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Education Science

Too Much Homework Can Be Counterproductive 573

Posted by Zonk
from the studies-funded-by-calvin dept.
Spy der Mann writes "An interesting study made by to two Penn State researchers shows that increases in homework may actually hinder educational achievement (Coral Cache) instead of improving it. The researchers analyzed a large amount of data collected by the Third International Study of Mathematics and Sciences (TIMSS) in 1994 from schools in 41 nations across the fourth, eighth and 12th grades. For some analyses, they used data from an identical study carried out in '99." From the article: "An unintended consequence may be that those children who need extra work and drill the most are the ones least likely to get it. Increasing homework loads is likely to aggravate tensions within the family, thereby generating more inequality and eroding the quality of overall education."
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Too Much Homework Can Be Counterproductive

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    all the 12 year olds who do no homework (and read /. all night) to reply and say they agree
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @06:18AM (#12692504) Journal
      You have studies saying "but assigning more homework made no difference", then just looking through this thread you just see two dozen answers saying basically "hah! I didn't do any homework back when it was less of it. They can't make me do it. The teacher was soo funny getting all upset and foaming at the mouth about it."

      Well, gee, maybe it's not homework that's causing the bad results, but _lack_ of actually _doing_ that homework. Yeah, I can see how the Japanese can do better on less homework... if they actually _do_ that homework and _study_ for it. Yeah, big surprise there, than someone on 1 hour a week of maths homework does better than someone who basically did _zero_ hours a week of maths homework.

      Or what's the article's thrust? Basically "but some parents are too busy to help the kid with that homework." Well, gee, maybe it's the _kid_ that should learn how to do some work and study? Yeah, I can see how 2 hours of maths homework done by the _parent_ still leaves the kid behind someone who did only 1 hour of it, but did it personally.

      Or in the article itself, "homework may not be cordially received, especially by parents of small children" or "Parents might sometimes see exercises in drill and memorization as intrusions into family time." So basically, forget even peer pressure from other kids. The message that the child gets even from the _parent_ is basically "oh, screw the homework, it's just getting in the way of other stuff you could do in that time."

      Well, gee, maybe it's not the homework that's the problem. Maybe what they describe there is a massive cultural failure. It's a culture which basically discourages any attempt at personal responsibility, study, or academic results. A culture where being called "Einstein" in high school is actually an _insult_. A culture where (as reflected in another recent /. article), having the genes to be a slightly asocial genius instead of an air-head chatterbox, is proposed as a reason for abortion. (Now I have nothing against abortion, but just saying that it's put on the same undesirability level as carrying the genese for some fatal diseases.)

      Maybe _that_ is the real failure.

      And blaming homework for the lack of results of people who _didn't_ do that homework... well, seems to me just bloody stupid.
      • by CaptDeuce (84529) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @09:39AM (#12694012) Journal

        Well, gee, maybe it's not the homework that's the problem. Maybe what they describe there is a massive cultural failure. It's a culture which basically discourages any attempt at personal responsibility, study, or academic results.

        On the contrary, the homework model is a product of cultures that give members of their society every opportunity to falter knowing full well that many will.

        Students have been blowing off homework since it was invented. Short of breaking out the racks and thumbscrews, nothing will significantly change: kids will fail to do their homework. End of story.

        I have yet to see a reasonable explanation of why homework is a Good Thing(TM). For instance, what is the analog of homework in real life? How many people in the work force have homework? Not a lot. Outside of teachers, business owners, and (presumably) well paid white collar workers, very few.

        If homework (as in the task that's supposed to be done, not where it's done) is supremely important, why isn't it done in school where it is more likely to be completed, and even more importantly, noticed when students are having trouble doing so they actually get timely assistance?

        I could offer some suggestions but I'll leave that as a homework exercise -- which we all know the vast majority of you won't be doing ...

        If the purpose of homework is to instill discipline in students, wouldn't it make sense to impart it in such a way that isn't doubly disastrous? As it is now, the system allows them fail to learn the material and fail to learn discipline.

        Our education system is severely ill-suited to accomplishing what many think it's supposed to do: give everyone some good book learnin' so they can become successful and productive, and what it was actually designed to do: teach the masses enough that they can become productive and indoctrinated members of the working class while floating some of the gifted on through higher education and life in the upper classes.

