Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Too Much Homework?

Is homework for kids a good thing? I have never thought so--now a new book, The Case Against Homework, says that there is no link between homework and achievement for elementary students:

For elementary-school students, Cooper found that "the average correlation between time spent on homework and achievement … hovered around zero." In Kohn's book, he highlights a 1998 study that Cooper and his colleagues did with second- through 12th-graders. For younger students, the amount of homework completed had no effect on test scores and bore a negative relationship to grades. (The results weren't quite so grim for older students. Their grades rose in relation to the amount of homework they completed, though their test scores did not.) Kohn looks at these findings and concludes that most homework is at best a waste of time and at worst a source of tedious vexation.


All I know is, last year in elementary school, my kid and her friends were miserable and cranky, with hours of homework every night that seemed senseless. (The picture is her homework from one day last year -- the backpack is full, and weighed 19 pounds. PLUS the stack of books next to it.) Now, in middle school, homework ranges between zero to fifteen minutes a night--all very manageable. I have seen the kids in her middle school blossom into happier, more cheerful beings who have time for other interests. Is less homework the reason? It sure seems like it to me.

112 Comments:

Blogger TabithaRuth said...

Elementary homework sets my teeth on edge. My poor son spends every ounce of self-control sitting still and listening all day and then has to come home and sit some more!

I don't remember homework until Jr. High (and then we felt "grown-up" taking our books home). As far as I can tell my kids aren't learning anything more than I did.

3:48 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Sarebear said...

BRAVO! It's about time.

The frequent tears and frustration and that I can see the damage being done to my daughter's self-esteem . . . .

The fact that they are turning recess into structured PE (when will all the social "learning" that kids do during recess take place, now? When do they get to be a kid, between homework, school, dinner time, reading homework . . . where's the time?) makes me angry, too, although I understand that they are trying to combat the childhood obesity stats . . .

3:57 PM, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to disagree. With one daughter, homework was a necessary part of her actually learning the material. It took her a lot of time to grasp new concepts and we had to spend a lot of time with her at night almost reteaching everything she learned during the day. (Much easier said than done!)

It wasn't that the teachers were bad. They weren't, and they were always available to tutor and help, but she needed that homework to crystalize the work and to catch on to the lessons.

At our elementary schools (and our district is one of the best in Pennsylvania), they try to keep to a 10 minutes per class homework limit -- and for our other (older) daughter, she was done probably quicker than that. For the younger one, we sometimes spent the whole night working with her.

It did get better as she got older, though. By 5th grade, she was mostly independent during homework time. But it still takes her a lot of time.

4:16 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Dr. Melissa said...

Amen Sister Helen!

My second and third grader have more homework and "projects" (for parents) than I had in sixth grade and it's all detrious.

The school has them from 8 until 3 p.m. What the heck are they doing with the children? Skip that. I know the answer: learning about important oppressed historical figures and drug prevention--at age six.

What I find more galling is the fact that I end up being the one teaching them the new concept. The reason? The teaching meethod at school can make the most simple thing complicated.

I could go on and on. In fact, I think I will in my own blog post since I've been ranting on education lately anyway--discussing "fuzzy math".

4:53 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

I can understand (if not quite get along with) some amount of homework at younger grades. That is, the arguments make sense though I think a tutor is a more effective way of making up any difference, if it's needed. However, I expect to soon come across a shrieking, screedy defense of giving what is clearly too much homework, and will be interested to find out what the rationale is aside from "we've done it this way for several years, now."

5:26 PM, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous Jim said...

"At our elementary schools (and our district is one of the best in Pennsylvania), they try to keep to a 10 minutes per class homework limit --"

there you have one answer. there is homework and then there is homework. It really depends on the nature o the material.

for some kinds of knowledge or skills - repetitive or habitual tasks are one example - long spells of study are counter-productive. This is true both for learning close order drill moves for marching, or for verb forms or noun declensions in certain languages. The mind can only stay on this kind of thing for a minute or so, so you have to arrange lots and lots of disconnected minutes of study for it. Reading chunks of literature or history is quite differnet; there you need ot stay it for it to hang together at all.

the teacher should take all this into account when designing the homework task.

the teacher also needs ot take different mental styles into account. Many elementary teachers are very linear in their own styles, and that's fine; what is not fine is jumping to the conclusion that that style is somehow the norm and that if a child deviates from it, he is somehow immature of naughty. He may just not be as bovine as his teacher.

5:55 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Dr. Melissa,

Yes, my daughter has had plenty of time listening to DARE officers and tales of the oppressed through her various books and lectures. I sometimes feel like sitting in on some of these classes etc. just to find out what they are actually teaching the kids. I also think that an eight hour school day is long enough.

6:11 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger storkdoc said...

I won't comment about elementary school homework. I am a "victim" of a Jesuit High School. And I got alot of homework. I also did a paper route and worked at CVS when I became old enough. Was the homework worth it? It certainly taught me how to manage my time.

When I went to college ( again a Jesuit school) I thought that it was so easy. I had learned how to study and budget my time. I worked 40 hours a week while going to school full time and graduated summa cum laude. My friends from public high schools seriously struggled especially in our freshman year. They hadn't learned how to study or budget their time. So I have to disagree that homework is a complete waste of time.

6:44 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Storkdoc,

On an unrelated topic--those ovaries on your blog are really bizarre--I never knew they were so big...

7:01 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger topsecretk9 said...

The fact that they are turning recess into structured PE (when will all the social "learning" that kids do during recess take place, now?

Not to derail the homework question, but the micro-managed recess and ridiculously called for "quiet" lunch to name a few, at least at my school, concerns me too. Homework is ridiculously over-kill and as Dr. Helen mentions makes it hard for kids to engage in life interests, but kids are not allowed to "play" at school anymore. Play is policed and in some instances criminalized and so restricted and I don't know why...lawsuits or perfect record concerns?

8:08 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

*cough*homeschool*cough*

9:53 PM, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anjali said...

I don't think that it's homework that's the problem. It's more an issue of quality vs. quantity. If they're learning nothing but useless crap in the first place, then it's not going to make a difference whether they do a lot of homework or none at all.

10:03 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger dadvocate said...

Count me in on this one. I also agree with Dr. Melissa that "The teaching meethod at school can make the most simple thing complicated." My son was having a little trouble in algebra. Although I only had one quarter of algebra in college, I explained the basic concepts and worked with him about a half hour a night for a week and now he's doing just fine. Why couldn't the teacher do that?

The projects frustrate me also. Last year, in the fourth grade, each student in my daughter's class was supposed to make a mousetrap powered car. No child this age could complete that assignment without adult help. I did the whole thing and she got the "A."

One thing I find several times every year is that some "fact" they are being taught is flat out wrong. I first found this when my oldest son entered the first grade. In a matching assignment he had a rabbit lived in the forest, not a field. Every hunter knows rabbits live in fields. I went to the library, xeroxed a page from a book stating that rabbits live in fields. The teacher just said that she went by the textbook, probably written in New York by someone who's never seen a rabbit in the wild.

10:29 PM, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous Vicki Small said...

The students in our community who achieve not just high marks, but high levels of learning, have been required to do plenty of homework involving real thought, practice, application, etc. The school day contains a lot of hours, yes, but a limited amount of information, hands-on and other styles of learning can be accomplished in that time. Homework can be a worthwhile supplement, if it isn't overdone or busy work. However, I'm thinking more in terms of secondary grades. I don't think I had much homework, if any, until the 6th grade, except that my 2nd grade teacher insisted that I practice my penmanship, every day, all summer. Fat chance!

I do support storkdoc's reasons for disagreeing with this post, although some other good points are made against levying homework. I also strongly advocate home schooling, as long as the kids are actually schooled.

11:20 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Dadvocate:

I do think that part of the problem is that they teach directly from the text books they use and have no room for critical thought. e.g.: my daughter said that her books all say that all slaves worked in the fields and she pointed out to the teacher that many slaves, particularly the women, worked in houses and other places. The teacher simply said that they went by the textbook, even when my daughter had researched and found other evidence. Luckily, my daugher just laughs about all this and says that there are certain questions that just cannot be asked at school. I don't think its funny. The PC crowd and others (sometimes religion etc.) have made it difficult for our children to think critically. It worries me that our kids cannot aked the questions that need to be asked in a free society. But perhaps the schools see it more as their job to turn their charges into properly programmed citizens or maybe they are just lazy. I hope the latter.

6:38 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Cham said...

Dadvocate:

As someone who spends a great deal of time in the forest, I see bunnies all the time. Yes, rabbits live in fields and forests.

8:04 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

"I also strongly advocate home schooling, as long as the kids are actually schooled."

As opposed to going to school and not being schooled? Either place should work or be changed.

Dadvocate: They're lazy.

Personally, I always did my homework during class while the instructor was speaking. Never really learned things from them as they often don't understand the subject they teach. "Teach the cirriculum." This is especially true in the sciences, empirical and otherwise.

8:59 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger tree hugging sister said...

We had the exact opposite problem ~ a child who never did homework, no matter what we threatened, took away, whatever. A little rocket scientist who was enabled by the system ~ whatever he DIDN'T do during the term mattered not in the least. He'd see his class grade (usually a 'D' and COMPLETELY due to lack of homework completions) and then get the appropriate nullifying numeric grade on his 'end of grade exam' (usually a 96-98%)...and pass the whole thing.

