As the movement against excessive homework continues to grow, some parents say they’re drawing a line in the sand between home and school. Schools, in turn, are starting to rethink the role of homework and how it should be assigned.

If homework serves simply as busy work — proof that kids are “learning,” then that time is wasted, some say. Parents are sensitive to pressures on their children and want them to have down time when they get home from seven hours in school. If the work isn’t stimulating, then why do it?

“I just think that schools need to be a little more thoughtful about their policies for homework and work with the teachers to make sure that whatever homework that they do assign are rich, valuable experiences for the kids, and will actually be corrected,” said Jolene Ivey, mother of five boys in a discussion on NPR’s Tell Me More.

“We’re teaching to the test, so a lot of the instruction that should be going on in the school environment is not there,” said Stephen Jones, an educator and a father. “Giving homework gives them an additional opportunity to give them work.” He doesn’t necessarily think that’s the worst thing, but he said homework should allow different learning styles to flourish so that it’s both more motivating and more fun for kids when they are at home.

Proponents of homework say that the ability to buckle down and focus on homework after a long day is a key skill that young people will need in college and beyond. If high schools don’t assign enough homework, graduates will be unprepared when they confront heavy work loads in college.

But Kenneth Goldberg, psychologist and author of “The Homework Trap,” argues that success in college is due more to self-confidence. He argues that homework highlights “under the radar” learning disabilities in children that make it much harder for some to finish work at home. One of his children struggles with homework on a nightly basis, leading Goldberg to conclude that homework batters the struggling child with negativity, challenging his self-confidence instead of nurturing it.

Goldberg has a few simple solutions to offer parents and teachers about how to avoid the homework trap and increase productivity. He promotes the idea of designating specific amounts of time to homework, regardless of whether the project gets done and then discussing a different set of expectations with the school.

He points them out in a Wall Street Journal article:

1. Time-bound homework. Just like school starts and stops by the clock, define homework as a fixed period of time. See what the child can do in a reasonable amount of time and work with that child on using the time well.

2. Reduced penalties. Zeros factored in 25 percent of the grade is too harsh of a penalty to alter behavior. Lesser consequences will prove more effective in both mobilizing the child and allowing the parent to approach the issue calmly.

3. Respect lines of authority. Teachers are in charge of their classrooms. Parents should tread lightly when it comes to telling them what to do. Parents are the people in charge of their homes; teachers should not tell parents how to organize their homes. Ultimately, when decisions are to be made about behaviors in the home (i.e. homework), the parent needs to be the one with the final say.

“Teachers should recognize that parents are the head of the home, teachers are the head of the classroom, and that homework is given with the permission of the parents,” Goldberg said.

For parents like Ivey, who want their kids to succeed in school, the homework conundrum has become inescapable.

“Homework is such a miserable experience in my life,” Ivey said. “The teachers have my kids for seven hours a day and when my kids get home I like for them to be able to do something else.”


Parents Wonder: Why So Much Homework? 23 December,2015Katrina Schwartz

  • Homework is a means of reinforcing what the child has learned in school. The moment we start seeing homework as a chore rather than continued learning we fail our children and ourselves

    • ItsBusywork

      Homework *can be* a means of reinforcement, but that was not our experience with our daughter’s homework. In high school, she had one teacher whose assignments were not simply fill-in the blank/multiple choice worksheets by the bucketful. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, about the hours worth of worksheets each night that helped her understand any subject in greater depth, or, really, any depth at all. Regurgitation is not education. The skill may be useful for playing Trivial Pursuit, but has nothing to do with critically evaluating what has been learned and what it means in a larger context.

      Even worse than the general waste of time, worksheets often contained poor grammar, incomplete information, or obviously incorrect information.

      She had a wonderful World Civ. teacher who not only required serious study, evaluation, and the demonstration of one’s depth of understanding, but also taught the English skills necessary to write a cohesive research paper – skills that were missing from the English curriculum. Writing a 10-page research paper, using proper grammar and spelling, proper citations, and solid theses and defenses thereof is entirely different from filling out worksheets of fill-in-the-blank questions about a boring paragraph of text. The latter may be a useful test-taking trick for acing the reading comprehension portion of the SAT’s, but it’s not a valid methodology for teaching people to use the English language in any meaningful way.