        In other words, our education system was designed to allow students to fail (though preferably not too badly) and homework is a wonderful tool used to accomplish that end.

      • "And blaming homework for the lack of results of people who _didn't_ do that homework... well, seems to me just bloody stupid."

        I think people not wanting to do homework is a bit more complicated then being lazy, I wanted to learn somethings in highschool but some of the classes, materials and teachers were so substandard and out of date I skipped the classes entirely because I knew they were a waste of my time and the publics money. Think UNISYS icons, and basic, and a network of 8088's with TURING progra
  • by Dancin_Santa (265275) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @03:47AM (#12692045) Journal
    You mean grad students, don't you?

    That's like the fox guarding the henhouse.

    There is a great amount of discipline that can be learned from doing homework. There is almost a direct one-to-one correlation between doing homework and excelling in classes. Having the ability to trudge through what sometimes seems to be busywork leads to stronger self-control and greater self-confidence when the grade reports come out and all that work has paid off.

    If you believe that school is not in the business of molding the characters of students into strong, self-confident, law-abiding citizens, then I could see how you'd rather they did nothing but play.
    • by MasterOfDisaster (248401) <kristopf&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @03:54AM (#12692064) Homepage Journal
      While that may be true, if you're going to disagree with an article that mentions not only one, but two studies disagreeing with you, why don't you back that up with a little fact?
    • Yeah, but if the homework were only boring repetitions, the students will feel like working chore and that's bad in planting the value of discipline. Discipline ought to be fostered through the love of what the student doing and through challenge of the given problems. Definitely not chore. If you ask people who excel in their field, this is almost always the case.

    • If you believe that school is not in the business of molding the characters of students into strong, self-confident, law-abiding citizens ...

      No, it's not. It's about giving them the basic knowledge they need in the modern society.

      Regarding your comment. I've been one of the best students in my class back in school, and knew a few others. The general pattern was the following: those who did all their homework were those who also get high marks, but simply because they just memorized a lot. When confro

      • No, it's not. It's about giving them the basic knowledge they need in the modern society.

        What, so you think the government provides public educations for completely altruistic reasons?

        The man considered the father of public education - I can't recall his name off the top of my head - declared that there were two reasons for public education:

        1. To increase economic growth by providing citizens with job skills and foundations for job skills; and

        2. To increase the nation's military readiness by teachi
        • Regarding #2 there, I have a question: why isn't firearm usage and safety taught in schools? You'd think it would help cut down on the accidental shootings that kids keep getting themselves into.

          High school is not necessary, I wish they'd just abolish it and just move people into college sooner.
          • Regarding #2 there, I have a question: why isn't firearm usage and safety taught in schools? You'd think it would help cut down on the accidental shootings that kids keep getting themselves into.

            Probably because it makes more sense to do that in boot camp - which is, when you think about it, just another form of public education.

            After all, it's clearly in the State's interest that its military carries more and better guns, and has more and better training, than its civilians. The ability to rise up ag
            • So you have either kid soldiers or 20 year olds dumb enough to shoot someone by accident just because they received no training in the US? The grandparent probably meant to train them early to prevent shootings before they leave school, not when they finished school and enter the military.
          • Regarding #2 there, I have a question: why isn't firearm usage and safety taught in schools? You'd think it would help cut down on the accidental shootings that kids keep getting themselves into.

            Actually, it is, in some school systems. Well, more accurately, the safety part. For a few weeks in seventh grade I took a "hunter's safety" course during the health class timeslot. In the area I grew up hunting was a very common sport, which is why I imagine they spun it that way, but a lot of it had to do w

    • by Mazem (789015)
      There is almost a direct one-to-one correlation between doing homework and excelling in classes.

      If by "excelling in classes", you mean getting a good grade then yeah, thats by design. Homework counts towards your grade, so if you do it you get a better grade. On the other hand if you mean better overall understanding of the material then I call BS. Until you show some solid evidence, I'm sticking to my personal experience which dictates exactly the opposite.
      • I wouldn't say the opposite (doing homework doesn't lower your understanding) but people able to recognize grunt/memorization work are definitely better off than people blindly obeying their teachers in every aspect.
    • There is almost a direct one-to-one correlation between doing homework and excelling in classes.