9:03 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Sissy Willis said...

All work and no play . . .

9:12 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my child's first week of Kindergarten last year, the teacher sent home a "homework calendar" and I about flipped out. Homework? In Kindergarten? You've got to be kidding me! I looked at the assignments and they were all very simple, things like "Find a picture of something that starts with A," "Practice tying your shoes," and on the weekends, "Go for a walk outside." These are all things we normally did, we didn't need for our kid to be "assigned" to practice using the alphabet, tying shoes, or, of all things, go outside. But I began to wonder if perhaps the teachers have found that the majority of parents need those reminders to spend time teaching their kids these most basic of things. If that's the case, that's incredibly sad.

9:13 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My then 7.5yo son came home with a note saying he'd missed a couple of assignments and that as a result his grade in the class would slip from an 'A' to a 'B'.

His response? "Grades don't really matter until high school. -What are they going to do? Not let me go to third grade?"

at which point I left the room to keep from laughing out loud in front of him while my wife tried to figure out how to the Correct Parental Response.

I saved her the work by coming back and saying 'Well, that's true ...' and then I explained to him that he needed to complete the homework assignments * and hand hem in * despite the fact that they didn't serve any academic or educational purpose.

Just because.

Once he figured out that the path of less resistance was to do the homework rather than rail against it, he'd finish the assignments quickly and then go play in a relatively unstructured, lightly supervised environment.

Looking back on my childhood the wonder is that the children of my entire neighborhood weren't either abducted or mortally wounded playing backyard baseball- without helmets, cups, coaches, umpires .. and, in most cases, bases.

-

9:22 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous CrudeBoy said...

When I was in fifth grade in Houston (I'm in my forties now), we had a class assignment to write a research paper of between 10-15 pages on any subject we chose, and then present it to the class. That was a great project. I did all the writing and research, and my parents helped with the audio-visual parts (my subject was the end of the silent movie era).

I've seen what fifth graders are asked to do now in school, and It makes me angry. Most can't put sentences together and only vaguely understand math concepts.

Is more of less homework the key to fixing the problem? I don't know, but I agree with previous posters that the lack of critical thinking being taught is dangerous.

9:25 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Mel said...

Yeah, I'm gonna call bullshit on the whole article.

"Time management and a general notion of discipline are not refined and specific and cumulative skills like playing tennis or baseball."

Talk to a kid at 12, 16, 18, and 22, and you'll see quite a bit of refinement and accumulation in both. For that matter, talk to him at the beginning and 8 weeks into his first semester of college.

"Nor does most homework teach kids to take the initiative and make learning their own."

Yeah, see, they're KIDS. If it's "naive and unhelpful to expect younger children to defer gratification or know how to engage in long-term planning," what is it to expect that a 12-year old is going to be so excited about Les Miserables that he teaches himself French?

"Eli is at school for 6.5 hours a day already—that seems like plenty of opportunity to get across what they want to teach him."

Piss-poor attitude, that. It suggests that either the kid is stupid and can't learn, or the teacher is stupid and can't teach, or the parent is stupid/lazy and can't/won't help.

I agree with limits on homework, and yeah, you could probably do away with it entirely at the elementary school level. But don't you, as a parent, want to have the opportunity to shape your child's mind? I'm not talking grading their spelling, or mandating Moby Dick, I'm talking about reading to your 6-year old and having him pick out all the words he recognizes. Or having your 8-year old write a letter to Grandpa. Or sitting down with your 12-year old and explaining prime factorizations and suggesting an alternate method. (But yeah, hourS in 6th grade is a little nuts.)

Somewhat related: homework guidelines for college suggest 2-3 hours per week per credit hour. At 15 credits, this is 30-45 hours per week PLUS class time PLUS commute time PLUS job, social life, time lost to hangovers, etc., and it only gets worse as the semester drags on.

9:26 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Amen Helen, our fifth grader is in the accelerated math program this year. We expected it to be challenging and that part is good, he is a bright kid and can pick the new concepts up. What we did not expect was 1-2 hours per night of homework just for math. Even more so than most kids, he is a kid who needs time to relax, hang out, play, etc.

When we voiced our concerns to the teacher he said that maybe Brandon wasn't able to handle the course. But that is not the problem at all, he can figure out the math, it is just the quantity of work that is too long. Last year the teacher assigned too much homework as well but at least he said to stop after 45 minutes. We have started helping him much more on his homework just so he can get done.

I am worried about him burning out on school and not being able to handle the higher expectations when he gets to later grades.

9:28 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Citizen Deux said...

Absolutely on target! When my son was in kindergarten he had about 30 minutes of homework a day!! Now in second grade in Atlanta Public Schools, that number has doubled. Our middle school neighbor is running at 2hrs per night.

Useful? Unlikely. The brain needs downtime to digest the amount of intake each day.

9:36 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous teacher said...

Teachers get a bad rap. In years past, there was a much smaller number of broken families, a smaller number of parents in jail, a smaller number of kids on drugs (illegal and legit). Principals are under pressure to improve the test scores or they lose any federal money, so teachers teach to the test instead of teaching the best way they know.

Easy to criticize the textbooks, but school districts have to use the textbooks available--teachers aren't given the freedom or the budget to choose their own textbooks. Where would they find time to research the textbooks anyway? They're pretty busy as it is, keeping track of kids who need medication, kids who don't have enough to eat, kids who leave the classroom for special ed...so many more interruptions than ever.

Take the time to get to know the teachers. I've learned that very few teachers are excellent teachers of all subjects but each one excels at something. If a teacher's spelling skills aren't up to my standards, he may knock my socks off in science or math. A little patience and understanding goes a long way.

Oh, and back to the topic of homework--if your children are burdened with senseless or burdensome homework, talk to the principal or go to the PTO meetings. Speak up. Oh, and if the homework is burdensome because it cuts into the time your little darlings need for dance AND soccer AND music lessons AND gymnastics...you've lost my sympathy. With all those extracurricular organized activities, no wonder kids don't know where the bunnies live.

9:38 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous 1charlie2 said...

I'd have to disagree somewhat as well -- I think that homework is vital to learning.

Of course, my boys are in parochial school, so I can ensure that the homework is relevant, as is the curriculum. If the argument is the type of homework, or the subject matter, that may be a different story.

I don't know how this stacks up, but they both (4th and 6th grade) wind up with 30-90 minutes of homework a night. Which is about par for what I had a long, long time ago. And I grew up on a farm, so there were pleny of chores in addition to homework.

If I or my spouse don't monitor our boys, they may drag it out forever, but that's not truly a measure of the homework's difficulty or length, only that my kids will lose focus and goof off instead of working steadily. Then shame on me, for failing in my "homework."

As for learning, we must not lose sight of the fact that many things we take for granted require repetitive drills, and nothing else is necessary or sufficient. For example, how else does one learn multiplication tables ? Or to play an instrument ? Yes, drills are boring. And if there is nothing but drills, motivation may suffer. But the hard work cannot be ignored, and it can only be sweetened so much.

If my elementary-school children were consistently bringing home more than an hour total every night, I and the school would have a talk.

But if my kids can't handle that much, shame on them and shame on me. Sometimes, you accept that the snow in the driveway won't magically shovel itself -- something that my kids need to learn more than the multiplication tables themselves.

And I agree with StorkDoc -- learning to work hard at an early age really prepares you well for later in life. It's not all about hard work and sweat, but it's not all leisure time either.

9:39 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Brendan said...

Lots and lots of homework = Nietchsean will to power by the teachers.

Parents are (rightfully) very concerned with their kids success. Teachers control the students and parents through rediculous levels of HW. It also serves as a means to justify any students bad grade and/or lack of learning.

9:40 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Steve in Nashville said...

My only quibble with your post would be the effect of the act of homework towards future efforts at self-discipline. We started my six year old daughter in private school this year, where the emphasis with homework isn't so much "more will make them better" but that they are learning study skills and self-discipline that will prove invaluable not just in later grades but throughout life.

I am an alumni from the same school, but attended only during grades 10-12. However, even that bit of exposure to the self-discipline required made studying so much easier in college. We're trying to start in earlier and more thoroughly with giving my daughter these same skills.

9:40 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter was an avid reader. She can go through a Harry Potter book in what seems like a day or two. We had to pull books away from her to get her to go to bed.

Then came homework. "Read 30 minutes." What happened? One eye read while the other watched the clock. At 30 minutes, down went the book.

She has brought home math and science lessons that clearly were written by someone with no understanding of the topic at all. I would patiently explain why the statements in her lesson were wrong, and send her back to school with a proper understanding of the subject. What happened? Lessons don't get sent home anymore. All we get is a test grade, not the actual graded test so we can go over the questions she missed.

As much as the schools gripe about disinterested parents, they seem to be bending over backwards to avoid parental involvement these days.

9:44 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to Mel's post:
"I'm not talking grading their spelling, or mandating Moby Dick, I'm talking about reading to your 6-year old and having him pick out all the words he recognizes. Or having your 8-year old write a letter to Grandpa. Or sitting down with your 12-year old and explaining prime factorizations and suggesting an alternate method."