      This wasn’t in some underfunded inner-city school, but an elite public school system in a wealthy suburb of a major technical region. The teach-to-the-test methodology has destroyed public education in much of the US.

      • My high school homework experience was terrible, too. Each teacher was REQUIRED to give an hours worth of homework a night; that adds up! Plus with students having extracurricular activities like clubs, sports, and jobs, they have no free time… Colleges rather see students who are involved in clubs and volunteer work.. not stuck inside all day doing homework..

    • bsaunders

      I’m not sure how old you are. My mother, who’s now almost 80, was a teacher as was her mother before her. She tells me that children in the 1950s and 1960s did not get the level of homework that children get today. I’m talking now about elementary and middle-school children: the amount of learning they need to do (i.e., foundational reading, writing, math, science, and social studies) has not changed. It makes no sense that children today need “reinforcement” that children of 50 years ago did not need. In those days, fewer children left school without basic skills.

      Homework as it currently exists IS a chore. In fact, there are studies that suggest that gifted children learn MORE over the summer than during the school year because excessive drill-based homework cuts into their time to read and learn. In my opinion, it is a greater failure for parents to conform to this without protest.

    • Fed Up

      How about you go to work for 8 hrs and then come home after a long day and do another 3 hrs of the same thing.

      • Doctor Todd

        I regularly put in 12 hours a day at the office AND then I regularly read books concerning my field to improve. I say we just get rid of school all together so kids can do whatever they want. Let’s teach them all to feel like victims cause kids just have it so rough these days. I’m sure these teachers, that lack passion, spend the entire day actually teaching.

        • Matty S Mate

          So because you are incapable to complete your work in 8 hours we all have to do it your incompetent way?

      • Mike

        Umm . . . Eshwar, that’s exactly what most people do. Teachers do it more than any other career. When I taught, I spent about 9 hours at school and at least two or three more working at home. I’d work at least 10 hours on weekends. Now that I’m an administrator, it’s shifted a little to 10 hours a day at school and 1 or 2 at home and 4 to 6 on weekends.

  • Richard

    Or, with the whole flipped classroom notion, the idea of homework is even more crucial. It allows for students to learn in their way, in their time.

  • Just someone

    I wish we could replace the term “homework ” with the term “practice.” Just as playing sports or learning to play a musical instrument, students should receive the lesson in school, practice it under the teacher’s supervision to be sure it is being done correctly and then repeated at home to become more proficient. “Practice” at home in any subject need’t be excessive. Daily reviewing notes taken in class each day after school is a more efficient way of learning since our brains can only take in so much information in a given amount of time and repetition helps us to retain it. It would be ideal if teachers could also be given enough time to immmediately give feedback on the “practice” to prevent poor habits from developing or misinformation from being cemented into their understanding. Practice with purpose would be a wonderful alternative for homework as busy work.

    • Deb

      In musical instrument and sports practice, at least in the early years, kids are less likely to have those activities daily. Music lessons go once a week, usually, and sports might be 2-3 days a week. The only way to truly maintain skills between times is outside practice of some kind, really, and since sports and music also involve muscle memory, refinement of those skills helps the student overall while ignoring them holds the student back. And let’s not forget that for the majority of students who undertake those activities, they are VOLUNTARY and they are ELECTIVE. They aren’t required subjects. [disclaimer: I’m a music teacher.]

      Math and reading and other academic subjects, on the other hand, are required, AND they meet daily in most cases. My kid already gets math for 90-120 minutes a day in school; does she REALLY REALLY need another 20 minutes at home on top of that? How is homework ON TOP OF an hour and a half of a subject she already has DAILY, so is reinforced DAILY, truly beneficial? We are having an incredibly hard time finding time for her to do anything athletic (and are limited to one hour a week most weeks, sometimes two if the schedule is lighter), and she’s already struggling to find time to fit regular cello practice in there as well (forget additional time to schedule a lesson outside the home above and beyond the cello class at school, which is no substitute for anything resembling private study with a specialist :P). When is my kid supposed to be a KID after 6-1/2 hours at school? Next year is middle school and the loss of the precious little recreational time in school kids here already get (20-30 minutes daily, weather permitting), and a much longer bus ride (middle school isn’t in our neighborhood). Outside summers and (most) weekends, this is her last chance to be a kid! 🙁

    • I learned vocabulary best when my teacher made me write each word ten times… practice practice practice makes perfect!
      Also, with increased accountability on teachers for students’ failure, they are trying to cram in as much material and practice as possible.