      I stopped doing homework when I was around 12-13 (don't remember exactly), I've almost always been in top 5 of the class (and in logical stuff, like maths and physics and things like that, usually the best).

      Having the ability to trudge through what sometimes seems to be busywork leads to stronger self-control

      Now there's where the gotcha lies. I have terrible self-control, and really have to push myself to g
    • That's a bit of an overstatement. I found at degree level that the kind of person who spent hours doing their homework every night while at school very often struggled when introduced to a world where problems are not arranged in neat groups on one side of A4.
      Give them a problem sheet and they were quite happy to go and sit down and quietly work through it. Ask them to actually apply that knowledge, or to solve a different, related, problem, or even (heaven-forbid) ask them to combine several ideas at once
      • Yes, but the otherside is worse. The kind of people who don't need to do any homework don't learn the self discipline they need. As soon as they start a PhD or their own business they lack the patience and experience of doing hard work.

        At least, that's me :)
    • by say (191220)

      There is almost a direct one-to-one correlation between doing homework and excelling in classes.

      I have lots of anecdotal evidence that this is bullshit. I have better grades than many, many of those who did homework in upper secondary.
    • If you believe that school is not in the business of molding the characters of students into strong, self-confident, law-abiding citizens, then I could see how you'd rather they did nothing but play.

      Funny, I thought that was the parents job...

    • I was one of the best of my year. And ever since 5th grade I never did any homework (except for special projects). I got enough bad grades for not doing homework...but my excellent other grades more than made up for that.

      Don't work hard to get your work done. Work hard on your abilities, so you you have no problems to get your work done.
  • Where's the website where you post your homework and somebody on the other side of the World does it for you for a couple of dollars....?
  • Nice try. (Score:2, Funny)

    by TylerTheGreat (848804)
    Nice try, but that excuse never worked for me when I was in school.
  • ...you mean a study figured out that: An unintended consequence may be that those children who need extra work and drill the most are the ones least likely to get it?

    I only wish I were on the research team that published such an insightful conclusion as: Children that need extra help are likely those who are having problems in a subject.

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot: </sarcasm>
  • by Helix150 (177049) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @03:57AM (#12692080)
    Not a bad study, and having gone through the system I tend to agree with it, but for other reasons.
    Kids who are assigned a heavy homework load will more often than not procrastinate and put it off until late at night, at which point they will have to stay awake to finish it and won't get enough sleep. This makes the kid tired in class the next day, so (s)he won't learn as well. Studies DO show that getting a good night's sleep has a large effect on what you learn- sleep helps you lock in what you learned during the day. Think of it like flushing a RAM buffer to disk. Not a step to be skipped.
    Lastly- most of the teachers I had (granted this was a while ago) who assigned heavy homework also were not particularly good at their jobs. They did not encourage or develop interesting class discussions, the lesson was a series of objectives on a paper which must be completed. BORING. Better teachers can engage students and make them want to learn, sadly the system as we have it does not attract or keep such teachers...

    If you want kids to do better- get better teachers, not more work.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Agree, and yet, disagree.

      As a (former) high school student, I can tell you a number of things about homework and its current state in schools.

      Facts where I came from:
      1) Too much homework is assigned.
      2) Very few people do homework.
      3) Those that do homework rarely do it well.

      1 - Teachers give too much homework, and the problem only increases if the student is in "honors"/AP/GT/K-Level/"upper-level" classes. The alarming misconception is that students who choose to take a harder/more strenuous curriculum ne
    • "If you want kids to do better- get better teachers, not more work."

      Bollocks!

      If you want kids to do better - get better parents! The push for more homework assignments has the tendency to keep students off the streets and out of trouble. Which is more than many parents are willing (or able) to do. How many of these parents have let the TV (boob-tube) do their babysitting for them, instead of reading a book to their kids, or actually digging in to help them understand their homework? The three R's are
      • Yes, many people need better parenting, but that doesn't mean a good teacher who engages with the class and makes them want to learn can't help the best (or worst) of students achieve more than someone who sits there and dishes out text books. Of course the parents have a large impact, but it's rediculous to say that a good teacher doesn't have a part to play - maybe even a greater part in the case of those who have a gap to fill that their parents left.