A parent who accepts the challenge--and outright fun--of educating his or her own children is going to have children who do well in school. Educating children mean reading to them, asking them to figure out which box of cereal has the better price. Pay attention to everyday situations and expect your children to learn from them. Expose them to something MORE--classical music, art museums, the workings of a tractor, ants on the sidewalk. PAY ATTENTION. Don't expect the soccer coaches and teachers to do it all for you.

9:49 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you all are missing an important point. Elementary/kindergarten homework assignments are aimed at something else. You all have seen the studies: The more time parents spend with young children, reading, exploring, etc., the better those kids do in school, right? Well, our esteemed educational system has taken those studies and incorrectly turned their conclusions on their heads. Like this: IF children with involved parents do better in school, THEN if we force parents to become involved, all children will do better in school. Of course, anyone with any sense can see that that's a logical fallacy. But that's what the schools are doing... they are trying to force parental involvement (via homework to children too young to do it themselves & motivate themselves, etc.) in order to improve that parent-child relationship and make better pupils. Flat out wrong, of course, but that's where it is. The worst part about this fallacy? Involved parents (those who were already involved w/ their kids) become overwrought with the amt of work they have to add to their days, and the uninvolved parents (those who may have needed the help) remain just as uninvolved - their kids fall even farther behind, and nothing positive comes of it. Disclaimer: The above theory applies only to the lower grades. Homework in upper grades is generally useful and helpful to the students. After all, you can't waste class time reading the novel you're studying - that needs to be done at home.

9:55 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect there's so much homework because there's less work being done during the day in school.

I think teachers may be offloading their job onto the parents.

9:59 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger CatoRenasci said...

The reason homework in the younger grades has become popular, it seems to me, is that so little actual learning takes place during the school day, it has be come necessary in order to maintain even a semblance of achievement. Moreover, a fair amount of the homework is given over to the sort of projects that are supposed to make learning fun, but end up taking a huge amount of time concentrating on the form (and often arts and crafts) rather than the content: making posters, or illustrating reports with artwork, building things. Where the grade depends as much on the beauty of the presentation (often done by parents) as the acutal academic content.

When I think about my own school days, from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s, and contrast them to my childrens' during the past 15 years or so, I am struck by the differences:

1. We probably studied fewer things at the elementary level, but we learned in far more depth. My own elementary school principal personally bought the phonics workbooks we used in grades K-3, and throughout the grades we used pre-WWII math books that she had hoarded while the new ones sat in the book room. Math meant drill and memorization. Drill done in class, with quizes on the memorization. Broken into 3 groups, two groups would work problems and memorize while the teacher spent time with the first group, and then she'd (it was almost always she) moved to the next group. Reading and phonics were handled the same way.

2. Recess! We had 10 minute recesses every hour, a half-hour or more after lunch, and an afternoon recess of some 20 minutes. (In addition, we had PE several times a week where the classes played organized games supervised by teachers). This was facilitated by the school plan: one level with classrooms opening onto a breezeway and/or the playground so you could move the whole student body in and out quickly - no stairwells and narrow halls to be negotiated. However, we got to run about, blow off steam, -continued-

10:00 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Maddad said...

I was a homework avoider all through school and I can tell you that there is a benefit to homework. Maybe not to several hours of homework, but some work is a good thing.

I got fantasic grades in elementary school because the homework they gave us was busy work and never graded, by middle school I was in trouble because homework was checked and graded and by highschool I was in more trouble because (proving my parents right) the homework given was actually cucial to learning the lesson.

I've been pretty brutal with my kids over homework because I honestly feel that I would have had better habits, a stronger grasp on the "basics" and in general an easier time of it all around if I had learned to do independant work earlier. College is not the place to learn how to study.

I've been lucky that so far my kids take after their mother, who was a good student, rather than their father, who was good at taking tests.

10:01 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Tari said...

I have a first grader in private school in Houston, and the homework he gets is the most frustrating thing for all of us. It is worthless - never challenging (and therefore perhaps of some use) and always just mindless busy work (this week - circle the question marks - this is something he already doesn't know?!). I would put up with a small amount of work that was truly challenging, and would welcome the chance to have to help him with it - sometimes, even good teachers don't explain things in a way that a particular child can understand, and maybe mom or dad has a different way of looking at it that will work for that child. That would be fine, but asking me to listen to my child count "as high as he can", and have him get to 300 and then slide off the chair onto the floor because he's bored, is really irritating. And I'm paying for this privilege, which really makes me the fool here.

10:03 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger CatoRenasci said...

play games, and visit with friends throughout the day. Our batteries were constantly recharged, as it were, and we never had to sit for more than 50 minutes. When my kids were in elementary school, they had one morning recess of 20 minutes, and up to 20 minutes after lunch. And a PE class that was structured. They might move between classes (we didn't unless we went to the auditorium for an activity with other classes), but they had little time to blow off steam or visit. We rarely passed notes in class because we didn't need to.

3. Homework: we didn't have any below grade 4, except some math drills. You could check out flash cards for math work with your parents or friends. We were encouraged to take reading books home to read, but were not graded or examined on that work. 'Artsy' projects did not exist - or when they did, the pretty ones with poor content did not get better grades than crude ones with good content - and parents who did the kids projects (as if teachers can't tell?) were told not to or it would be failed.

All-in-all, we were happier, played a whole lot more, and learned more. Go figure.

10:08 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Robert Tatum said...

Dr. Helen:

I am on the fence with this one. I think that homework can be purposeful if it truly reinforces what is being taught in school. However, with so much emphasis on test scores as a prerequisite of obtaining additional monies to improve the quality of inner-city school districts, I have seen closeup with my own child how developing a well-rounded child quickly takes a back seat to other priorities.

My daughter was enrolled in a charter school that followed the International Baccalaureate ciriculum for three years until last school year (in third grade). In third grade, there was homework in every subject every night, so much so that we were up past her bedtime trying to help her with subjects that she did not understand. This was after a school day of 8-5pm in which the last two hours were after-school programs based on "test prep". After coming home, she had little downtime to relax and enjoy herself before diving into her school work. It affected her nightime routine so much that she had trouble at times getting up in the morning. Other parents in the school had similar complaints, but the school administration would not hear anyone's concerns. Things came to ahead in April when she cried profusely and begged me not to let her go to school that day. She was afraid that she was not going to pass third grade. I prayed with her and walked with her into school and attempted to get help from the teacher. The teacher was very sympathetic, but she had to follow the company line.

At that point, even though she got high grades at the end of the year, we decided to pull her out of the school and put her into a less stressful environment. She is doing very well, and she is getting a chance to enjoy other activites such as band and soccer, while still meeting her homework committment, which she has not able to do in her other school.

10:09 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger CatoRenasci said...

madad wrote:
I was a homework avoider all through school and I can tell you that there is a benefit to homework....I got fantasic grades in elementary school because the homework they gave us was busy work and never graded, by middle school I was in trouble because homework was checked and graded and by highschool I was in more trouble because (proving my parents right) the homework given was actually cucial to learning the lesson.

I too was a homework avoider by the time we started getting it in junior high and high school. Well, I should be more accurate: I was willing to do work I thought was important (reading literature, math problems-which my friends and I did as a group in the morning in the school library's conference room) but if something looked like busywork, I refused to do it. Did cost me a run-in with a German teacher whom I liked and respected when I wouldn't do mindless writing of verb conjugations 25 times, but we ended up good friends and my German grammar is still sound after over 40 years. But what can you really do with a kid who gets A's on the tests and won't do the homework?

The key is not willingness to do homework, but the ability to discern what's useful and what's busywork. I think 85% of the homework my kids had until high school was busywork. In high school, only 40% was busywork, but that's still too high a proportion.

10:19 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Charlie said...

Historical Background

Homework was one of the innovations of Johann Fichte in designing his Volkschule for the Prussian working classes. The Prussians were devastated by their unexpected defeat at the hands of Napolean at the Battle of Jena. It was seen as resulting from a national defect of will.

Among Fichte's reforms were bells to mark periods (your time is not your own), rows and columns of desks (you are isolated), absence of privacy (you are always subject to scrutiny), grades (your work is satisfactory only according to the judgment of others) and so on. The purpose of homework was to show there was no escaping state intrusion in your life.

The institutional motto was "Soldiers who will obey orders, workers who will not strike, citizens who will not revolt." The elite 6 or 8 percent attended the Realschule, also designed by Fichte along very different, privileged lines to impart leadership qualities.

This was the system that Horace Mann decided in the mid-1800s to import whole to America. He was met with resistance, even revolt. But he soon learned to appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment for funding and to legislatures rather than directly to the people for implementation.

After 30 years he'd been fairly successful in the industrialzed states. Dewey soon approved and announced the purpose of education as one of fitting you as if a cog in a machine.

My three sons attended a private school thru middle school that is uniquely antithetical to the Fichte-Mann model. It is a conscious throwback to the little red school house of early America. It was astounding how well prepared it grads were for high school and for life.

10:23 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that one of the reasons that homework is so important nowadays is because it generates a grade. I had several classes when I was younger where the teacher/professor regularly turned out a majority of students who never, ever passed an exam in their class. These kids would flunk if you just gave them the exam grade; by adding in some kind of completion-based homework grade, they can get a "bump" up to a respectable B or C, even though they don't know the material.

(That's generally a good thumbnail of how good the class is. How much of the grade is homework-based? If it's more than 25%, something is going wrong...)

