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Monday, October 7, 2013

Do Kids Have Too Much Homework?

(Daniel Go/Flickr)

(Daniel Go/Flickr)

Journalist Karl Taro Greenfeld is well-known for his reporting on Asia. However, in a recent article in The Atlantic, Greenfeld wrote about the experience of doing his daughter’s homework for one week.

He was alarmed by how much homework she was being assigned, and gave himself the challenge of doing the assignments alongside her. He found it incredibly difficult, as the headline of his piece suggests: “My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me.”

Greenfeld joins Here & Now to discuss his article, and the reaction to it.

Interview Highlights: Karl Taro Greenfeld

Interesting but unreasonable

“The takeaway from it, for one thing, there is an awful lot of homework. And the content of that homework varies very widely from stuff that is very thought-provoking, that I found interesting and challenging, to stuff that seems a lot more like busywork that is very difficult to get done in a reasonable amount of time.”

Memorization versus comprehension

“We were doing earth sciences and she had written down some notes that I found incomprehensible. So I asked her…‘What does this actually mean?’ and she looked at me and said, ‘memorization not rationalization, dad.’ And I think a lot of kids face this, is that their time is so crunched, they just have to choose and triage and say ‘You know what? When it comes to this subject, I’m going to memorize, I’m going to understand just enough to get through it, and that’s good enough.’ In Spanish class, especially, she decided ‘You know what? I’m just going to understand enough to get through these tests. I’m going to use Google Translate…to get through a lot of my homework, and that is just what that’s going to be.’”

A strong curriculum

“It was a really impressive curriculum, and if she could somehow take aboard all that material, she would emerge a very well-rounded and interesting person. So on the one hand, I fault them for the, what I consider sometimes, an excessive workload. On the other hand, I have to give credit in saying ‘these people are really trying their best to mold interesting and intelligent people.’”


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  • Matthew Liscomb

    I went back to school as an adult in my 40s. It was this time around I realized that the massive volume of processing information in homework and study is a huge waste since you “study to get by/get the grade” and then months later it’s all lost memory wise. It’s very inefficient, a waste of time and intellectual development. The system badly needs an overhaul!

    • Lee

      I am also a student in my 40s. English is not my first language so I struggled in English and History in the first semester, but I got A’s for English and B+ for World History. My grades now are A’s. I learned from a Psych class that if we read only one time, it would go in our short term memory and will fade soon. If we read it again the second time, and a third time (even better).. it will stay in our long term memory. I don’t go back to school only to get by/get the grade. I can’t afford to waste my time and efforts. on a note, I had to help my classmates in Statistic class as most of them were playing on their phones under the desk while the professor giving the lecture.

  • NotSureHowToFeel

    On one hand I feel that kids today have it too easy: I’ve had friends tell me that they’ve seen kids using calculators for math as early as 3rd grade. Not to mention the excessive use of smart phones for wasting time.

    On the other hand I feel that kids are getting shafted: our governing officials continue to slice school budgets (resulting in larger class sizes, less school programs, less teachers, etc.), all the while touting how important education is, and how we as a nation must keep up.

    The most busiest time of my high school career was taking 4 AP classes in conjunction with 2 college classes (the teachers were professors from a local community college.) What I found to be most helpful was to -not- procrastinate. To do so would mean burning the late night candle.

  • Clint Whitlow

    OMG my wife and I have been talking about this
    For 15 years here in Greensboro NC!!! We have four kids the oldest is 20at UNC Chapel Hill
    Youngest is 10 and four years between each and boy have the homework loads changed over the years! More and more and more!!! Our Son just entered 6th grade and his homework is killing me!!! Some kids can handle it and others it’s just too much!!! Every child is different one size does not fit all!!!

    • what’samothertodo

      I have two boys, 11 (6th gr) and 13 (8th gr). oldest gets good grades and barely studies or comes home with homework. younger son has reading disabilities, gets a lot of homework and refuses to do any of it. his grades are terrible. they are terrible only because he doesn’t turn in homework. if he had no homework, he would be an average student. so what does a mother do?

      • Meee

        Try counseling, or a learning program like sylvan.

  • rj steele

    I wish you would have explored a point promised in your intro, those of us worried about not having enough homework amid the constant drumbeat of stories like this one. my daughter in public school has no homework most days and sometimes up to an hour. I am worried she is being let down, but that is much harder to determine, in the absence of material to assess, than to look at too much work and say it’s too much.

    • spotter

      I’m wondering what grade your child is in? I think age appropriateness of homework is a huge factor.

  • Amy

    Third grade homework is two hours per night many nights and it is interfering with my son having time to play outside and get a good nights sleep. It’s awful.