        I'd also have to strongly disagree with the school un
  • by osrevad (796763) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @03:59AM (#12692083)
    Too much of anything can be counterproductive
    • Correction - it should be pretty obvious. As much as there are bosses that think it's best to wring every hour they can from their employee, there will be teachers that don't realise that too much homework will be a bad thing.
  • Scientific Research That Could Have Been Avoided [slashdot.org]

    I feel they're just stating the obvious here - I'm currently a high school student, and I do NOT do homework, unless I feel I need to. If there's subject concepts or theories that I'm already aware of and understand, why do the homework? It just adds more to the pile that I have every night. It doesn't take a grad student to work out doing the work that applies to yourself is more relevant and useful than just doing everything in the book. My teachers also s
    • I wish I could have done it this way from the beginning. I have always wanted to do what I felt needed to be done. And yet, my high school, as a matter of policy, piled on homework, that had to be done; and it was my impression that they took it personally when I didn't. I think I cracked about sophomore year, and I am still trying to recover, three semesters into college.

      - Textbooks and other reading material, even if interesting, seem ancillary and unnecessary (they are not).

      - Homework (especially mathe
  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @04:15AM (#12692122) Homepage Journal
    Given a choice, I'd rather not do homework at all. But as it turns out that's the least unpleasant choice in front of me - sort of the lesser of the evils. In the long run, it's the easy way to a nice life (and in the long long run, we're all dead anyway).

    Homework isn't pretty - but it teaches you how to sit down and do stuff. The real problem is that most homework is the hard stuff - makes some children think and most of them give up. I used to postpone it and do an all nighter , my sister used to finish her homework the day she got it... it sort of carries over into how you handle problems in real life too (unfortunately).

    My parents just gave up on trying to make me do homework when I was around 11 or 10 years old. I think it helped me think my way around problems - by the time I was 17 I was ranked in the top 50 students in the state. Unorthodox methods (I remember being kicked out of class for asking the proof of Pythagoras Theorem) and a couple of good teachers pushed me through the indifference barrier that these kids are stuck at (translated as "why should I always be studying ?").

    I spent most of my life learning stuff - but I studied around 4 or 5 years. Too bad the world doesn't realize they need problem solvers of a practical nature - not guys who know calculus by heart.

    Let me quote Calvin here - They only teach stuff any fool can look up in a book .

    • Homework isn't pretty - but it teaches you how to sit down and do stuff.
      Speak for yourself, the only thing I ever learned from homework is how to weasle out of work.
    • I went through secondary school trying to do as little home work as possible. For the most part I could finish the work that was set during the lesson. Sometimes I would be a little more creative and finish the work that had to be handed up and the beginning of one class during the previous unrelated class. In my last 2 years of secondary school this became easier as I then had free periods during the day. But I basically didn't do any work at home for the entire 5 years including exam revision. Only a coup
    • by jwdb (526327) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @05:01AM (#12692251)
      I honestly hope you never get your wish of removing homework from the curriculum.

      I went through high school in the US, hating homework like everyone else. Then I moved to Europe for college and discovered what a blessing homework really is. Thing is, my university here has no homework, no papers, and maybe one or two projects in the semester (total, not per class), so your ENTIRE grade is based on a 4-hour usually-verbal exam.
      I get 10 weeks of classes and recitations, during which I do jack sh*t in my free time. I then get 3 weeks off to study, which I desperately need, and then 3 weeks to take 6 exams. Let me tell you, those 6 weeks are the most stressful I've ever experienced - by the 4th week I'm usually mildly depressed due to stress.

      That's the blessing of homework - it spreads the work out over the year. I'm not sure how you'd feel about this system, but I'd kill for some homework right about now... (I'm in the 3rd week - serious crunch time)

      Jw
      • Sounds a lot more like a school or set of schools who just decided to take the opposite extreme. You need a balance. Homework is about giving students a check that they know the material. It shouldn't be mind numbing repetition and fourty of the same exercise.