      • Joseph Pizzo

        How about some accountability of students for completing their assigned work and parents for making sure they do it. My Mom was a superintendent of a large suburban school district for 20 years, but she always asked if we did our homework or book reviews or projects. Neither of us ultimately became very strong believers in the efficacy of daily homework; in fact, she refused to set a district homework policy, leaving that to the teachers, NOT the administrators, on the grounds that it’s unfair to curtail teachers’ academic freedom and some teachers do well with homework. I’m considered a master teacher of English. I’ve always been the best qualified teacher or supervisor of English in any school or district because you don’t find educators with “real” doctorates in solid academic disciplines. If I were to return to the classroom and the principal assigned me four English classes containing students reading and writing below grade level, had significant absenteeism, kids who shouldn’t have been promoted to whatever grade I’m teaching and no commitment to their education or engagement with school, I’ll look like an incompetent teacher because their standardized test scores didn’t go up from the previous year. That’s another issue. One factor my Mom brought to my attention years ago is that “kids need to be kids” and she directed pull-out programs to “pull out” their students from Physical Education only if there is no other way to provide those remedial services. She spot-checked, too and a few principals received Letters of Reprimand for not adequately supervising their teachers and the teachers had the unique, albeit dubious distinction of receiving a Letter of Reprimand directly from the Superintendent of Schools. Too much homework cuts in on the time kids need to BE kids — and weighing all the research (and PhDs are trained to be researchers as well as scholars; my MS in Admin & Supervision was primarily statistics and research courses because I argued successfully that I already knew how to run a school), there is no clear proof that homework results in anything but paperwork.

        • J-me

          Kids should be accountable for their homework, not parents. If the teachers assigns work that can’t be done at home without parent involvement and enforcement, then it shouldn’t be given. If I child is falling behind in school simply because she doesn’t have parental homework monitoring, then she’s not getting a good education during the day. If it becomes obvious that a child is not able to keep up with homework then it is the school’s responsibility to notice, try to understand where the problem is, and do what they can to help the child in the time they have with her.

          Allowing parents to move out of their role as parent and cross over to the role of assignment manager and personal schoolwork assistant has led us to this Race to Nowhere. It is the competitive, overbearing, policing, helicopter parenting that feeds the problems in our schools today and I wish that our school’s would stop encouraging it.

          • Dawn La Londe Bumstead

            Thank You as well

        • Dawn La Londe Bumstead

          THANK YOU!!!!!

        • Kathy

          Interesting that a “master teacher of English” has not mastered writing skills like paragraphing, conciseness, and organization and sequencing of ideas.

  • Where are the teacher’s voices on this? Besides, Stephen Jones. I’m not sure if he speaks for every educator out there. As a current college student, I think this “teaching to the test” thing should be done away with. It was so easy for me in high school to cram and never have to think about the subject again. In college all my skills work together and it’s an important point to NOT forget what I’ve learned because it can have dire consequences, however, that mentality I learned in high school DID carry over to college and I’m only just now learning that I need to rethink how I handle this knowledge.

    • Deb

      Hah. Nobody’s listening to the teachers. At least not the people setting the policies. 🙁

  • Trena

    It’s because there is chaos in the schools all day. Endless distractions, drama, trumped up celebrations, various crises every day in the school. I don’t see how even the most dedicated students can learn a thing during school hours, or get any of their “home” work done while at school. They must try to get it done at home while trying also to relax and de-stress and unwind after a hectic, confusing day at school. They have way too much going on which needs to be processed each day, in addition to their school work.

    • I’m student teaching right now at an inner city school, and I can confirm what you’re saying Trena. It’s is insane, busy, unfocused all day; plus, my school has no walls or halls.. it’s an “open” concept… meaning there is never a single moment of silence, and many students complain that they cannot do their assignments because they cannot focus with people yelling in the classroom next door.
      I feel exhausted and overwhelmed after everyday.. I’m sure the students feel the same way

  • shadeed ahmad

    Homework in moderation is great and essential. As an infringement on a parent’s time and desires to teach a child other important things of life, it is predatory on a child’s balanced, healthy human development.