  • Mary

    As a retired principal our homework policy was it must be independent work . I foster the formula of 10 minutes per grade level. Not every child goes home to parents who can help. If the child does no understand write the teacher a note to research or explain.

  • Ellen McIntyre

    Ask any decent musician how they got there? PRACTICE! Sometimes the rote memorization of things like multiplication tables and science or grammar is necessary in order for students to have the tools ready at hand to move to a more advanced level. This requires practice for the information to reach long term memory. The key is to find balance of the amount and relevancy of the work along with addressing learning styles.

    • Emilie

      I found this is especially true when we work in the industry later on. When we had to deal with incredible amount of work for deadline-sensitive projects, which also require precision and accuracy, e.g. in the fields of science, engineering, industry, and statistics, those who had extensive trainings were always the ones who stood out from the crowd.

  • Deb

    I really think that the issue is the quality of homework and the curriculum the schools use. When my son was in 3rd grade, he did not get any basic multiplication homework until the end of Nov. Then after I complained, he had basic division homework only for the last three weeks of third grade. The curriculum the school uses is a nationally recognized one that is supposed to be “evidence-based.”

    Too much time on homework is bad for kids who need to be doing other activities too. Too little homework will not reinforce what they need to learn and to learn good study habits.

  • Mziccardi

    My boys, 7th and 8th grade, both in all AP classes have at most a couple of hours of homework a night. Why isn’t there more discussion of extending the school year, hiring more teachers, and paying them more? Wouldn’t that give us more ability to avoid the rote stuff and give them time to focus on more thoughtful processing of the information?

    • guest

      The crisis that ruined our schools was the elimination of grouping students of like kinds together. Students are not the same and do NOT have the same abilities; therefore, they should not be in the same classrooms interrupting each other. AP classes are not blended with learning disabled classes! What is going on with this sort of stupidity? Ruin everyone’s education?

      That’s what our scores say on the WORLD stage. Is anyone listening?
      BTW: in the 60s we had about 3 hours of homework per evening but NO SPORTS except for the weekend. Back then, we walked 3 miles to school and 3 miles home AND no one was FAT.

    • susanpub

      What?! Spend money on educating our children? You must not live in Oklahoma.
      You’re right, of course.

  • medwards

    I have 2 boys, one 13 and one 10. The amount of increasing homework and the decreasing amount of time for extracurricular activities is disturbing. The average amount of homework per night for my 13 year old is 3+ hours. There is no correlation between increased homework and better test scores. This is just a fact.
    Ask yourself this question. How much homework did you have in Middle School? I’m 45 and never, ever had the copious amounts of homework that my sons have currently. My test scores were better than average and I think that I turned out pretty good. I was also able to play 3 sports in high school and work so I could actually pay for the fun things that I was able to do (which my son sometimes misses out on because he is swamped).
    My 13 year old is bright and gets very good grades. He is fortunate enough to be able to understand the concepts that are presented most of the time. I can only imagine for those kids with learning disablities and other life obstacles that the hours of homework can only be seen as punative and very frustrating.
    I am not saying that our kids shouldn’t be challenged. They absolutely should and it shouldn’t be easy. That’s not reality. What has to happen is that schools/teachers need to communicate with each other, eliminate busy work and figure out how much homework is really going to make a difference.

  • Gula

    Too much indoctrination by what the “State” wants.
    When will people take back their children?
    Is this why you had children in the first place?
    So Big Brother can shape their minds. I’m sure glad I home schooled my children years ago. At least they are “free-thinkers” and also free of debt in the consumer-waste society called America.
    Wake up people.

    A certain percentage of children have the habit of thinking. One of the aims of education is to cure them of that habit. Mark Twain.

    • susanpub

      Love the Twain quote! That’s beautiful. And the sad truth.

  • Cal

    Yes! Too much!
    I believe there is value in homework but in reasonable amounts
    There is also research to suggest there is limited benefit to homework,
    particularly for children who are in grades lower than high school.

    Homework should provide reinforcement and be useful, it should not be the means by which a topic is primarily taught nor meaningless busy work. A lot of classroom time seems to be wasted and then homework is used to make up for that. Teachers also need to make classroom time more engaging which encourages students to be excited about a subject and to be more motivated to learn more (I.e. homework would be less onerous).

    My son has 2-4 hours of homework per night – after sitting through classes for 6 hours a day. He is frequently stressed and sleep-deprived because of homework. This is inappropriate for a 13 year old.
    Just because as adults we spend that much time working, it doesn’t mean that it’s
    right for kids.
    I’m saying this as a high achieving, type A person —- Kids need time to be kids!