        When I was in high school, I hated homework; it was the same drivel over and over. So I just stopped doing it. If I thought I didn't know the topic, then I would try a few and see. Lucky, my teachers weren't idiots and didn't try to cause me tro
        • However, you never let it have anything to do with your grade.

          The question then is, what's the motivation to do it? In theory I could do homework here - plenty of problems in the text book or from outside sources. The problem is that I simply have no motivation to do so, especially not after a long day of classes.

          I believe now that grades should form a limited part of your grade. You should be able to pass without it, but you need to learn to be able to do repetitive and boring work just as much as skill
        • by egburr (141740) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @09:27AM (#12693896) Homepage
          My idea of using homework is to assign it, provide answers, review it in class. However, you never let it have anything to do with your grade.

          One of my teachers had a great solution for this. Homework never counted towards a grade and was not checked. All the answers were in the book anyway, but not the steps to reach the answer (other than the general steps in the lessons). Homework solutions were discussed in class after it was turned in.

          The catch was that if you did your homework and turned it in on time and did poorly on a test, then you could request that the teacher check your homework and he would give some extra credit if the homework was done correctly.

          This gave everyone who needed to do the homework the incentive to do it, and did not penalize the people who did not need to do it.

          The funny thing is this was my calculus class and was the first math/science class where I actually felt a need to do the homework to be able to do well on the tests (not for the extra credit but for the practice).

          I knew the topics, I tested excellent, so I suppose I "got away" with it. I got to college and was screwed, because I adopted a policy of not needing to study or do homework.

          Likewise for me, except my first year of college was basically a repeat of my senior year of high school, so it was my second year of college when I suddenly discovered a need for study and homework outside of class, and I did not have the skills or habits for doing that.

          Just giving homework does not teach good study habits, especially for people who learn the subject easily and have no need to do the homework.

  • It's not easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @04:21AM (#12692136)
    The there's also the issue of student motivation to actually study in the first place. Unless you have an active and ongoing interest in a particular topic, you are usually not particularly motivated to study it.
    Nobody at home forced me to take an interest in computers and electronics. Nobody gave me homework

    You can only thrust so much work at kids, but the REAL learning starts happening when the kids start LEARNING FOR THEMSELVES and feel comfortable coming to the teacher with all sorts of difficult questions. Rather than the current top->down method of throwing facts around, hoping they stick, and asking the students questions they have no motivation to answer for themselves.

    The main problem is, at a young age kids aren't motivated to want to slug away at homework... little do they realise that sooner or later their formative years are going to be gone and the workforce will be waiting for them. In a way I guess they have to be forced, but it is not the best way to learn IMHO.

    All in all, teaching is not an easy job. Teaching kids to think, rather than giving them all the answers is tricky.
    • I agree with what you said, but I also believe that there's more to it. I'm an EE major, I knew I was gonna be an EE major ten years ago, and I've been studying EE in my free time. However, there is no way I would be any good at it without being forced to learn some of the less interesting aspects (at least for me). I tend to love practical circuits and such, but without the mathematics theory used to analyse and design them I'm dead in the water.

      Yes, you have to be interested and motivated to truly learn.
      • I tend to love practical circuits and such, but without the mathematics theory used to analyse and design them I'm dead in the water
        Dude, wait till you get a job - boy are you going to be pissed when you find out you're only going to use maybe 10% of what you learned in school. You'll see.
        • I sincerely doubt I won't be using calculus, to use it as an example. It's also not only the knowledge but the techniques - are you able to look at a general circuit and at least get an idea of what it does?
          Hell, take amplifiers - the designs haven't changed in the last 60 years. I'm learning now a number of MOSFET circuits that I spotted in a WW2-era book on vacuum tubes. Improved, but the same idea nontheless...

          Yes I know I will need to learn quite a bit to do any kind of significant work. The thing is,
          • Teaching the theory, then the application is the right way to do it. It's also very uncommon in college now. Take a look at the typical CS major: all the time is spent learning Java or, decreasingly, C/C++. You'll get a handful of theory classes, but if you took 20 classes, 16 will be application. I used to think it was just my school that had a bad major program, but that strategy is in the majority of schools now.