  • bstone

    I never had as much homework in college as I had in high school. A lot of the homework in high school was filling out ridiculous worksheets by finding the answers in a textbook I was supposed to be “reading.” The giant math problem sets where we spent months solving derivatives with the difference quotient were very educational, too.

    I understand the rational for homework, but some forget the difference between quantity and quality.

    • It’s true… I feel like I had more homework in high school than in college… Plus, in college, the very first day of class you are given the syllabus that lays out the entire rest of the semester; you know what is expected, what is due, when it’s due… You have flexibility to do things when you want to or when your schedule allows it. Also, in college I only had two or three classes a day, and I almost never had class on Thursday or Friday… Kids have school 5 days a week and it lasts 7 hours!! yeesh…

  • Lerkero

    Homework is supposed to reinforce what is learned in the classroom. It’s already bad enough that summer breaks allow the time for children to forget a lot of what they previously learned. Taking away homework as a form of practice will make things work.

    I know each individual learns differently than another, but I would never want to reduce the reinforcement of education. I had to learn that the hard way in college.

    • Deb

      So maybe we need to re-think how we structure our school year. Maybe 9-10 weeks on and 2-3 weeks off with a longer break for summer – but still MUCH shorter than the 2-1/2 months American kids have now – would give families time to reconnect during the school year (bonus: travel and hotel rates are generally lower then!) – while lessening the effects of long breaks away from school. Some of that time between sessions could be used for the staff development that pulls teachers from classrooms already during the school year, or necessitates systemwide half-days and professional days that interrupt instruction of all subjects.

      • Princess Mom

        That would only work if every child had one parent staying home to care for him/her during those 2-3 weeks off every three months. Finding childcare in a year-round school system is impossible.

    • bsaunders

      I speak as a person who loves to learn. Since when does learning – actual learning – require this kind of “reinforcement”? That idea is pseudo-scientific nonsense. For instance, I recently watched the documentary about New York City. That got me curious, so I acquired some books. I read the books. I do not sit down every evening for an hour answering random questions.

      The same is true for when I got certified as a fitness instructor. I had to learn things like mathematical formulas governing oxygen consumption during exercise, leading up to an actual timed, paper-and-pencil test. Not once did I do anything resembling hours of repetitive “homework.”

  • Frank

    “…success in college is due more to self-confidence.”

    Are you kidding? American kids have abundant self-confidence compared to children of other nations. Unfortunately, their self-confidence is ill-supported by reality.

    Self-confidence will not prove a theorem, help a building to stand up, write a cogent brief. The mind is much like a muscle. It needs to be exercised to become strong. No basketball player would deny that (boring) drill and practice is necessary for success. The same is true of academic subjects.

    • ContextMatters

      You appear to have missed the context – confidence in one’s ability to do the work is the “self-confidence” to which the author is referring. The current educational paradigm undermines that particular area of confidence, by highlighting any learning issues, while offering nothing at all to help the student find ways to cope with and overcome those issues.

      • true… I remember when my high school math teacher would assign 30 problems for homework, and I didn’t know how to do a single one of the problems… I understood everything he said in class, but the homework was far more difficult. I had no one at home to help me… so I just sat in my room for hours on end feeling hopeless and thinking I was stupid… It was just frustrating, and I would usually end up copying someone’s paper the nest day.

    • rriley

      fuck u

  • Steve

    I agree largely with “Just Someone.” Homework should be practice. There is nothing in our life in which we excel without significant practice. Why would it be any different for mathematics, for example? If we want our students to excel, they need practice. Sometimes the needed practice extends beyond the class period. A truly transformative practice in education would be where students are only assigned problems for homework that they can’t demonstrate mastery on. You get to skip the problems you’ve shown you can do; you are required to practice more on the ones you don’t yet grasp.