  • adks12020

    Well, I’m guessing things must be different than they were when I was in high school (1996-2000). I never had a huge amount of homework. I had work to do every night but never so much that it was a problem for me to complete it and I played sports in every season; I’d say on average I had about an hour a night of work to do. I’m sure the same work took some people more time and some less though. I don’t think piling on homework ever helped anyone. Its more about quality than quantity. Good teaching and a reasonable amount of homework to reinforce what was taught is all that’s needed. If too much work is assigned it becomes more about just getting it done than actually learning and retaining anything. That is pointless.

  • gdeangel

    I find it somewhat misleading to base a piece on “trends in US homework” on a case study from a NYC exam school. What many parents from other parts of the US don’t realize is that these schools don’t just churn out graduates who are skipping freshman math 101 when they get to college. These are schools whose graduates skip the entire series of undergrad courses and be granted admission to graduate level courses.

    My children attended public school in Ohio. Although they definitely had more “homework” in kindergarten – stuff like reading and writing letters with mom and dad – than you might expect, once they got past foundational work, there was about 5 to 15 minutes of homework per night average. Now they attend a secular private school with a reputation for giving lots of homework. The teachers still attempt to adjust the workload to average 1 hour per night. Some work that is “out there”, like writing a historical fiction short story, can take my daughter much longer, but part of what it teaches her is time and resource management – things that will be more helpful to her in college than the actual school work itself.

    And there is still time for her to do other structured extracurricular activities like music and soccer. What has been lost, however, is unstructured time that used to be a hallmark of American childhood – in the 70s playing outside in the neighborhood, in the 80s tuning in to the 2-hour after school cartoon block, or in the 90s playing video games in the basement “before mom gets home”. With neighborhoods being unsafe for unsupervised play, cable running 24×7 cartoons, and leading video game titles being produced for “R” audiences, I’d say the system has adapted and is working relatively well.

    • susanpub

      I think many teachers assign homework as if they were the only teacher your child has.

  • Ben tarpley

    George Carlin said what many of us are thinking.

    “Life gets really simple once you cut out all the bull sh*t they teach you in school.”

  • dalewh

    It’s not really the quantity that matters, it’s the quality. i.e. off the cuff math homework assignments, “..do the odd numbered problems in the back of the book.” should be replaced by more intelligent criteria based on the actual points being made. Rote learning is past its prime given the quantity and sophistication of the material that needs to be gone over. Doing problems that illustrate 14 different permutations of the subject is not a useful use of the allocated homework time. Cherry-picking the 4 or 5 problems best illustrating the subject is much more valuable. Another issue that needs to be addressed is the quality of the book. I have found, in helping my 5 kids with their HW, that the book really doesn’t stand alone in presenting the topic. Why can’t I with my 3 degrees, find the framework to do the problems in the chapter?

  • Rabbit

    Yes, there is way too much homework. I’ve complained before but the teachers just say that they’re allowed to give that much. They seem to have no idea how brain tired kids are after all day at school, and they just need to have some play time. My youngest son is in school from 8am-3pm, he shouldn’t have to come home and do hours more of school work. And I’m talking elementary school here, they either know the work or they don’t. I don’t see the need for homework AT ALL in elementary school. The kids need the time to run and play and have time for their own interests.

    • susanpub

      You have to wonder if these teachers’ children are spending the same amount of time on homework. Why are they so seemingly clueless?

  • Barbara Witman

    Just wait until 11th grade! My son regularly had 8 hours of homework every night, and over 20 hours on the weekends. It was absolute torture for the entire family. When we complained, we were told he just wasn’t using his time wisely. The truth is, teachers were pushing the teaching function onto parents because they didn’t “have enough classroom time” Yet, they wasted lots of classroom time in frivolous activities and talking about their private lives. His English teacher showed a 50-minute power point presentation to every class when she returned from her maternity leave, including many, many photos of her new little one, but nothing academic or pertaining to their classwork!

  • MJM

    I think a large part of the problem is that we have “educated” our children with years of television where the context is to ridicule “nerds” and other people that display any intelligence whatsoever. This phenomena is pervasive from news to cartoons. How can any schooling possibly overcome this insidious brain-washing ?

    • susanpub

      Hooray for nerds!

  • Amara

    I have been saying for years that the kids have too much homework and most times they don’t understand it because the teacher hasn’t even gone over the information or just skimmed over it. I can’t even tell you how many times my children have asked me for help and we’ve had to use google to answer the questions. Now my children’s school wants the band teacher to give them written homework. Homework is BUSY work. Don’t get me started on the Science Fair because that’s another monster all together.

