My daughter comes home after a long school day and consistently has 2-3 hours of homework to do. She’s a very good student with very good grades, but the stress is getting to her — and she’s only in 7th grade.
I know, I know. Generations of kids have complained that they have too much homework. But something has changed in the last few years, and it’s not for the better. Now, there’s research to back up those who believe that kids are being overloaded with homework.
Duke University professor Harris Cooper has reviewed several studies on homework done in the last decade and concluded that too much homework (over 90 minutes per day for middle schoolers, over two hours for high schoolers) has no academic benefit and may produce negative results.
A survey by the University of Michigan found that the amount of time spent on homework has increased 51% since 1981.
Alfie Kohn says in his book, “The Homework Myth,” that for elementary school students, there is no evidence of any academic benefit in homework: “People fall back on the self-discipline argument and how it helps students learn study skills, but that is an urban myth” (that applies in the suburbs, as well).
We have to get teachers to stop piling on, especially the homework that is nothing more than busy work. If we want our children to have well-rounded lives, including sports, music lessons, and general free time to play and let their imaginations roam, we have to stop bogging them down in these crushing days that consist of little more than school, homework, and meals.
To those who claim our kids have to work harder to stay ahead in a global economy, consider this. The countries whose children do better on student achievement tests tend to give their students less homework that we do, not more.
This is not about blaming teachers, or saying they’re not doing their jobs, or denouncing the American educational system. There’s no need for any of that. But even the teachers I’ve spoken with agree that homework has gotten out of control (and remember, they’re the ones who have to review and grade all this stuff!).
Is this a result of all the extra testing demanded by No Child Left Behind? I don’t know. But I do know that my daughter is living in a world of No Textbook Left At School — the kid’s lugging virtually all of them home every day to do her homework.