10:58 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a teacher--my 2nd career BTW--I hate home work because I hate grading it. If you don't grade it they won't do and if they don't do it and there is nothing to discuss in class. Then it becomes a straight lecture which is the most boring class there is. Also, those countries that always outscore the US on standardized tests have a lot more homework than we do. People who move here from Eastern Europe and Asia complain that their kids don't have enough homework. I'm Not really anoinymous. The system won't let me post any other way,

kenharkins@hotmail.com

10:59 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never did homework through 12th grade. It became a habit through the first two years of college, and I flunked out because I was not learning the material.

Worse yet, I did not learn to research subjects or study on my own.

I learned how to study on my own, went back to college and used what I was offered there to guide my independent study, and did well.

Still flunked English, though. Has anyone met an English teacher who was not some sort of weirdo or pervert? I haven't.

11:22 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger piperh said...

I had homework in elementary school, and I'm glad for it. Otherwise I'd never have learned math or reading. Someone stated they didn't have homework until jr high? I find that either difficult to believe, or really sad. I don't think kids that young should be bombarded, but some math problems and reading assignments didn't hurt me or anyone else who had to do them. It's how we learned the basics. By practicing at home.

11:23 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous david said...

After the second day of Grade 8 my daughter spent about two hours colouring in a political map of Canada. With pencil crayons. Because that was part of her evening's homework. Colouring a map. In Grade 8. I did not receive an aswer to the note I wrote the teacher asking if my daughter would be given extra credit for staying inside the lines ...

11:27 AM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems to be another topic where people are trying to reach for generalities--homework is good; homework is bad--when generalities don't do the topic justice. As I read through the comments, it is plain that sometimes homework is valuable and sometimes it isn't. If you are an involved parent, one who cares about education, the school won't mind if you raise questions about the value of homework. The answers may surprise you. At my childrens's school, homework is limited because so many kids ride the bus, limiting their at-home time.

11:31 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger augustr said...

Take pity on your kids and pickup "Mind Hacks." Train their memory and the kids will have a much easier time. They are at the right age where it will be easy for them to pick this stuff up and after a few months effort at training they will never have these Problems again.

11:38 AM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger KDeRosa said...

You cannot take anything Alfie Kohn says seriously.

The edusphere has been all over this latest false meme on homework.

See for example Alfie Kohn is a Dangerous jackass.

Student achievement depends on high quality direct instruction and practice to mastery. Well-designed homework assignments provide the necessary practice.

The fact that most homework is poorly designed and/or busy make-work does not lead to the conclusion to do away with homework, as Alfie suggests, but rather to improve the quality of homework.

Less pasta dioramas, more practice of previously taught skills.

12:31 PM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

Slackers.


U-Va.'s One-Year Wonder: Teen Graduates Early, With a Double Major By Susan Kinzie Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, September 20, 2006; A01
:

... David Banh, an 18-year-old from Annandale, just graduated from the University of Virginia in one year. With a double major. ... Banh was born and grew up in Fairfax, the eldest son of parents who came to the United States from Vietnam in the 1980s. ... By his second year in high school, he was taking three AP classes.

"I sort of got a little addicted to it," he said. At TJ [competitive magnet Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County], he was taking more AP classes than any other sophomore that year, so, he figured, why not do it again next year? "I took six the year after that and figured I may as well take a bunch of exams the next year as well."

Meanwhile, he had mastered bridge -- yes, the card game -- competed in tournaments all over and ran the school club, which doubled in size.

"I loosened my schedule up senior year a lot," he said, ... "So I could maximize the amount of time I had to attempt five or six AP exams outside of the ones I was taking."

... Banh went to U-Va. with the equivalent of 72 college credits. It takes 120 to graduate, and the school requires that at least half come from U-Va. classes. The typical course load is 15 credits a semester. His first semester, he took 23 credits and found he had more time than he did in high school to spend with friends, playing games (video games or board games, he clarified, not drinking games). Or just hanging out. ... He had some low points, especially late in April when the workload for his 37 credits seemed crushing, and his grades started to slip. (To some Bs.)

... the most important thing he learned in college, he said, "is to value the people you spend time with, your friends."

Now he's a grad student. ... He expects to finish his master's degree this academic year ...

12:46 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's funny that they note that grades for older students improve a bit when they do more homework, without noting that in many shcools, homework is a signifigant part of your overall grade.

I hated busywork, and only did what I needed to do to get by with a decent grade. I found most of it insulting and a total waste of my time.

12:47 PM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Dr. Melissa said...

Teacher said:
Oh, and if the homework is burdensome because it cuts into the time your little darlings need for dance AND soccer AND music lessons AND gymnastics...you've lost my sympathy. With all those extracurricular organized activities, no wonder kids don't know where the bunnies live.

"Little darlings", I can tell you have a love for children.

As for the extracurricular activities, at least I can see the point of them:
1. Piano lessons--music increases math scores. Lots of research about that. Not to mention musicians have brains 130% the size of the average person.
2. Sports lessons--social skills like working as a team, learning social skills, managing emotions, do one's best in the face of loss, grace in defeat.

Benefits of homework in elementary school: none. Now, if a child is behind it is incumbant upon the parents and the teacher to help the child.

That is not to say there aren't benefits to homework in the higher grades.

Also, I would posit a guess that the parents who ae involved with their children, engage them in activities, etc. taught their children to read, read to them, take them on vacations, and guide their education. Somewhere in there, the kid learns about bunnies.

And another thing: if a teacher has weaknesses in reading or spelling in the second grade, she is a moron. No teacher of elementary students should have "weaknesses". The curriculum is NOT difficult.

I agree with Brendan. At the elementary level, homework is a way to control parents and spread the blame if a child doesn't learn.

Seven hours ought to be enough.

12:57 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous dweeb said...

For younger students, the amount of homework completed had no effect on test scores and bore a negative relationship to grades

This makes the study suspect. In every elementary school I've ever seen, homework is a major component of the grading system - often 50%. It would be almost impossible for homework completion to have a negative relationship to grades, because the grades, by definition, are largely an indicator of the amount of homework completed.

1:05 PM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger KDeRosa said...

I agree with Brendan. At the elementary level, homework is a way to control parents and spread the blame if a child doesn't learn.

For most kids this is true.

Moreover, in the early elementary years it is preferable for the teacher to closely monitor the student's work to make sure the student isn't learning misrules and the like. preferably, students perform independ work at school under the supervision of the teacher in lieu of homework.

However, for lower-performing kids it is often necessary for them to require additional practice to master math and reading skills. Thsi means either extra time in school practicing or practicing at home with capable parents.

And another thing: if a teacher has weaknesses in reading or spelling in the second grade, she is a moron. No teacher of elementary students should have "weaknesses". The curriculum is NOT difficult.

We must have a lot of morons teaching then. Something like 2/3 of all fifth grade students are not proficient readers in NAEP. this means that most of them also weren't proficient in second grade either.

Most reading instruction in the US is based on disproven practices and ignores the research base.

1:27 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'For elementary-school students, Cooper found that "the average correlation between time spent on homework and achievement … hovered around zero." '

Anyone who thinks that statement says anything about the value the student's got out of the homework needs to spend a bit more time on their own homework.

Of course there is not a positive correlation between time spent on homework and achievement. High achieving students finish the same amount of homework in less time. You should expect a negative correlation, except for the fact that some students, especially at the low end, don't do the homework at all.

This lack of correlation holds even if everyone who does the homework does significantly better because of it.

Note that I have not read the books, nor the underlying studies. And the second part of the quote does reference the amount of homework completed, not just the time.

Note also that I'm not defending the amount of homework given. I've seen plenty of useless homework come home with my kids, and I'm quite happy my oldest child is now in a charter school.

I just didn't like the irrelevency of the first part of the quote, and needed to vent.

1:58 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have observed two things about homework;

1) Far too much homework covers material not covered in class. In other words, some teachers are offloading their responsibilities onto parents. (This isn't entirely the teacher's fault; state and federal mandates have consumed an inordinate amount of their time on non-eductational tasks.)

2) The homework is generally very poorly thought out. In the last three days, my seventh grader has had questions on his homework assignments that we couldn't figure out. (In one case, even an adult tutor at the Jr. High was stumped.)

3) The homework is often not corrected and used for educational opportunities. This probably angers me the most. Even in high school, the teacher's don't proof read reports and add comments.

(This isn't a new phenomenom; my fourth, fifth and sixth grades were a complete waste of time. I was in one of the first "open school" experiments. Homework wasn't part of this, but it otherwise was a clear precursor of no-child-left-behind which emphasizes arbitrary grades over actual education.)

2:03 PM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Mellow-Drama said...

I just find it odd that everyone thinks we need twelve plus years to learn "study skills", which basically boil down to self-discipline on top of your typical reading, writing, and comprehension skills you should be getting with or without homework. I never did a day of homework until my first day of law school, when I decided I would have to study to finish in the top of my class (which I did), and always excelled in school.

2:38 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous teacher said...

Dr. Melissa,

I can see how you would read my comments about "little darlings" that way. I guess I was thinking of the parents who want more recess for their children at school because everyone knows that children need play time, and yet overschedule them after school. I was also thinking of worthwhile homework--parents who don't make time for children to focus on requirements for school are teaching their kids that school just isn't as important as sports.