  • Heather Youngs

    I totally agree. Homework has been a constant source of misery between me and my son and both of us and his teachers. It is too much and receives too much emphasis. Karl’s article was spot-on! I loved school but not like this. I told one of my son’s teachers that I’d break my pencil in half if I had to do his workload. It makes me angry that the system has turned a once-bright-eyed first grader who couldn’t wait to go to school into a sullen kid who can’t stand it. For both of us, homework epitomizes a complete failure to prioritize the joy of learning. It sucks up all our evening time so that we can’t do other things. We’ve been trying to schedule a lego night forever. It always gets pre-empted by another hour of chapter notes. Angry. Sad. Defeated. My son has learned to drudge or fail.

  • http://goinglikesixty.com GoingLikeSixty

    Kahn Academy has it right. Watch videos of the subject at home and do problem solving in the classroom with the guidance of the teacher.

  • Melissa

    I have just started to encounter this with my 4 yr old son who is in preschool. Yes, they are assigning homework in PRESCHOOL. I think this is totally inappropriate developmentally. Especially since they are mostly writing and coloring worksheets. My son has very little interest in drawing or coloring right now, so it is often a battle to get him to do it. This is going to develop quickly into hating school and learning. We have taken the approach of reinforcing his learning through play and reading and if he happens to be in the mood to do his homework, great. If not, we aren’t pushing it. At this age, the goal is to foster a love for learning and to learn how to be in a classroom setting and get along with others. I have no fears that he will not learn to read or write. Author Alfie Kohn has a lot to say about this issue and points out that the only conclusive evidence about homework is that it tends to do more harm (especially with family dynamics) than good.

  • Emilie

    My kid, a 6th grader, only spent 10mins for hwk every day. The response we got was always because the homework was too easy. I had to assign additional homework and pay for afterschool academic program.

    Should we divide the students into different groups base on their academic performance since early on, say JH or HS? The school may offer different curricula to each group.

    Boston Latin requires entrance exam. Since Karl covers many stories in Aisa, he might know that the same principle has been applied in China for many years. The college acceptance rates at the tier one HS/JH were almost always 100% with 20-30% of students going to top-tier colleges. the tier 2 HS/JH had roughly around 60% college acceptance, while the regular regional HS only reached about 10-20%.

    Each year the school could re-evaluate the students’ performance and re-group them.

    Any thoughts on that?

  • Wendy

    After adults put in an 8-hour workday, few would expect them to go home and put in another 5 to 6 hours of work at home, yet this is exactly what we expect our children to do. Academics and intelligence are two different things and I think, as a society, we get so caught up in test scores that we tend to forget that. There is an unlimited number of interesting experiences that could support the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth of our children (e.g., playing an instrument, reading a great book, taking a dance class, spending time with family) but there is often little time for children to follow their interests or passions because that time is spent doing homework.

    My oldest is now a college graduate. Last week, she sent me the link to the article in the Atlantic telling me that her high school homework situation was very similar. She was stressed, didn’t have time to socialize much with friends or family, and rarely could get a full-night’s rest. After graduation, she received an Ivy League college education but that, oddly enough, was actually the result of the interesting experiences she had time to pursue for the nine years of homeschooling she did before attending high school.

    Schools unfairly dictate the lives of students and families. Homework usurps a student’s time yet research has yet to show that the benefit is worth the cost? We need to trust our kids and give them the time and space they need to chose experiences that are authentic and meaningful to them, experiences that might not only promote academic success, but also would support a young person’s overall developmental growth, education, and well-being.

  • Jan M

    Hi – I agree kids have too much homework. We need to face facts: we need shorter summer vacations 6 or 8 weeks instead of 12, and longer school days from 8-4. This will affect school sports but if ALL the schools adjust, one team won’t have an advantage over others. The school sports programs need reform, too.

  • lou

    Yes!! Kids have way too much home work! It’s taking over their and their parent lives trying to help them complete it. Teachers seem to think that their class is the only on the student has. My child is up till 2 or 3am in the morning doing homework, & sometimes never gets to bed.

    • Djgp

      I truly agree with your point. I am in the 6th grade and the amount of homework simply UNBELIEVABLE. Especially when the topic I am completing is very difficult to understand and there is a lot of it. I usually go to bed 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. My teachers are complaining how I am always looking like a mummy and my mom complains how I “spend too much time on on my assignments. I believe not.
      One day my classmates and I had to do a 2-3 page essay on a topic (which I do not remember). It was due the next day. Almost half of the students complained how they did not have time to finish the assignment. Everyone went to sleep very late.
      Sometimes when this occurs I often tell myself that I have to just deal with it. However, how can I deal with some material when it is simply depriving me of my humanity? It is unreasonable, and not at almost all levels inefficient.