    • Deb

      See my reply to Just Someone. There’s practice and there’s busywork – and too many kids are getting too much busywork. 🙁

      Additionally, if kids are getting instruction and reinforcement daily in a subject for 90 minutes or more (math for 90-120 minutes in my kids’ school, and reading for 2 to 2-1/2 hours DAILY!), how much more can they possibly get at home? And why should they be getting MORE at home? How is that kind of time not enough?!?!?

      And yes, I’m a teacher, not “just” a parent – and a music teacher at that, so I know about the importance of practice – but some of this is ridiculous. My second-grader spent THREE WEEKS on bar graphs. For THREE WEEKS she was constructing graph after graph after graph at home for assigned homework – in addition to the 3-5 she was doing each week at school. WHY?!?!? Good thing she likes doing that sort of thing and doesn’t have visual perception or fine-motor issues like my other child, for whom this would have been sheer torture and taken a good hour-plus daily. (Younger child is in second grade and no WAY should be doing an hour-plus daily outside school!)

      • Steve

        I too would agree that 3 weeks on bar graphs seems excessive. With my suggestion, the bar graph homework would have ceased the minute your daughter demonstrated she had mastery of the concept. I guess my belief is that busy work should be defined as work assigned after students show mastery or work assigned that doesn’t meet an important standard.
        Thanks for your thoughts,

        • Deb

          Steve, did you get a chance to read my response above about how homework is NOT the same as practicing for a sport or a musical instrument? Different situations IMO. Same approach for the most part, if you’re trying to reinforce – but I question the need for that much reinforcement given how much time is spent during the day getting the concept across in the first place. :-

  • disqus_N5umkYbT1t

    Homework is not reinforcing what you learn in schools. It is simply a test of if parents can be home to do it with the children. Homework is classist.

    • enroc

      That’s all homework is? Here I was thinking that teacher’s unions were for collective bargaining power. I should have dug deeper and realized that they only exist to orchestrate a widespread, classist agenda!

      Good call.

    • L’s mom

      There is some truth to this. It’s not just whether parents can be at home, it’s also whether parents know the material themselves, a problem that gets more serious as the kids get older and the material gets harder. My husband is a mathematician and will be able to help our kid with math all the way through high school and beyond – how many kids have such a handy resource?

  • L’s mom

    In my career as an administrative assistant, I have often come upon people who work incredibly long hours, often bringing work home with them. You know what? They don’t accomplish any more than people who just work 40 hours a week, but who know how to manage their time. In my 50’s, I returned to college. I spent a lot less time on homework than other students, often turning papers in early, and still graduated with a 3.92 GPA. The years of secretarial work paid off – I know how to use my time effectively. The point is not how much time you spend, but whether you accomplish your goal. Teachers who assign excessive homework are clearly doing an inadequate job in the classroom.

    • Yes, I agree. I liked the idea in the article that mentioned having students do what they can in a set amount of time; each student works at a different pace…

  • David

    the french have outlawed homework. smart. the rationale? disadvantaged kids (those whose parents are non-existent, drunks, single and work two jobs, less educated than their kids, and the like) can’t compete with kids whose folks sit down with them to help them through a math problem or an essay. twelve years of prison for kids are bad enough, why continue the mandatory sentence after class?

    • Mike

      No, they haven’t.

  • R

    As a teacher at the secondary level, my colleagues and I strive to give a reasonable amount of meaningful homework. We are shocked by how little students are willing to do, both in and out of the classroom. I often have parents ask me if I give homework, because they do not see their child doing any work, for any subject. As an English teacher, a lot of the homework I give is reading. I do not give an excessive amount to be read in one night, and I do not give new reading assignments over the weekend; I implore students who might be behind over to catch up then. If we do not allow them to read at home, how will they experience literature? It is very difficult to get them to read quietly in a classroom over an extended period of time. Their attention spans are extremely short, and extended attention to any task is a major problem. I do think a small part of this is due to boredom with teaching driven by testing. A more influential factor is the impact of video games, texting and less time reading in general, I think.

    When my own children were younger, in elementary grades, they had homework every night, and I did feel that often it was homework given as a matter of course, that the teachers had to adhere to some sort of policy and that it was mandatory to give homework. That’s ridiculous. Otherwise, homework has a very valid place in education.