By the way, I never played sports as a child other than the backyard, unsupervised kind. And yet I managed to learn all those lessons about teamwork. Another thing...my kids are both taking music lessons. Homework comes first, though. Even the stupid homework. Fortunately, it doesn't take them long to get through the stupid stuff.

3:02 PM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger dick said...

I think they need a small amount of homework. The problem is that if the classes are so lacking in content that no homework is needed when the time comes for actually studying the kid won't have a clue. I plead guilty to this one.

I went all through high school on the honor roll and valedictorian of the class but I never had to take a book home ever. I got to college and you talk about a shock. I damned near flunked out!! I did not have any idea of how to study as I never had to study. I went all through high school and when they gave the achievement tests in each subject (at least 4 per year grades 9-12) I was first in my class in 14 out of 16. I ws first in the county my senior year in the all subjects achievement test and got 1585 on the SAT. Got to college and was in class with graduates of boarding schools and exam schools from the big cities. What a difference! Luckily I had one prof advisor who sat me down and we had a long heart to heart.

The kids at some time need to learn to study on their own or else they will really suffer for it later. It doesn't have to be hours and hours at a stretch but at least some of it.

4:08 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Sameer Parekh said...


Somewhat related: homework guidelines for college suggest 2-3 hours per week per credit hour. At 15 credits, this is 30-45 hours per week PLUS class time PLUS commute time PLUS job, social life, time lost to hangovers, etc., and it only gets worse as the semester drags on.


I don't recall any class I've ever taken at university that required even close to that amount of work. -Maybe- 1 hour per credit hour, if that. And I went to a top school, and I graduated with a high GPA, etc.

5:24 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am now a 7th grader and I have to say that home work seems highly illogical to me.
In 6th grade I had a writing teacher that gave all of us malssive amounts of home work, on top of our other normal, but still massive, amounts of home work.
In fact he did not teach us one thing at all, he just gave us homework.
he gave us the equivalent of one essay per night. one time he made us write a tall tale story that had to be 10 pages long. In one night!
I was only 12!
Homework made me hate school.

6:20 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Lady Copper said...

It is very true that much of the time in school/homework is spent in unnecessary busy work - partly because with so many students you can't possibly keep them all going efficiently and at the same pace. However, most of the time the extra work is probably not due to that.

This article is another reason why I am glad I was homeschooled the whole way through. Pretty much my whole childhood we averaged about 2 hours a day, 4 days a week of "school." And we all turned out quite well educated, if I do say so myself! Most importantly, we all still enjoy learning - it's fun.

Because I had so much more time, I was free to read and play for hours, as well as work on chores and useful things like learning to cook or build fences or code in HTML, etc. And you know the funny thing? I actually pretty much spent all day "studying," in one way or another... I guess I just didn't think of it that way though, because nobody was making me. Well, except math! ;-D I still REALLY appreciate all the time I had to pursue my own dreams and interests, and basically find out who I was and what I wanted out of life.

To "7th Grader," I hope you don't keep feeling so discouraged. Hopefully this year will be a lot better for you!

7:05 PM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger J. Peden said...

Right, the parents shouldn't get involved in their children's education - at least without having to battle through the NEA first.

Imo, the real question is, what does anyone ever learn *in class* to begin with?

Out of 22 years of being educated, I can only remember one teacher who ever taught me anything in class. But all he did was to rotely read his excellent notes to us, without any recognition that we were even there. I could have read them much faster at home. People cooked hotdogs on the room heater while he read. They just got his notes from someone who actually took notes, and read them at home.

Reading is much faster than listening, and has other obvious advantages. Derogating homework denies or ignores this fact. Why?

This does not mean that assigning homework for the sake of assigning homework makes any sense or will work magically to educate anyone. Agreed.

But how do you learn the multiplication tables in class? I know, those are "unnecessary". But why do I then find myself using them all the time, for example, to analyze media reports and statistical propaganda, or to figure out how much of something I need or can buy. Should I be tied to Radio Shack? Or to "experts" who can't multiply, even with calculators?

And how do you learn new words if you don't have to look them up, write down the definitions, use the words in a sentence, and fit them into other sentences? How could you do this in class? We did 20/wk. for years. I'm still thanking "Words are Important" homework to this day. Really.

In fact, my favorite classes were all study-halls. I never liked the class-time of any other class I ever took, except for flirting with the girls. At best, I tried to do my homework in class. So did many others. It worked. I didn't have any homework to do at home.

The Slate article was too easy to read. Many questions were dissed or not even brought up. It showed me only that people are still trying to sell books that I now know I don't wan't to read, and develop political propaganda by scamming issues. Nothing new at all. At least it went quickly.

And, say what? -it's unfair, and the "rich" are bad because they allegedly tend to do more homework? Where did these "experts" get educated, in China, during Mao's Cultural Revoluton? Been there, done that. It didn't work, unless you call killing classic intellectuals "working". Killing the general idea of homework is a proxy. But who wants to be rich anyway, when we can all be "equal"?

8:08 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am torn on this one. Our schools are failing at an impressiver rate and our kids are falling behind kids in other countries, at least according to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfRUMmTs0ZA

Is John Stossel right? They give a lot of homework in other countries, I believe.

My kids were buried in homework. The teachers thought they gave ~20 minutes per night per subject... (it was more like 2 to 3 hours per night per class for my youngest). Some kids got it done in less time but mine worked their butts of night after night (until 2 in the morning in middle school for the youngest! )

Oh how I hated projects that were supposed to make learing "fun" but only increased homework time with endless hours of busy work.

High school was a little better.

They sleep-walked through college getting very good grades with almost no effort. That is unitl the youngest changed majors and transfered to on of the top colleges in the country. Now the long hours have returned but they are no worse than middle school.

quasimodo

9:07 PM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Sarah said...

Sameer,

I was handed my Russian 104 (second year, first term) syllabus on Wednesday afternoon. It suggests 2 hours of study per one hour of time in class. I just finished the homework assignments for tomorrow; it took 3 hours last night and 1.5 tonight, not counting the time I spent studying that wasn't directly assigned (copying dialogues, typing up this week's vocabulary, verifying the spelling from my classroom notes, doing extra work on the class website & course CD-ROM - all told, about another 2 hours since Wednesday afternoon.) Each class lasts 1 hour and 18 minutes, and there are three a week -- oh, and the teacher reiterated to us several times that he was being very easy on us this first week of classes. Maybe it's because I go to a state school?

In elementary school we started out with very small assignments and worked our way up (I think in 2nd grade, we had 50 word papers assigned, blossoming to 500 by the end of 6th grade; we had perhaps 15-20 of those a year.) Most of our homework was classwork we hadn't finished, or special projects. My 5th/6th grade teacher gave us a packet at the beginning of the year with all of our projects listed. It ranged from making an Elizabethan costume at home to working on my element of the class "civilization" that we buried for the other class to dig up and analyze. Our biggest issue was the inane repetition; we had I think 3 or 4 weeks straight of nightly pages full of long division with 3-5 digits and by the end, well, let's just say that our collective actions were less than honorable. Invariably the homework headaches came from busywork in core subjects, on the order of diagraming sentences.

In junior high and high school, I suffered under the crushing weight of upwards of 4 hours a day of homework. However, I was homeschooled, so everyone thought I was lucky. ^_^

The only objection I have to my education in K-12 is that I managed to graduate without having ever been asked to learn the names and locations of the US states or any country other than the US, Canada, and Mexico. My mother thought I must have learned that in my highly gifted, highly selective elementary school -- which didn't teach geography at all. And when I got to college, my World Geography teacher took the class time to rage against George Bush, America, and Israel, aka Satan's Minions. I may never be sure where Luxembourg is, or even if I'm spelling it right. That's a real travesty, right there.

(Interestingly, my current temp job involves selling textbooks -- I get lots of calls from parents who say that their kids can't bring their books home! I'm pretty sure they're not overloaded with homework... at least not the spine-damaging kind.)

10:24 PM, September 21, 2006  
Blogger Protagonist said...

A "homework" or "no homework" debate dodges the real controversy, which is the government micromanagement of our children through the force kidnapping and indoctrination system called "public schools".

Some kids learn best with homework; other don't. The choice of which method to pursue should be up to the consumer, i.e. the children's parents. Yet our system treats kids as uniformily and involuntarily as prisoners of ajail. And the system is ossified by confiscatory property taxes and child service laws, which make impossible alternatives to the socialist education monopoly.

And to answer you questions: Yes, I'm a Libertarian, and yes I harbor deep trauma and hatred from my schoolyears.

The only good thing about the current system is that it's quietly breeding a generation of Libertarians.

11:20 PM, September 21, 2006  
Anonymous Bandit said...

One reason they get more homework is because the teachers want more time for classroom indoctrination and less time actually sitting with kids helping them with math problems.

7:50 AM, September 22, 2006  
Anonymous jkb said...

Well, I know at least two mothers who are secretly hoping their middle school daughters lose interest in science so they can stop doing those infernal "projects."

Making school like work will not cause kids to embrace learning as a lifetime habit. They will file it away as a childhood experience best forgotten like braces.

8:41 AM, September 22, 2006  
Blogger Helen said...