  • susie d

    A good movie on this topic is “race to nowhere”. It is a great documentary about stress and kids in school.

  • Suzi

    Kids need to practice certain concepts at home, like multiplication tables, but I believe they should engage in deliberate practice of most skills at school with their teachers at hand. When my children are at home they should be engaged with the family, learning how to run a household, pursuing personal interests (sports, art, music), and recreating. Well rounded people know how to study, but they also know how to think deeply, do their own laundry and navigate a conflict.
    My oldest suffered through multiple hours of homework in middle school. Much of that homework was mindless busy work. It was torture for the whole family. We had tears almost every night. She now goes to a high school where she is getting an amazing education with a small fraction of the homework. Life is better this way.

  • EB

    There does seem to be a lot of homework. I think our educational system does need to be changed. We need to get off the agrarian calendar and have a school calendar more like the Europeans, longer breaks but a much shorter summer break. Throughout my kids schooling most of September and part of October is just review of what was taught at the end of the previous year. What a waste of time and money. The summer brain drain also increases the learning gap between rich and poor.

  • Romulus

    My wife is a teacher and I must say that, yes, the homework load is extremely excessive. But I must also say that with all the recent budget cuts and many teachers losing their jobs, the workload placed on teachers is extremely excessive as well. Every year, more and more material is expected to be covered in the same amount of time. It is as the story said: almost all memorization with almost no in-depth learning. Teachers have no time to keep up with the demand placed on them just as students have no time to keep up with the demands placed on them. The problem isn’t the students or even the teachers. The problem lies in the unrealistic demands placed on teachers AND students by laws such as No Child Left Behind. These policies may have been set in place with the best of intentions, but in practicality, they are very poorly executed and do almost nothing but raise levels of stress, tension and anxiety in students and educators alike, leading to a poor learning environment and even poorer learning experience.

  • Zanaya

    Children have way too much homework! This is effecting childrens quality of life. I do not understand parents who want there children to have more homework. I have three children and k-3 grade and homework consumes our after school time. This year we can not sighn up for any after school activities because of the volume of homework.

    I also have one child who is an advanced leaner and one who is below level and the homework is a great stress for both. Teachers have told me that they do not like the amount of homework and do not agree, but give it any way. It is all to support the crazy amount of test. I really think parents need to make the decision that enough is enough!

    • Duane_Dibbley

      I seems like you didn’t get enough English grammar homework when you were a kid…

      • Zanaya

        Maybe you should keep your negative comments to yourself.

  • Samantha

    I think kids have too much busy work that feeds into our country’s teaching-to-test system & not enough relevant homework that helps them learn develop higher level critical thinking skills that will help them learn the material, not just memorize it until the test.

  • Colet Bartow

    This truly is a hot topic–homework tears were shed in my household just last night–and not just by my son. I’m compelled to post a comment because I think we’re focused on the wrong question. It isn’t the amount of homework that is at issue–I’m more concerned about the quality of the homework and what students get for their effort. 5 hours of memorization, or skimming the surface of content and concepts, doesn’t produce the types of results that encourage students to think and communicate effectively about what they are learning. Parents can’t hope to help their kids succeed if learning expectations for homework aren’t clearly communicated to students and those who want to help them. If anything, homework should provide the opportunity for kids to share what they have learned and reflect on it with parents or friends. Quality over quantity, please.

  • Ann Evans

    All this homework is utter rubbish. And if kids can just “bing” or “google” answers, what’s the point anyway? I personally know of some parents who actually do their kids’ assignments or even repurpose the old papers/works of their older kids for their younger children. Talk about cheating. I think homework should be review of the days work no more than 20-30 minutes per subject. Kids need downtime to think and absorb and rest. When people sleep is when their brains integrate what they have learned.

    It strikes me very odd (as a immigrant who was educated here and abroad) that in the US, a country that has produced some of the most brilliant and innovative people on the planet, can’t strike a sensible balance in education. I think what the Finns are doing is great: EQUALITY.

    Post Brown v. Brown, we’ve just found new ways to be separate and unequal.

    And it sure doesn’t help when we are still arguing over evolution and creationism.

  • Bannerpilot

    My wife and I are both public school teachers. Neither of us are advocates of homework for homework’s sake. If there is practice to be done grasping a concept or polishing a skill, assign some practice. If not, don’t.
    Our son goes to a Montessori school with little to no homework (yes, blasphemy). One Saturday morning last year he was sitting in on my wife’s AP English (public school) practice AP test when jokingly challenged by an A.P.E. to give the multiple choice part a shot. Despite never having seen a scantron answer sheet in his life, he said yes. Roughly extrapolated, he scored an approximate three on the M.C. portion. Now, I’d like to think my son is brilliant, but it’s most likely due to the process of Montessori education. It has nothing to do with homework.
    Homework has become yet another political football in the game of education. A game currently run by folks who don’t have much experience with the actual practice of teaching. As Mark Twain is oft quoted; “It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you. It’s what you think you know that ain’t so.”