            Truth is, many EE's will end up doing crap design busywork as some crap company, and the
            • Then I'm lucky I'm studying in Europe. They have an obsession with theory and don't make an as great distinction between an engineer and a scientist as US colleges do. I'm pretty much receiving an 'engineering rennaissance man' education, as I like to call it.

              Of course I have no basis for comparison (tried to transfer to a US college, didn't get in) so it could be just as bad here. As much as I dislike theory, I'm hoping it isn't...

              And to look at the opposing point of view - a person with no practical exp
    • You can only thrust so much work at kids, but the REAL learning starts happening when the kids start LEARNING FOR THEMSELVES and feel comfortable coming to the teacher with all sorts of difficult questions.

      That's basically a question of intrinsic (personal) versus extrinsic (reward/punishment based) motivation - and yes, given a choice between the two, intrinsic motivation works better every time. And I'm sure everyone's seen that in real life - a programmer who he loves writing code will code in circle
      • Oh so true, which is why I hate the concept of graded homework. Or mindlessly repetative homework. In fact, most of the common characteristics of homework in the US are just the wrong way to do it. Graded practices that take up massive amounts of out of class time and count against you if you didn't "get it". Or you could divide it up and copy off each other. Or, easier still, you could just not do it at all and learn to ignore the teacher yelling at you for it.

        I wouldn't have minded homework nearly a
      • has an aversion to anything widely considered "success" and may actually avoid, for example, finishing college or applying for high-paying jobs. The kind of person who, despite being very bright, would work at a record store for minimum wage because he "loves music."

        So anyway, my point - and I know it took a while to get there - is that excessive homework is the negative form of extrinsic motivation. Unless success is *heavily* reinforced, it provides way too much negative feedback in comparison to posit
    • All in all, teaching is not an easy job. Teaching kids to think, rather than giving them all the answers is tricky.

      Measuring the ability to think is also difficult, and so most school systems and state exams don't bother with it. Part of what's needed is novelty in the test items, or just a different type of test. Even more difficult: getting parents and students to go for a test with items that aren't exactly the same in form and content as things they've seen before.

      Also someone should compare the l

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @04:32AM (#12692165) Homepage
    The "amount" of homework means little when its content is trivial, and does not do anything but repeat something that should be obvious based on what is learned in class. Application of knowledge to a trivial task just doesn't do anything other than insult the student, however the application of the same to something even slightly challenging, is both useful for remembering the material, and good thinking practice in general.

    Of course, making homework less of a mindless chore and more an exercise in thinking means that there will be always some students, who will be unable to complete it because of their insufficient abilities and poor motivation. My response for that will be, SCREW THEM! They won't get much good from a shitty homework, either, and if they are going to drag everyone down into the horrors of rote memorization, there is always a short bus for them, and decent education for the rest. Treating everyone like a retard, accomplishes nothing positive.
    • The "amount" of homework means little when its content is trivial, and does not do anything but repeat something that should be obvious based on what is learned in class.

      On the other hand, in some areas like maths, or learning to drive a car, most students need to go through a certain number of examples in order to master a technique. Call it repetition, drilling, but it's often necessary.
      • I think the point is that doing five times as many maths problems is not going to make you five times better at maths: it's just going to piss off the bright students and frustrate the less able. There's a middle ground there.
        Clearly something is wrong in the UK and the USA's education system: that's why we're at the bottom of the social mobility league tables.
  • I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Buster Chan (755016)
    I agree totally with the findings. I've got three brothers, and three sisters. Teachers never understood -- and still don't understand -- the dangers of imposing that their students put more priority towards homework than towards family, relaxation, and social obligations.

    A good first step would be for teachers who were "only childs" to take classes about the dynamics of life with siblings. That can lead to better curriculums with workloads that each student can adapt within the balance of their lifesty
  • Well, when I was at school...

    From age 7-10, we had one subject's homework per night, estimated time 45 minutes.

    From age 11-18, we had 3 subjects per night, except Thursdays, when we had 4. Estimated time 45 minutes each.

    Luckily, I could usually do the maths in about 15 minutes, which left more time for the tedious history and English lit.

    Kids today - don't know they're born, etc. etc. back to Russia.
  • Our exams rely on 'coursework' for grades, so a parent who wants to 'help' their child can practically pass the exam for them, which the teachers love because they have their work done for them.