    • L’s mom

      My son’s teacher has one standing homework assignment (this is 4th grade) – read for half an hour. Read anything you like, but read. My son has ADHD, but once he gets into a book, the house could be on fire and he wouldn’t put the book down. Of course, it helps that he sees his parents reading…

  • When it comes to education, parents basically must have
    their cake and eat it too. The dominant philosophy in this culture revolves
    around NO child left behind and high stakes testing. The only thing parents can agree upon is that they’re most comfortable when teachers have their feet against the flames!

  • Every single one of the last five or sex comments I’ve placed, NPR has refused to place. No one can prove what I said wrong, they only mock it, which is as much as an admission they can’t prove it wrong, and NPR has started not even placing the comments, which is an even stronger admission. This is to see if this willbe placed and to provide some points with respect to this article.

    So much emphasis on kids not being worn out by homework. Where is the concern about their not being worn by the play dates and afterschool programs and school sports?

    The quite literal wheeze about homework “teaching to the test”. Why ius it wrong to “teach to the test”? “The test” is the collection of information that the students need to handle many things in the present and be prepared to go further. At least in terms of technical studies, few, if any, have shown the ability to telescope ten thousand years or more of research in a few semesters. Leaving them entirely to their own resoruces, encouraging all this “learning to learn” seems doomed to fail with most students. And what’s wroing with telling them what has already been learned? How many are content to let a child “learn how to learn” that a pot of boiling water on the stove is dangerous? In fact, de-emphasizing actually giving students information sounds a lot like a dodge by incompetent and unlearned “teachers” to getting around proving they don’t even know the subject they’re hired to teach!

    And the prevalent sentiment of the past few decades, that everything has to be necessarily fun! Not everything in the world necessarily is fun! Providing homework materials geared only toward being a game can condition many students not to be able to work within a world that isn’t fashioned just as necessarily aimless doversionary enjoyment.

    • ContextMatters

      You’re right – over-scheduling is a problem, as is over-structuring (even “free” time is now, frequently, controlled by adults telling the kids how to spend that time). At the same time, the problem with “teaching to the test” is that is literally does not allow to teach in-depth, nor does it allow critical reasoning. Learning the kinds of data that can be tested via the standardized testing approach is entirely different from teaching people how to learn, research, and understand complex material. It’s one thing to know the date of a conflict, or to be able to pick which of 4 choices is the most likely to be the right one, even if you don’t really *know* the answer. That’s not the same as being able to read a long treatise, and being able to understand the ultimate implications for society if the concepts within it were enacted. Nor is it the same as being able to read an analytical report about tests that have been done, and understand which is the best course to take based on the result.

      There is a difference between getting an education and being able to sort-of recall some random facts & implement simple test taking strategies. For example, on the SAT, if you can eliminate any one of the listed answers on a 4 answer question, then your odds of gaining points by making a random guess from among the other three outstrip the odds of losing points for guessing the wrong answer; but if you can’t eliminate any answer, then the odds of being penalized exceed the odds of gaining points from a guess. In the former case, make a guess, in the latter case, leave it blank. This piece of trivia can dramatically increase your test score without reflecting in any way on your knowledge.

    • As far as “teaching to the test” and supposed fault in “knowing” an answer, being instructed that 2 plus 2 is 4; that “to skate” is an intransitive verb; that Washington was the first president, that, if ax = b and a isn’t 0, the x = b/a. that Shakespeare wrote “Hamlet” has served many people well down through the years. Historically, even being able to “understand the ultimate implications” of a treatise involves being aware of what the words, references, equations, graphs meant! And, again, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. This may cause this and the other comment I placed be removed, but, the traditional form of schooling turned out Shakespeare, da Vinci, Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, Yeats, Maxwell, Sargent, the modern excuses for “education” have produced individuals skilled only at using paid for flaks and shills to tout their “superiority” rather than actually proving it. It looks very much like this emphasis on “teaching students to learn to learn”, “instructing children to find the answers for themselves” is an over declaration of an absolute refusal to actual impart usable information to them and veneer it over with palsied claims of “showing them how to find everything out for themselves”! In other words, they accept that the majority won’t learn under any circumstance, so they don’t even intend to try, and they probably will deliberately turn them into dim servants of the New World Order, but they intend to cover their tracks by masquerading their refusal to teach as instruction in having students learn to understand on their own! Those who wanted to explore had no problem turning even conventional education into exploration; those who weren’t inclined to memorize facts show no sign necessarily, oin their own, of being willing to carry out searches for those facts.