    • Bannerpilot

      PS; My son was 11 when he took the test…

  • Rainbow Rosenbloom

    The discussion of homework must consider the following:
    1) The age/grade of the student
    2) The subject
    3) The amount of time and/or the amount of work expected

    In addition to the above, the reasons for the homework must be considered:
    1) Expose student to new content
    2) To practice important skills (e.g. math, reading, etc.)

    3) To build study habits and resolve
    4) To create curiosity and interest

    When homework is discussed too generally, we lose an opportunity to fully examine the issue. We must also ask what is accomplished with 7 hours a day of face time in schools. And finally, we must recognize that teachers are the most important aspect in this discussion. IF they have the freedom to create the assignments, then they should reflect upon the points raised prior to giving homework. Good teachers will bring an important balance to assignments, recognizing the appropriate amount of time for a particular age to spend on practice, without losing an opportunity to inspire with assignments engaging new material imaginatively. And excellent teachers will do that AND understand the importance of family time, social interaction, free imaginative wandering, hobby development…..finding a way to weave these important aspects of life with the learning community they are establishing in the classroom.

  • Steve Goldberg

    It’s a question of quality rather than quantity. If students are truly engaged in the work they are doing (yes, it’s possible), then several hours of homework would not be a bad thing — though that would be an excessive amount of work every night. Yes, there will be some drudgery, as in learning vocabulary words that are necessary for higher level thinking — but let’s look closely at what students are doing so that there’s a low busywork to exciting engaging work ratio. At the middle school I’m opening next fall — tlcmiddle.com — students will assign themselves individualized homework before they leave for the day — and will articulate the rationale for what they’re doing — it’s the antidote to busywork.

  • guest

    The true crime is lumping all kids together, as if they have the same abilities. This results in creating charter schools or whatever private school that can balance the classrooms to the students. Same talents; same group.

    oH YES, I hear some yelling but look at how their yelling keeps lowering the standards.

  • Ron Redburn

    Timely. My daughter turned in her 7th grade logic class persuasive speech on Friday Oct 4, 2013. The text follows:

    Hello, my name is Nika Redburn. Do you think that too much of your time is spent doing homework? Well, I do. I go to Basis Phoenix which is among the best
    schools in the world. At this school I have an average of four hours of homework each night. I argue that schools should give less homework

    From a family point of view school work takes away from spending time
    with the family. Some children can’t spend an evening with their family because they are so crammed with homework. On top of that parents expect their children to get high grades. For instance, if my mom ever saw I had lower than a B, she would ban me from nonacademic activities. My survey shows 23 out of 25 students agree that schools should give less coursework.

    Children spend so much of their time doing these after school studies they don’t have time to play sports, get there chores done or just have fun. They do not have time to be children. Granted all of this, I do play sports but I suffer the consequences with loss of sleep. Most children are not able to study or learn as well during long period of study time thus somewhat defeating the intended purpose. Furthermore, according to the National Education Association teachers should assign no more than 10 minutes per grade level. In Finland, students will rarely
    get homework until their teen years and scores from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests reveal superior grades when compared across Europe and the US.

    Likewise, these overloads and assignment result in lack of sleep and focus, joined by an increase in stress. In my personal experience I wake up at 6:30 A.M. and go to sleep at 11:30 P.M. That amounts to only 7 hours of sleep when school aged children need 10-12 hours of sleep each night for proper growth and development. Although schools in the United States have homework, schools in Finland do not. They achieve a graduation rate of 93% percent as we have a rate of 75%.

    Some will argue that homework teaches responsibility but there are other ways of teaching responsibility such as doing chores at home if a student’s personal time
    schedule was not compromised by an overabundance of homework.

    School should assign less school work because it causes stress and pressure on the students. It also takes up time for social and sport like activities. All in all, less
    homework would result in a better outcome for the children.

  • susanpub

    Have all of you parents expressed these concerns to your principals and superintendents? What have their replies been?

    I went to a private school & we had what was thought to be a lot of homework. I don’t have children, so I can’t make a comparison to today’s homework load, but I suspect I would be horrified by the amount given today even compared to what I did decades ago.

    And are our children better educated today? If they are overloaded with work, they won’t retain much of what they stuff in & haven’t really learned it. Sounds like more of “teach to the test.”