Jkb,

Yes, and many of these projects are just silly. I remember a few years ago, my daughter was sent home with a note saying that parents were supposed to participate in helping them make a triarama. I thought my school days were over and I have no skills in making "arts and crafts." We had to enlist the help of relatives even to help our daughter get a B--it seems unfair to be sending homework home for parents. I finished school a long time ago.

8:47 AM, September 22, 2006  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Protagonist said...

A "homework" or "no homework" debate dodges the real controversy, which is the government micromanagement of our children through the force kidnapping and indoctrination system called "public schools".

Funny, the teacher that ranted against the gov recently, the teacher who sat in on a class on scifi fer christ's sake and spewed when I brought up Japanese couples preferring daughters, the general number of teachers spouting Marxist doctrine. That indoctrination. The Ivy Leagues who stifle conservative ideas. That indoctrination?

Maybe you could clarify your meaning?

8:52 AM, September 22, 2006  
Blogger Shanna said...

I'm surprised I haven't seen any mention of copying. I know when I was in high school, if there was homework due that could be easily copied and was useless (ie, not math), someone would do it and everybody else would copy it the class or two before. I don't think that happened as much in elementary school, but in high school, absolutely.

10:06 AM, September 22, 2006  
Blogger Ken Pierce said...

I have seven children currently attending school in a district that is generally highly thought of (Katy, Texas). There is homework every night for all the children, though the homework burden for the elementary children has actually dropped since last year thanks to our having moved across town and thus switched elementary schools.

I have yet to see a single homework assignment, other than the math practice assignments and the request that we read regularly with and to the small children, that I did not consider a complete waste of time. My three older non-adopted children are quite bright; when (because of my wife's failing health) we stopped home-schooling them and sent them to public school they were two or three levels ahead of grade. Now they all three hate and detest school; my sixteen-year-old daughter slogs through the literally hours of busywork she gets every night and keeps her grades up but seethes more or less constantly, while the thirteen-year-old twin boys are in full rebellion against what they see as an utter waste of their time and are borderline failing or actually failing several classes -- because of zeroes on the homework they despise and will do just about anything to avoid.

Having the government run schools is just as stupid an idea as it would be to have the government run all our supermarkets. If Sam Walton and Howard E. Butt (founder of the marvelous Texas H.E.B. grocery empire) were running our country's schools and the government was running our supermarkets...well, I leave it to you to imagine how well-educated, and how malnourished, our children would be. Government-run schools is a frickin' insane idea that survives only because all living Americans grew up with the idea and it seems part of the natural order. But I defy anybody to come up with any even remotely rational defense of the concept.

And I say this even though my father is a retired public high school English teacher.

P.S. The only schoolwork I ever did at home through all four years of high school had to do with the big senior research papers. The critical importance of homework in my case, at least, may be judged by my 800/730 SAT verbal/math scores, and my acceptance into Princeton -- clearly I was intellectually crippled by the fact that my teachers were so unprofessional that they actually thought that I should do my learning during classtime. In all seriousness, after school I invested my time in extracurricular activities such as basketball, in pursuing my own interests in things (such as Koine Greek) not offered in the schools, in learning carpentry and similar skills doing chores with my dad, and in building relationships with my friends and family. For none of these do my older children have any meaningful time left after homework (well, the boys don't when I make them actually do their homework).

And I would add that when I look at the things that have actually contributed to my success as an adult, the overwhelming majority of them were learned on the sports field or in working alongside my father or in my own intellectual explorations in that spare time that I enjoyed but that my children don't have. I haven't the slightest doubt that the homework burden being dumped on my children is depriving them in large part of the very kinds of experiences that I found most valuable at their age, and that had I been cursed with their kind of public school experience I would have been much less well prepared for life than I actually was. Yet I am also absolutely convinced that the Katy administration thinks they are a bang-up bunch doing a spectacular job (you should have heard the self-congratulation in the high school principal's speech at a recent parent assembly), and that they would sneer at my small little redneck Oklahoma high school of a quarter-century ago.

Hmmm, I seem to feel rather more strongly about this than I realized I did. My apologies for running on so long.

3:45 PM, September 22, 2006  
Blogger Ken Pierce said...

Just one more thing:

Time when my 16-year-old gets to school, Monday through Friday: 7:20 a.m.

Time when she leaves school: about 3:00, I think.

Homework every night: three to five hours on weeknights, which would probably be more like two to four if she didn't do it in front of the television (I tolerate but do not believe her protestations that her homework goes faster that way), plus four to six hours over most weekends.

You try counting up the hours and see whether the Katy school district thinks high school kids should enjoy a forty-hour work week.

3:54 PM, September 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't form an opinion on "is homework good or bad for kids." Neither can you.

What kind of homework? What is its purpose? How is it graded? How does it relate to later material (including tests)?

Yes, pointless homework is pointless. And excessive homework is excessive. Is ALL homework pointless and or excessive? Doubtful.

I remember arguing with a teacher that she should give up on homework completely. She wasn't assigning very much - I used to do lots more myself - but she put even less effort into grading it. on one particular paper the kid had a 100% even though all the answers were wrong.

That "teacher" wasn't even interested in teaching. Therein lay the problem - not in the amount of the homework.

7:57 PM, September 22, 2006  
Blogger Protagonist said...

Oligonicella,

Do I understand your point to be that private universities indoctrinate just as much as public schools?

The truth is that there are very few "private" colleges and universities. College is subsidized by massive federal student loans and grants, which make young men & women make academic decisions they would not otherwise. The faculty/administration/students at any given university are as much on the dole as any gheeto/trailer park welfare case.

In a free market, higher education would be a primarily financial decision: "Will I learn something useful in order to make back the tuition I'm spending." Student loans would be hard money loans where lenders expect results, and borrowers prepare to perform. But the current system allows for huge charges for useless classes with endless leeway for deferment and default.

Thus the grade-inflated classes inordinately devoted to pet political or social causes, or esoteric knowledge, or thinly-veiled grade entertainment. There are many different ways to waste time in college, but they all have two things in common: (1) They make the students feel good and come back for more, and (2) they always find a way to support big government, the very agent that allows them to lead their leisurely, scholarly lives on the dole.

11:47 PM, September 22, 2006  
Blogger J. Peden said...

I asked one of my sisters about the question of homework. She mentioned that she very much liked homework: she liked being *alone* with it, and being allowed and encouraged to do so.

She liked learning, from as early as she could remember, and noted that learning is truely a life-long ability, quest, and reward.

She wondered how one would handle college if not accustomed to homework - a question dismissively rationalized in the Slate article.

She wondered what kids were doing in school for so long if they didn't have "study halls", or what they were choosing to do instead.

She wondered why individual teachers were assigning homework if it allegedly didn't work. Or are teachers not able to judge results in the case of their own students?

I've aready ranted about this topic. In short, blaming homework for everything evil is a diversion.

12:21 AM, September 23, 2006  
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8:03 AM, September 23, 2006  
Anonymous Susannah said...

I attended a private Christian school that specified we were NOT to take our workbooks home to complete them. We were to set goals for ourselves in each subject every day (so many pages) and leave the books at school. I never had homework, all the way through high school. All of the extra reading assignments were done at school as well (novels, etc.). When I got to college, it took me about one quarter to get in the groove of studying. Aside from one "C" in business math (not because I couldn't understand it, but because I didn't do the HOMEWORK), I did pretty well all through college, and completed graduate school as well.

Now I homeschool my kids and we do all our math drills, phonics, spelling, history reading and projects, scinece reading & projects, & etc. within 4.5 hours' instruction time. They can't do this at school?

3:29 PM, September 23, 2006  
Blogger Zerosumgame said...

Dr. Helen,

I am surprised that you would think little or no homework is a good idea.

Here's a thought -- let the kids play after school, then come in and do homework in lieu of television, video games, etc.

Homework, if done right, properly reinforces a school lesson and makes it stick.

I live in a suburban school district with a large East Asian population, and those parents don't complain about homework. Their kids seem to be top notch students and at the same time, they are not social misfits.

You probably do have a complaint that some homework given is BS and neither reinforces a math/science lesson, nor does it stimulate creative or innovative thinking.

But our students underperform those of most other countries, and our lack of homework is likely a major reason.

7:24 PM, September 23, 2006  
Anonymous Sonar said...

I've begun work as janitor at a middle school. I'll have three months as the substitute while Oscar's foot heals. I see the children at recess all wearing their daypacks full of books. At recess. Schools don't have lockers. The girls use the back packs with wheels. They look like they're in training to be stewardesses. They don't go out to the field and play, they stay on the tarmac and socialize. The classes are all in English but every break between classes, when they walk from one room to another, it's all Spanish. In the middle of Silicon Valley.
About two thirds of them are on free or reduced rate school lunch AND school breakfast. They continue to run the food programs through summer when school's out. The parents still work and the kids still come to the school for breakfast and for lunch.
When I was a kid, my Dad had started/taken over a company. He had managed a branch that was planned to be closed. With a second mortgage, a lot of debt and a fine man as his partner, they bought out that branch, had their own company, and saved twelve other people's jobs. Every evening he had the dining room table covered with open ledgers or with college business texts. Mom always kept us from disturbing him.
Forty years later that business survives. Thirty years ago, when I was a high school junior, Dad died of his second heart attack. Three of the oldest employees at the company still bring my Mom to company holiday parties.
I will never appreciate teaching people to bring work home.
I will always respect and value people who create jobs, who employ people.
I don't know what to think or recommend about schools, but the most well adjusted and happy of my cohorts were home schooled.