    • As far as “teaching to the test” and supposed fault in “knowing” an answer, being instructed that 2 plus 2 is 4; that “to skate” is an intransitive verb; that Washington was the first president, that, if ax = b and a isn’t 0, the x = b/a. that Shakespeare wrote “Hamlet” has served many people well down through the years. Historically, even being able to “understand the ultimate implications” of a treatise involves being aware of what the words, references, equations, graphs meant! And, again, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. This may cause this and the other comment I placed be removed, but, the traditional form of schooling turned out Shakespeare, da Vinci, Galileo, Newton, Pasteur, Yeats, Maxwell, Sargent, the modern excuses for “education” have produced individuals skilled only at using paid for flaks and shills to tout their “superiority” rather than actually proving it. It looks very much like this emphasis on “teaching students to learn to learn”, “instructing children to find the answers for themselves” is an over declaration of an absolute refusal to actual impart usable information to them and veneer it over with palsied claims of “showing them how to find everything out for themselves”! In other words, they accept that the majority won’t learn under any circumstance, so they don’t even intend to try, and they probably will deliberately turn them into dim servants of the New World Order, but they intend to cover their tracks by masquerading their refusal to teach as instruction in having students learn to understand on their own! Those who wanted to explore had no problem turning even conventional education into exploration; those who weren’t inclined to memorize facts show no sign necessarily, oin their own, of being willing to carry out searches for those facts.

  • C Brown

    I think they have gone way overboard with homework assigned. I put two girls through college and the difference is they have a lot more time to do homework in college because they are not going to school, for the most part, five days a wheel and seven hours a day. In my opinion stacking on homework is the sign of a lazy teacher who does not get the job done in the classroom.

  • MtnWoman

    How far down the slope has the US schools slid? Try from 1st to sliding quickly to 40th in the world. Way to go America. Put your children in private schools or move to another country like Canada. Canada is light years ahead of the US. The SAT scores have slide even though they dumbed down the test years ago. Granted the parents are uneducated, as well.

  • I appreciate your section ‘Respect the line of Authority.’ Teachers, being highly educated and credentialed professionals, do have a responsibility to train the students for success. That involves understanding the learning process as well as child development. Homework is remarkably valuable. Parents really should respect the teacher’s decision and participate in the process.

    • Thinkaboutit

      But it must be a two-way street. Who gives a teacher the right to dictate a child’s activities at home? Respect should flow in both directions.

    • Princess Mom

      And for the second-grader who gets home from after-school care at 6:30, gets 90 minutes of homework and goes to bed at 8, when is that child supposed to spend quality time with his mother? Flash cards do not equal quality time. (Btw, I’m a teacher and I’m going to have to argue with your characterization of all teachers as “highly educated” and “professional”. I could tell you stories about teachers abusing their authority and bullying students that would make your hair stand on end. They get exactly as much respect as they earn.)

      • I do understand what you’re saying about inordinate amounts of homework. Time for a conversation with teacher, I’d say.

  • Moonflower

    The comments about homework preparing you to buckle down for the college workload is ridiculous, because college students do not have anywhere near 7 hours a day of class time. A full college load for most students is between 12-16 hours of time in class!

  • Gelinasfive

    My children get homework and classwork that is not done in addtion to work they need to work on… Ten minutes of flash cards and thirty minutes of reading spelling, vocab.. It is wayyyyy to much. I’ve talked to the teachers the principle and it falls in deaf ears.. It makes for stressful night and endless days

    • Princess Mom

      I had similar problems when my boys were in elementary school. My youngest was spending three hours a night in 3rd grade filling out worksheets to practice skills he had already mastered, simply because someone else in the class still needed the practice. He was under the impression that he was stupid, because the teacher kept assigning more practice on skills he thought were easy, so clearly there was *something* he didn’t understand, and he just couldn’t figure it out. He ended nearly every night in tears. In 4th grade, I just explained to the teacher that my son didn’t need the practice because the spelling list, arithmetic fluency, etc. had already been mastered, according to her own pre-tests, so we weren’t going to do it. She was a good teacher and agreed. Negotiate with your children’s teachers. They should understand that not every child needs practice of every skill.