  • kyra lehman

    I am a sophomore taking honors classes and I feel like I am getting exactly enough homework to to little homework.
    I believe the reason for a lot of home work is that there is a few students who don not do the homework or classwork that is assigned to them then in class the next day there is a chorus of “I Don’t get it” from a lot of these students This tells the teacher that the class dose not get it leading to them being behind in the curriculum which in turn leads to more homework. In my honors classes we work in class instead of socializing and not paying any attention at all and work gets done in class so less home work. In my mixed classes people talk the whole time so not all students can hear meaning the teachers have to repeat themselves over and over again. This leads to assigning things right before the bell so you have to do everything at home.

    • Lee

      Great job Kyra!! I am so glad to hear this from young people in this country. Those who are not paying attention in class and cry out for having too much home work will not be able to compete with you when you are in the work field. I have a thirteen year old and a nine year old. My husband give both of them additional Math problems at home every night. They both also play at least 2 instruments with 20 min practice a day. We tell them that it might be difficult now, but it will get easier every time. Keep up the good work there!

  • StevenHB

    My daughters are older now, but I really resented homework assignments that didn’t so much require my assistance as they seemed designed from the outset as family projects. I am not the student – my daughter is. Homework should be reasonably completable by her, with the occasional and infrequent help from one or both of her parents.

  • Lauren

    WAY too much homework. See: the Myth of Homework: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alphi Kohn.

  • Jane Worthington

    Students definitely have too much homework. Getting it all done is the hardest part. Last Thanksgiving, my daughter’s calculus exam was making us all upset – she was stressed, completely upset for the whole holiday. A peer and parent at my country club told me she’d had the same problem with her son, and used onlineclasshelp.com to get the grade her child needed for the prerequisite. I was hesitant at first, but I called them directly and spoke to a very helpful gentleman named Paul, who arranged to help her make an A. Her GPA was good, and Thanksgiving was saved. What a relief.

    Teachers complain about getting help outside of class for students, but if they actually did their own homework, it wouldn’t be a problem. This is short-term solution for a long-term problem, but I know there are other parents like me out there, dealing with late nights and crying, sleep-deprived students. Their number is 1(855) GET-HW-DONE.

    This wouldn’t have to happen, of course, if teachers were more reasonable about the probative value of their work. If their course-load were comparable to the intellectual value of Harvard Law, I’d thank them for keeping my kids so busy and even sleep deprived. But for “memorize not rationalize,” I have to ask, what are we paying these so-called professionals for? That’s not what Europe teaches their students, so how can we expect the same results with incomparable, mediocre teaching methods?

  • Ann

    This phenomenon varies by school district and is more apparent in affluent communities. As a college advisor, I work with students from urban and rural school districts who are grossly underprepared for college-level work. When they inevitably struggle with college-level academics, they reflect to me that they had little to no homework in high school causing a very difficult transition to a demanding course load that requires much more independent work.. So, like all aspects of education in the U.S., “too much homework” is not an across-the-board issue.

  • ElliFrank

    Thank you, Karl Taro Greenfeld! Your Atlantic article was terrific, and I’m glad Here & Now interviewed you. My middle school daughter is drowning in largely meaningless but excessive amounts of homework, given five nights/week, plus weekend assignments, too. This has forced her to drop swim team, music, reading for pleasure, the creative writing she used to love to do independently, and time with friends except when in school. Since September, I’ve observed her and her classmates becoming paler and more exhausted, stressed, and depressed with each passing day, and it’s only October. Very disturbing… (And yes, I’ve protested with other parents to no avail.)

  • JustRevolt

    So many parents are saying that their kids get too much homework. Well what would happen if they just told their kids’ school that they’re only going to work on homework for X number of hours a night and whatever doesn’t get finished, doesn’t get done. If parents are really so concerned about how much homework their kids have, why don’t they just revolt. Sure, you can ask your school to assign less homework, but if they don’t, get together with other parents and just decide that family time is too important and tell the school that your kid is only doing a certain amount. What are they going to do if a huge portion of parents in the school band together like that? They’re not going to fail a giant portion of the students because it looks too bad for the school’s statistics.

  • Missy

    What might be a reasonable compromise is if homework could be somehow coordinated between subjects. This is no easy feat, but with the Core Curriculum having been rolled out recently, not impossible. Perhaps homework levels are out of control (this argument is cyclical—I recall hearing this complaint in the ’90s), but students don’t always even attempt a small amount of the homework. As each decade passes, there’s even more to teach and learn—and having computers in every classroom and home is not going to solve the problem of getting through the curriculum thoroughly. There is almost no time to review in class, or at least this is what has been observed by both teachers and administrators. It’s a challenge, but success and all that comes with it was never said to be a piece of cake. You have to work at it, sometimes extremely hard.

