to start college early through this extra-credit program... all the stress of high school gave me insomnia, colds and sometimes, the stomach flue.

Mello0936 said...
on Jan. 5 2012 at 1:41 pm
I am not advocating indolence. I absolutely agree that students (and everyone else for that matter) must work hard to be successful in life. This has always and will always be the truth. However, success does not just mean acheiving high scores and high paying jobs. Success should be veiwed from a more holestic perspective. From my viewpoint, in raising two sons, 90% of the homework is more "busy work" that is not contributing substantionally to their knowledge or success but takes significant time (~1-2 hours/day) away from family, recreation, public service and other equally important activities outside of school.

juleslacks said...
on Jan. 2 2012 at 12:19 am
I understand your pain, but please keep your political opinions to yourself when not essential to the present topic.

on Dec. 30 2011 at 12:52 am
mockingbird5 BRONZE, South Pittsburg, Tennessee
4 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Myles: "You didn't kill him. He would have killed you, but you didn't kill him."
Alanna: "So? He was stupid. If I killed everyone who was stupid, I wouldn't have time to sleep."
-Myles of Olau and Alanna of Trebond, In the Hand of the Goddess

I'm a sophomore in high school. I had block scheduling, which means I was going to the same 4 classes (Algebra II Honors, English II Honors, Latin I, and Creative Writing) every day. I often had 3+ hours of homework every night. Add this to Beta Club, Scholar's Bowl, Book Club, and Horseback Riding, and I barely had time to sleep! More homework does not necessarily mean better, just like you stated in your article, but i do think some homework is needed. I learned very quickly freshman year (where my math teacher never took up the homework she assigned every night) that if I didn't do the homework, I couldn't pass the tests. The homework is designed to help kids learn the material better. However, in excess, it is most definitely a bad thing. Let's put it this way. I had severe acne all over my chin and nose, places which are often linked with stress. Five days out of school on semester break? I was completely clear. There you go.

on Dec. 22 2011 at 7:01 pm
CorrinaElisabeth, Eatonville, Washington
0 articles 0 photos 22 comments

Favorite Quote:
"No man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without even noticing it." ~C.S.Lewis

I agree in that many times the workload seems burdensome - especially with subjects that you find difficult, the amount of homework can seem impossibly long and tedious. However, I *disagree* in that I think the level of homework (oftentimes, at least) is reasonable. As a society and as a generation we have become, to put it simply, lazy. Our "jobs" right now are to be students, and as such we should put forth effort to attain what we want. If we aren't willing to work for it, we don't deserve A. Easy A's shouldn't be standard. If they become standard, it doesn't mean everyone's worked harder or gotten smarter, it simply means we've lowered the standard yet again.

chloechoi said...
on Dec. 16 2011 at 10:22 pm

im in 8th grade and I get 2hrs of math alone!!! stupid algebra 1


babysteps GOLD said...
on Dec. 16 2011 at 8:16 pm
babysteps GOLD, Wayland, Massachusetts
11 articles 5 photos 40 comments

Favorite Quote:
"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind."
~Mahatma Gandhi

I totally ggree with you im in 8th grade and have at least 5 hours of homework a night!

on Dec. 16 2011 at 7:19 am
CrazyGirl01 SILVER, Gibbon, Minnesota
7 articles 2 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." ~Albus Dumbledore

I totally agree! A few nights ago spent 5 HOURS ON ONLY 3 QUESTIONS! Usually I am able to be done with my homework in less than in an hour. And then when you throw sports or other extra circulars it just adds to the stress. I don't think teachers realize how much they push students.