4:27 AM, September 24, 2006  
Blogger J. Peden said...

I just talked to one of my daughters about homework:

Nearly the first thing she said was,"I didn't learn anything in class."

She went 3.87 in Highschool, 3.71 in College. In Nursing school, she didn't get a gpa, and couldn't estimate it off-hand, since she did, after all, get two B's. The rest were A's.

My daughter has previously lamented the lack of hands-on work in class. Some of her teachers were totally deranged, with BDS and P.C.. One sang the "Itsy-Bitsy-Spider" in class and read from Dr. Suess in Spanish.

My sister, who touted early homework, is too modest to think about "achievement", but I know she was at least "cum laude" in a trio of top Colleges.

My sad outcome from never learning anything in class was 3.47 in class, and 14th in class - which I only found out much later when I needed a transcript. We were much dumber back then.

Another daughter, who just started College, called me up to wonder if there was something wrong with her because she wasn't getting anything out of her classes. I told her it was normal.

To be fair, this daughter did like some of her Highschool classes and teachers. But I get the feeling that she was a student they focused on, because she thinks quickly to the point and tends to be a leader.

Class is what needs to be reduced, not homework.

4:05 PM, September 24, 2006  
Blogger J. Peden said...

Another update from my interviews on homework:

I just asked my 17 y.o. daughter about homework. She said: "I don't have any. I do it all in class." She says the classes are basically worthless - students talking to each other, teachers confused about what they said to prepare for that day.

She says she needs quiet in order to concentrate, so she especially doesn't like students talking about their boyfriends, etc., in class. She can't get her homework done.

She did a 3.85 last year, her Junior year. She has credits enough to graduate if she only goes to school for one hour a day. But she goes for four because it "looks good" on her resume'.

I started doing "homework" with her when she was about 3 1/2 or 4 y.o.. She liked it very well, especially math. When she got to first grade, the school tried to say she had ADD, which was obviously absurd. But it threw my now ex-wife into a veritable panic.

The "experts" hinted that kids with ADD respond well to "signing", which my wife started to teach herself and my daughter. Right, kids with ADD can learn how to "sign".

I knew what ADD really is, and that my daughter did not have it. The school knew that I knew. So, I let them have a face-saving "out", which turned out to be more homework. Both my daugher and I liked it very well.

Imo, class doesn't look good at all. Homework looks good.

7:34 PM, September 24, 2006  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Protagonist said...

"Do I understand your point to be that private universities indoctrinate just as much as public schools?"

No, some of the examples were public schools. My point is the indoc tends to be leftest to Marxist when it's there, not in favor or our type of government. Hardly cookie cutter mills for the gov.

"The truth is ... welfare case."

Thanks, but I'm sufficiently aware of the U.S. school system and how it works.

"In a free market, ... default."

It is primarily a financial decision. Student loans are expected to be paid back. People make bad financial decisions.

"Thus the grade-inflated classes ... scholarly lives on the dole."

Pet causes generally at odds with the conservative admin. Iterate, that indoctrination? Don't get me wrong, I find the current diploma fetish worthless, generally. But your sweeping generalizations without concrete suggestion for improvement without removing individual choice seems disingenuous. Libertarian...personal choice?

Tenure is an anethma.

4:58 AM, September 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Generally speaking, both class time and homework are total wastes of time in the average American school. Busywork is assigned and busywork is collected, often without even being graded. This applies almost universally in the case of classes that are not sciences or mathematics, and even in the case of the sciences and mathematics there is a lot of busywork that burns time without much to show for it. Granted, I graduated years ago, but if anything, I presume that things have gotten worse since then.

I learned more on my own than in classes. I directed my own studies, patiently ground through reference books and raided the libraries. That taught me discipline and study skills; all homework taught me was cynicism. I figured that homework was bureaucratically mandated nonsense (I was wrong - it's nonsense doled out because that's the way the teachers are told to do things in educational colleges, and also because it's expected by many parents) and thus was only worthy of halfassed going through the motions with no attempt whatsoever at any sort of quality.

Years later, I still use this 'important' life lesson whenever I have to sit through some silly "training" at work on how to not decapitate myself via papercuts or the like. Roll your eyes, mail it in, and award yourself bonus points on how much of a mockery you can make the entire experience.

Anyways, I had decided a long time ago that homeschooling was both the first and the second option on my list, and only if homeschooling was not possible would it not be undertaken. My sister has independently came to the same conclusion (and she was the 'good soldier', earnestly doing her work and trying hard). I have no faith in the public schools, nor in any public will for them to be fixed within a reasonable timeframe.

2:33 AM, September 26, 2006  
Anonymous Allison said...

I've a 12 year old daughter who attends school in Spain since with moved from the UK last year. She comes home every day after being at school from 08.20 until 14.35 without any homework. However, if we had stayed back in the UK, she certainly would be stuck at her desk each night till late working.

8:28 AM, September 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely. Homework is getting to be too much. I cannot spend quality time with my children because the teachers seem to coordinate their assigning of homework. My child has stayed up until midnigh some nights and then has had to wake up at 5 in the morning to finish it. I am seriously considering homeschool as an alternative because then he would just get the 8 hours of work that he needs. Unfortunately, the school board does not pay any attention to this problem. Is there any alternative?

9:22 AM, October 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a daughter who's in 8th grade this year, and the homework is unbelievable.
She's always been in advanced classes, but she's never had to study because it just came easy to her. The homework would be so easy she'd finish it in class and have plenty of time to come home and relax. But this year, I find her coming home with more and more homework. And most of it is busy work. Pure busy work.
100 math problems? I think students know how to put an equation in slope-intercept form without doing 100 problems. My daughter is also a dancer, and she dances 3 nights a week. Last Wednesday, she had to skip dance class because her teacher told them on Tuesday that they'd have a test the next day. The students were given one day to study.
My daughter is now making up dance classes whenever available, and she is seriously considering dropping out of dance. There was never this much homework before. Ever. And most of it is a review of what was done in class, but harder questions.
My daughter had an A in social studies all throughout last year. It's only been 9 weeks into the new school year and she's got a 73, because her teacher claimed she didn't turn in assignments.I now have to skip meetings at work to come home early and help my daughter with her homework, just so she can get to bed at a decent time.
The schools have them for 8 hours a day. What are they NOT doing during that time that results in so much homework?

This is getting out of hand.

8:06 AM, October 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 16 year old sophomore in high school and homework is ridiculous. I find it hilarious that when I confronted my teachers asking why they were giving me 50 review questions when I already aced a quiz, they made up some lame excuses including that I sometimes needed to do things I didn't want to do. I'm sorry, but isn't the point of school to teach me? I think that if they were trying to teach me that sometimes I have to do stuff I don't want to do I'd work in a sweatshop for eight hours a day. I think it's time for a school reform, maybe grades should be based purely on tests, or what you actually, you know, maybe, LEARNED? There should at least be some rule where I can't fail or get a D in a class purely from not doing homework. Well now I have to get back to writing my 3-5 minute persuasive speech on any topic I choose (why we should change the homework policy) and then finish up my math and chemistry, hopefully before three in the morning.

11:04 PM, November 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My school ishighly rated and we get tons of homework. I get home at 3 o'clock and end at 10 o'clock.

10:45 PM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO, I am a middle-schooler, and they give out HW to last 5 hours... Elementary is only a sampler of what they give you in middle school. I hope these years last long, as High school will be even worse.

12:05 AM, December 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^^^- Hey, its the same person as above... in fact, I am doing HW while Im posting this comment. Its spanish HW-lol.

12:08 AM, December 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im a junior in high school and i totally agree that we are given to much, pointless, homework!!!!! And im not just complaining because i am a student. Both me,my brother, and my Parents are SICK of it!!!! I do think that we need some but not as much as we are given!!Sometimes I think that teachers think that we have 12 freaking hours to get thier assigments done!!! Well ive got news for you: WE DONT!!!! We have lives, jobs, social lives, and familes!! I have to do homework on the way too and from all of my clubs & appoitments!! That is no way to live!! My brother gets homwork in 6 out of his 7 classes every day!! I mean he has hw in art for pete sakes!!!!! And another thing giving homework over breaks ticks me off!!!!! I mean the point of break in to " take a break" from school. I challange ANY one to give a good reason why that is productive!!!!

10:26 AM, December 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello i'm a junior high student i totally agree with Dr. Helen I do get a lot of homework. I think we shouls ata least not get homework everyday I don't think we should band homework but at least not get homewor 2 times a day! I get piles of homework & don't have time for myself anymore. But not just that but when we get to much homework we struggle and don't remember anything anymore!!

