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 Aug. 6 2011 at 9:42 am
bravo!! i thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. all of your points were valid.

BlueMoon17 said...
on Jul. 25 2011 at 8:40 pm
BlueMoon17, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
Love the article, I agree that we need less homework, sometimes it takes more than a hour to write a essay. This is the reason why I would end up turning work in late!

on Jul. 22 2011 at 10:35 am
With-the-Wolves BRONZE, Waco, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 5 comments
This was a GREAT article, and you had many great points. I agree completely.

on Jul. 15 2011 at 7:24 pm
LifeWrite PLATINUM, Westfield, New Jersey
44 articles 14 photos 53 comments
I could not agree with you more!!! DEFINITELY time for a homework revolution--and good writing too, by the way! I wrote a MUCH shorter article about a similar topic regarding education. Here's the link if you're interested:

Issie said...
on Jul. 15 2011 at 3:36 pm
i agree with you too, even though i go to a private school that only gives a managable amount of homework. Because i have free time to play and read (and develope my brain properly), i really understand how important it is, and i can't imagine living without it. I've watched my public school friends struggle with this, and i'm glad some one's saying something.

on Jul. 15 2011 at 12:36 pm
faceityouredone SILVER, New York, New York
5 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A mistake is simply another way of doing things."
~Katharine Graham

"For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool."
~Paul McCartney

"Live Without Warning"
~Billie Joe Armstrong

"Life is but a Dream for the dead:
~Gerard Way

I agree entirely! There is too much homework!

on Jul. 15 2011 at 3:25 am
KristinHopkins8 SILVER, Aspen, Colorado
7 articles 0 photos 83 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die"

i usually have more homework than that a night and i totally agree with u!

on Jun. 29 2011 at 6:02 pm
Philosophication GOLD, McKinney, Texas
12 articles 3 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"This above all: To thine own self be true."
William Shakespeare's Hamlet

"To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid."

I completely agree. At the ending of the year, I started to get stress nightmares, because EVERYTHING seemed to be coming down during the same 2 week period. Vive la revolution :)

Massiekur said...
on Jun. 27 2011 at 1:44 pm

VERY well written and lots of nice details. I also like the ending sentence. Nice Job~!



Duckie430 said...
on Jun. 23 2011 at 8:34 pm
Duckie430, Riverside, Rhode Island
0 articles 0 photos 228 comments

Favorite Quote:
“The secret to life is being who you are and being happy with who you are.”
"Whatever does not kill you only makes you stronger."

Well-written but kind of long article. Nice job.

on Jun. 23 2011 at 8:06 pm
Bagheera-Rose BRONZE, Tacoma, Washington
1 article 7 photos 22 comments

Your article is well written, and seems to have created a lot of controversy, so good for you. Unfortunately, I disagree with the idea behind your piece.

The government in my state wants standardized test scores to go up. However, instead of raising the expectations for the students, they make the standardized tests easier. How will this help prepare us for the future? Through middle school my classmates and I had it easy. We never had homework. And after going through my first year as an Honors student in high school, I can honestly say that a little prep would have been nice. Homework is half the battle.  If students do not study, then they do not learn. I was horribly unprepared for Freshman year, but at least I managed to pass with honors credit, which is more than most of my classmates who started in honors can say. And it all comes down to the college applications, and the scholarship applications. If they see that you struggled in high school, good luck. All I am saying is, it would be nice to know that my teachers are doing all they can to teach me, and get me ready for college and the working world. I would be glad for three hours of homework each night.

Besides, if you think of homework differently, it isn't so much of a chore. You wrote this, didn't you? You obviously researched your topic. If you put that kind of motivation into your schoolwork, you will go far, and you will feel better on the way.

Thank you for your time, and once again, good work. If I could write like this in the seventh grade, I would have an English teacher to thank.

on Jun. 23 2011 at 3:35 pm
Passion4art SILVER, Wilsonville, Other
5 articles 11 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
Imagine with your eyes closed then open them to reveal a world of possibilities.

Live as if you'll die today. Dream as if you'll live forever

This is such an eye opener! You wrote so many facts. I especially liked how there was opinions from professors and other people who have done studies on the subject. Great work!

on Jun. 23 2011 at 10:11 am
rubyrainstorm SILVER, Closter, New Jersey
7 articles 0 photos 275 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

This was really well written and had great backup for the main idea. Really great job! Also, if anyone has time, please check out my poem, The Girl Inside. Thanks!

on Jun. 23 2011 at 12:21 am
SecretFlame PLATINUM, Portland, Oregon
20 articles 1 photo 373 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I have a life. I just choose to ignore it."
-one of my friends

I love it! This piece was so well thought through and so well put! I agree completely! 

Safeleo said...
on Jun. 1 2011 at 11:47 pm
Safeleo, Iwakuni, Other
0 articles 0 photos 118 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Looking up into the night sky is like looking into infinity - the distance is incomprehensible and therefore meaningless."
-Douglas Adams

I agree 100% every grade from first to college emphesises on grades and how well you do on the tests, expecially in high school, where they tell you if you don't have the grades, you won't go to college or get a good job. I'm okay with occasional (like midterms and finals) testing but not hours of homework every night. I get to stressed, and sometimes i feel like my life is passing me by when i'm working on HW while my friends are having fun.


on Jun. 1 2011 at 10:31 pm
thedancingwriter, Atlanta, Georgia
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
This is really good and also very true. I actually find that sometimes when I study less for tests I do better, and also when I'm not stressed from a ton of work I do better. I loved this!

on Jun. 1 2011 at 10:48 am
Annabel_lee SILVER, Sugar Hill, Georgia
7 articles 5 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
The fifth verse of 'Annabel lee' be Edgar Allen poe: and we love that was greater than love of those who were older than we, of many far wiser than we,but neither the angels in heaven above nor the Desmond under the sea, can ever dissever my soul.....

it's summer and i have to spend at least three hours a day on schoolwork

on May. 29 2011 at 2:23 am
MichaelZhang PLATINUM, Guildford, Other
29 articles 1 photo 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
The purpose of competition is to eliminate the competition.

 We come from the same nation-China. And I also a senior student. I think in a way, the amount of homework in USA is larger than Chinese sometimes. However, our homework is trapped student in doing same things, without any innovation.

on May. 19 2011 at 6:49 am
HorseLover SILVER, Dallas, Texas
7 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A boat is safe in the harbor. But this is not the purpose of a boat."~Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist

I'm not even in high school yet and I get 3 plus hours a night. I enjoy some of the assingments (I'm a little bit of a geek), but I don't want school to be my entire life!

mia518 said...
on May. 14 2011 at 10:51 am
mia518, Chengdu, Other
0 articles 1 photo 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
The greatest achievement in the world is to do what people say you cannot do!

It's probably the same all over the world. I'm a Chinese senior high student and feel more pressure than you do. The college entrance exam is the most essential step for us all. When I was in grade 7, I joggled 5 important subjects and couldn't go to bed until 11. But I feel better  now, thinking about my future life.