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  • Ryan

    Im 12 and i had to do a reaserch poll on if u thought that students receive too much homework…as of last night i spent 8 hours finishing i fell asleep in class and got a detention…im not a slacker and i beleive we have too much homework

  • Kenneth Goldberg… How do you think your child will do when they hit college? They will have to study nightly and juggle projects from multiple classes. Good luck.

  • Deitra Pawley

    I used to volunteer at a elementary school working with kindergartners every Monday they would be sent home with packets for the week to be done by Thursday. I don’t think elementary school should be loaded with homework one math worksheet, one phonics (language)worksheet or (workpage ) one spelling just right for the 5-7 year old and fifteen minutes of reading anything of their choice.once they get older slowly start adding more stuff like two pages of something, reading a story and answering questions

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  • nadia

    I wish they could give out less homework, so my kids can have fun at home.

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  • Watching Eagle

    If the student is achieving >85% learning retention/ test scores they may not need to do home work or practice work. Practice/Homework is most important over the summer to maintain practical application of the knowledge. The future will be very competitive with people who have the tenacity and ambition to succeed passing the unmotivated. More people will compete for less good jobs.

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  • MrsBrock1

    I am a teacher and am always evolving my homework system. Some students do not have a chance for success as at homework as they will not do it (no matter how awesome or negligent the parent). Some really do thrive on routine, highly structured book work. For many that would kill their curious spirit. The truth is, like the 25ish kids in the class, one-size does not fit all. I LOVE projects for students as I am amazed at what they bring to the table, often showing me skills I would not otherwise know they possess. Creating a balloon car, for instance, often takes lots of thought, and often trials, reworking, play, over two weeks, the students who typically hate work are helping my book-smart kids! I have to give a variety of styles as I (as well as the kid) never knows what might be their “thing” that allows a connection. I suggest parents that for my class budget 20 minutes a day (I have 13-14-year olds, science), if more than that–they are doing too much-although, they know their student. Often I give nothing, often as I read anything they do, which means hours of work for me. There are times I realize…they are not getting this “density” formula, for instance, and I assign practice problems. I have tried assigning it ONLY to the kids who did not fair as well at the quiz for extra grade, but the reality is only several, mostly socioeconomically disadvantaged, need the work, and do not have support at home. I even give homework reprieve lunches where I sit and eat with kids in my room and help when needed. BUT, I do know for the few who take advantage–they are trying to take advantage of an opportunity, why would I deny them… At this critical age I believe learning science should start with curiosity, but a little dab a discipline if they want to excel is what it takes.

  • Craig

    I believe the term ‘work’ should be replaced with ‘learning’. It makes it a further extension of school. Also, ensuring that the home learning is tailored to each student’s needs, really does ensure that the time spent with a parent is more effective.

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  • Dac

    I think setting home work is not good role model to do.
    We do not expect our boses to give us home work and I don’t think teachers should have to do home work to. Setting a good role model is probably the best teachers can do. If people want to bring there work home with them because it is exciting and fun to do that would be a lot better.

  • JoeAnn Brunson

    My daughter gets up at 6;00am in the morning we leave home between 7 and 7;15 to get her to school at 8;00 which is her first class. I pick her up between 3;30 and 3;40 her last class is gym so when she comes out of the school shes in her gym clothes which is fine.When she gets home she starts homework from at least 4 different classes after being in school for 7 hours shes up to 10 and 11;00 doing homework stops to eat dinner maybe a half hour or 40 minutes.NEVER NEVER is there any time for family conversation. Then comes the weekend Saturday and Sunday homework where is there time for the family and or a outing? however we do love the school – Mrs. JoeAnn Brunson

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  • Matty S Mate

    Teachers can suck it, bunch of whiny little bitches trying to blame everyone else for their own incompetence. Parents should send teachers some home work after a tough day at the office. Why have teachers if parents have to tutor children for anther half of day?


Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She’s worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She’s a staff writer for KQED’s education blog MindShift.

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