10:22 PM, January 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heloo, I'm a seventeen year old high school senior. I have Tons of homework everyday. And yes, I even have ART HOMEWORK. Im involved in band chorus extra stuff like pep band jazz band, districts in both chorus and band,My schools Drama Club, the junior class plays , the musicals, the yearbook staff, the soocer tem, the track team, the scholastic schrimmage team, and Im in Higher than averagely hard classes[calc., Adv chem & Bio,Phsychology,Cp English(college level) and Computer Tech....IN total my GPA Is 93.887] On top of that, I have a steady job in a restaurant. ........And you have a right to say your son/daughter is Too busy to do their homework? All I see in the entire blog is parents complaining because they've got lazy children.....Responding to an entry ealier in this blog: If your child actually had "100" math problem, and she knows how to do them, then why doesn't your child do them, and get better, and better and better at them? Doing homework (excuse the term i am going to use) POUNDS the subject into our brains...We students strive by accelling in our homework............And if you don't see that at all......well then ignore my entry, because im just experience speaking................

8:50 AM, February 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to make this quick since I am on a homework break!
I have to say that I completely agree with this article. I am a sophomore in high school and I get two-four hours a sleep (on a good night) each night. I have to be in school at 7:15am since class begins at 7:25. The school day ends at 2:47.

When I get home I have to practice 2hrs each night for AP Wind Ensemble (College level wind ensemble) so I can stay on top and succeed.

I have to outline 3 hours worth of AP Euro information, study secondary sources and handouts for Euro, study for the test that is scheduled for that week and write out/ or produce and outline for an upcoming DBQ (Document Based Question), typically there is an essay due as well.

My ceramics class had homework and tests in it as well, the gourmet cooking class that I have as an elective now has projects (non-food related) and homework too!

For Honors English I have three to five (at least 5 paged) essays due each week, poetry and book analysis (typically I have to read three books at a time) as well as other miscellaneous assignments. Our teacher is teaching us from a curriculum or material used at Oxford. I understand that I signed up for a honors English course however nobody mentioned that I would be studying graduate level British Lit material.

Algebra II typically brings 3o-40 multi-step problems each night.

Chemistry brings on packets, lab assessments and tests each week.

Gym brings on the stress of gym projects and tests that are given out weekly. Last year I had to do a study based off of the material that was used in a study at a University. I was a freshman and that was considered normal.

Honors Spanish brings the stress of reading an adult level novel and the expectation that I will be fluent in Spanish by the time May comes.
Add on all the weekend's homework and that is my life, a continuous cycle of stress.

My Mondays are even more hectic, from teaching elementary school kids Spanish to clarinet lessons I start my homework at six in the evening.

At this point I have to take on even more honors and AP courses so I can get accepted into a top college or university, my school has the thought that the higher your GPA is for each class the higher level courses you should take.

My school prides itself on the high acceptance rates of the graduating students.
When going into high school I was immediately told to start my college searching. At this point in my sophomore year I am expected to start touring colleges.
When I see other students around me from neighboring towns I see my peers being able to work hard and play hard. Those students do have work yet they are able to experience what high school life is all about. I find it very sad that I have had that part of my life stolen from me.
The sequestered lifestyle that I live make all of the studying I have to do even worse, I mean I wish I could actually talk to my friends, parents and my brother once in awhile.

I wish I could write more but I can only take a five minute break!
(I took a mandatory typing class in sixth grade so that is why I can type so much in so little time!)

Good Luck to everyone else with all their homework!

3:53 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of you are so whiny... it's no wonder your children are as well. I am a teacher, and I can tell you from experience that the children who have parents who gripe and complain about homework, tests, etc. are the same kids that often have the parents who are only concerned that their children aren't successful when it affects their ability to play a sport or when they might not pass to the next grade.

Blaming the teacher is NOT the way to go. We do all we can with our hands basically tied, but if you teach your child to rail against the machine, that's what we get the entire class period as well. "This is stupid. I don't want to do this. Go ahead and call my dad--he really doesn't care if I do it or not. He said it was dumb, too." Believe it or not, we DO hear this. These are the situations in which, doubtless, when we try to contact a parent, either the number was changed or disconnected and no one bothered to notify the school or no one ever returns the call. If the child is dead set against in- class and at-home work, that parent is NOT the one who comes to Open House and Parent/Teacher Conference night.

I don't assign busy work homework, and I do not like the insinuation that teachers don't do their jobs, and that it is OUR fault your child doesn't want to do his/her work. Look in the mirror, buddy. I had loads of homework when I was in school, too, but my mother supported me, and not ONCE did she do it FOR me. You want to talk about setting your child up for failure: helping is NOT the same as doing it for him/her. And please set a better example: Check your spelling before you submit. It's no wonder your children don't take the time to do work right, either. Examples, people... lead by them.

We love your children, and we love what we do, but it's obvious that we will never do enough to please some of you. It takes a combined home and school effort for a child to succeed, and we can't do it without you. If you don't see that, then maybe you didn't have the home-support system when you were a child. Keep that in mind, please. I am at school about 10 hours a day, and then I grade papers and write lesson plans once I get home... and no, I do NOT get paid to do it. I get paid a salary, which breaks down to an hourly rate. The extra hours I spend each week tutoring your children after school, trying to come up with innovative plans that will teach the lesson while holding the attention of kids who spend 4 hours a night online or playing video games, and taking extra classes and professional development seminars, not to mention the money I spend out of MY pocket for supplies, are things I do for your child... FOR FREE. What do YOU contribute? Think about that the next time you want to blame the teacher because Little Johnny had to spend 45 minutes reading a story and determining what the conflict was.

2:17 PM, July 22, 2007  
Blogger qj said...

I actually am a twelve year old and id have to agree with this. I learn what i need to learn at school and what is not understandable i simply go home to review or go to ask my teacher about it. Homework doesn't help, as it only tells me to do it not HOW to do it. Most of the time . It often ends up frustrating me and causing me to stay up until i can finally figure out what to do. I'm exhausted the next day so i probably won't understand my four new assignments. Anyway, Your article pretty much explains the entire situation. :P

5:41 PM, January 10, 2008  
Blogger Ashley said...

I am a 14 year old, I am currently working on a speech/project about students getting too much homework. It is 11:32 and I am not even half way done with what i was planning on getting done tonight. I take advanced classes, Math and science, so I do expect to have more homework then the average person, but I do about 2-3 hours a night. Two to three hours plus the six and a half hours I spend at school. That is more then a full time job. I am an only child and my parents can't seem to help me with my homework anymore. I stronly beleive that students are overloaded on homework. Not only that, but it seems that it all happens at once. Some weeks kind of fly by and I really done get much more then the regular homework assignments, math science and english, but then the next week I will have a speech, a global studies test, science test, and sometimes a math test as well. Not only does the amount of homework need to be cut down the the 10 minutes per grade level, but teachers need to talk to eachother and space the work out so that students aren't all of a sudden overwealmed with homework, causing stress which can lead to family problems and friend problems. I'm not saying get rid of homework, which I can't deny I would really enjoy, but at least cut down on it. There is a certain point where it isn't helpful anymore, just a burden. I beleive its too much of a good thing.

12:45 AM, January 14, 2008  
Blogger Vinny said...

I am a 15 year old in ninth grade and I completely can relate and agree to the last commenter, Ashley. Usually because of quantity, the main overview of the homework is ignored by the student—to learn new things. Though homework apparently is vital learning process, it takes time away from the simple joys of being a teenager, seeing that the teen years are some of the most social times of our life.
were not going to be spending every weekend with our buddies when were adults with full time jobs. my freshman project is centered around the effects of homework on teens, and I thank all of you for you comments and feedback on this contriversal topic. One solution, that wouldnt hurt to spread, is one that I researched: select middle schools in the US changed the schedules so they were shifted 2 or so hours foward. this accomidated with the teens "biological schedule" and let them have more energy to focus during school hours. So homework wasnt cut down, but the students had more sleep each night to have a fresh mind to learn. Whats the point of learnig if your half asleep right? And myself; being in the school Jazz Band, I wake up at 5:30 usually after going to bed at 11:00 or midnight because of homework. but enough of my complaining, I'm just glad there's people out there who arent as oblivious to teen stress as teachers, and can recognize this topic. thank you for reading this and I hope someone out there with authority will take initiative within my life time for the future of my kids and theirs all of America's youth.

9:12 PM, March 04, 2008  
Blogger jossyschmossy said...

DUDE! I'm a freshman in highschool, and I would kill for the amount of homework some of you are complaining. It is currently 4:00 in the morning and I am almost done my homework. I came straight home after school and the only breaks I have taken were to eat dinner, shower and 5 minutes here. I have to go to school for 7 hours everyday, and spend an average of 8 hours doing homework. I am a fast worker and do not procrastinate. Nor do I get easily distracted. Since I am enrolled in all honors and AP classes at school, the amount of homework we get is horrendous. Individually, my teachers believe that 1 to 2 hours of homework is quite reasonable. However, they fail to realize that I must take 6 classes besides their own. So in reality, its their 1 to 2 hours MULTIPLIED by 7. Yeah... this whole year, my friends and I (in the same classes) have kept sleep logs and our average amount of sleep per day is about 4 hours (this includes weekends). If anything PLEASE make sure that kids get the chance to be kids while they can. I never got that oppurtunity since my parents were quite obsessed with making me do as much math piano, and sports as possible when I was in elementary school and early middle school. All I can say is: A) I CANNOT wait for summer break, and B) I hope college is a breeze compared to this crapload of stuff I have to do this year. Well, time for me to do French hw, the 5 minutes is up.

5:10 AM, April 08, 2008  
Blogger thornyrose said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:15 AM, September 01, 2008  
Blogger thornyrose said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:16 AM, September 01, 2008  
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