    On the other hand, I’m deeply dismayed at an increased lack of extra-curricular activities, as well as at the defunding of the arts and sports. Having a lot of homework certainly interferes with after-school activities somewhat, though it’s not the cause by itself. This may be one of the reasons young people feel so overwhelmed—there’s no respite from “school overload”. It seems that we might be turning our country’s children and youth into a group of numbed thumb jockeys who at the end if the day will not be able to effectively compete on a global stage—not because they’re not smart enough per se, but because they haven’t “lived” enough.

  • Student Who Rarely Feels Happy

    I believe there IS too much homework. I mean, they should lessen the amount of homework they give me. School is about learning, and learning is to understand, not memorize. They just constantly shove homework up my throat and make me choke on it. Sometimes, they give entire research papers or long stories or whatever to write in-hmm…lemme see…uhp, 5 hours. Giving too much causes stress and apathy in the student/me/you, and you might never see your friends that day. Rarely do I get fun homework. One of them was where I studied a TV episode of a sitcom (I chose crime-drama show) and made a plotline for it. It was more fun than just sitting in one chair for the rest of the day before I go to bed.

  • Caeb


  • Mike

    I am in 9th grade I am the starting varsity QB and play on a vey high level Aau basketball team and have baseball training every Saturday. I am also a straight a student and am taking the highest difficulty classes you can (all honors). After football practice which ends around 6 I go to the YMCA for round an hour and lift. Then I get home shower, eat dinner and watch film with my dad who played college football for 45 mins every day. So then it’s about 8 to 8:45 and I starts my homework which takes about 3 hours when I add in the studying so I end up not going to bed till 11 something. And honestly I feel like the homework barely helps me because I normally understand the material in class. I think it would make more sense to just have optional homework and if certain students are struggling the teacher can make it mandatory for the,.

  • K.M.

    I’m a junior in high school, and while I find homework to be absolutely necessary, there is just far too much of it. So much so, that, in some ways, it inhibits my learning. One, because there is so much homework, I don’t have the time to explore the things I want to explore (I’m currently interested in chemistry/biochemistry), two, due to the fact that I have to do so much of it, homework makes learning not fun, and three, with all of the homework I have, there are conflicts between the different courses I take, resulting in limited study time. Although I realize that when I get home there are over 12 hours before the next school day starts, meaning plenty of time for me to get all my homework and studying finished, I’d rather have more than just 5 hours of sleep each night. With the loads of homework and studying I must do (I stress the “must”), I become lazy and unmotivated. I just wish I could have fun and live a little before I’m done growing up… I’m tired. I’m just so tired…

  • Breanna

    I’m in 10th grade. I’m in the french immersion program and my school uses technology for everything. I get 2-3 projects due a week per class (I have 4 classes, no optionals). I get 2 hours of homework per class, not including reviewing the lessons. and I work pretty quickly. I have a science test every week, and an exam every 4 weeks. Usually, we have so much homework that we can’t get anything done after reviewing it in class. We use school websites to learn most of the curriculum after school. I spend all my lunch working, and still I don’t have time to sleep some nights. I don’t do any extracurriculars, only do volunteering during the summer, and only hang out with my friends on saturdays. And I’m still only getting an 85% average. Teachers definitely give too much homework.

  • Dave

    People here are complaining about 3-4 hours of homework a night. I think that is a reasonable amount for a highschool student. My daughter is in 9th grade, does 7-8 hours of homework a night, anywhere from 10-15 hours of homework over the weekend. She’s not a procrastinator…I check up on her periodically. She manages to handle the homework load and gets straight As, all while having a few hours to spend with her friends over the weekend, go to the gym, and go to a few extra-curriculars. I think the homework is definitely too much, and I hate that none of the teachers at her school actually teach anything (they assigned textbook reading as homework and do “activities” in school), but if she can handle it, anyone can handle up to 4 hours of homework. Beyond that is excessive.

    • Gwendle

      The national standard for High Schoolers is no more than two hours a night. At that point, the students hit diminishing returns. Get ready for your daughter to crash spectacularly.

  • cat

    I think kids get a lot of homework because teachers have all gone insane. Kids don’t need to have extra homework and the truth is that the only reason kids don’t get there stuff is because they don’t pay attention.

  • sean

    yess too much

  • http://www.boomerangreview.com/ best writing service review

    I guess this only shows that an home-works for every students will be more prioritize when having their study. From the photos and content I have seen that this too much home-works for him. Well its for the goods then he must do his part as a student.

  • Jesscia

    Yeah! We do! and I play sports, and do other crap, I don`t have time for this

  • jazmyn

    we need home work !!!

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