    The teaching profession has never grasped the mind-numbingly simple concept that if a pupil knows a topic, they don't need to keep on 'learning' it by doing homework about it.

    If teachers were to reward comprehension with exemption from homework, then they would give pupils the perfect incentive to learn. The way ou
    • The UK system is currently screwed beyond belief, has been for many years and doesn't appear to be going to get any better. Exam scores are going up, yet actual ability as measured by universities and employers is dropping.

      A-level maths, for example, got easier every year. I remember getting a load of past exam papers and comparing them: year by year, the syllabus got smaller, the questions got easier and more and more subdivided. Instead of asking one question, they would ask ten small question that lead
      • The education system in the UK is so screwed because neither party have any incentive to fix it. The Tories appeal to people who can either buy a house to get their children in to the very best state school, or can afford to sent them to a private school. As such they don't see any problem with the education system, it worked for their children, and so put no pressure on the party to raise standards. The Labour party appeals to those nearer the bottom end of the social spectrum (the self-hating Islington se
  • Anakin falls to the dark side, because Obi wan gives him all the right answers and never challenges Anakin to think about what the right answers were. ...until he finally figures it out in Episode VI, but by then, it's a bit late.
  • Too much Slashdot can be counterproductive for homework.
  • The general attitude towards school these days is pathetic. They think the teachers just assign shit so they can sit around and do nothing, or busy work. Like it or not you can memorize formulas, rules, and standards but that isn't the point. You're not supposed to just learn the material, you're supposed to learn how to APPLY the material. I can only speak from personal experience, but repitition is the only way I learn and my grades show it. I remember a trig class in high school I took. The teacher as
  • My younger brother is in 7th grade about to go into 8th grade he isn't the smartest fish in the sea but he isn't stupid either but his teachers assings 3 or 4 hours of homework every day (with some help) and then he gets even more homework every monday do at the start of the next week. My mom is about to go crazy with all the homework they give... Then they have projects... This week my brother has to build a fing kite that work 30% of his final grade... WTF... The teachergave detail instruciton and a list
  • by johansalk (818687) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @05:43AM (#12692381)
    Some countries banned it, and I entirely agree, there should be no homework, just schoolwork. There's absolutely no rational reason why schoolwork must be done at home; children can learn just as well in school. In such countries the kids would do all their schoolwork before leaving school, or, if you must use the word "homework", they do their "homework" at school(!), and once they're out for the day, that's it, they can be kids, as they should be, free for the day, and free to enjoy their afternoons and evenings.

    I still remember from my childhood the frustration of getting "homework" from 5 different teachers, each oblivious to the demands of others, and even when made aware, just simply doesn't care!

    Homework belongs back to the days when corporal punishment was okay in school. Corporal punishment, and often collective punishment of an entire class, was easily abused, with no real evidence that it actually was of any benefit or necessity overall, and so is homework, a relic of a bygone era that still persists.

  • by t482 (193197) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @05:59AM (#12692433) Homepage
    After I graduated from college I decided to take a year off and went to Taiwan to teach young kids. Most of them were about 8 years old and went to school from 7AM until 6 PM and then went home and did 3-4 hours of homework. Weekends were made up of bushibans of math, science and english.

    Does repetition work? Yes mostly. Learning to write Chinese is best taught by repetition. Any sport is best learned by repetition.

    Being a brilliant scientist is that learned by repetition? No. The important thing seems to me is to leave some time for creativity and that is one thing Asian schools (assuming Korea/Singapore/Japan are similar) don't seem to get.

    Understanding patterns, applying information from another part of your brain and another field to the task at hand etc. This is where creativity comes from. I don't think it can 100% be taught - but I think it can be inspired by good teachers.

    Where are the Asian Nobel prize winners? How come Taiwan can take 60% of the US Electrical Engineering Phds (90s stat) but not produce top line physics research? That is probabably a question for another day.
    • My experience in Japan directly contradicts this study. The high school students there got far more than 1 hour of math homework per week (which is what the study lists as the average.) Like Taiwan, they did spend a great deal of time in bushibans and their homework load was often what I considered excessive. My students (I taught mostly at a junior college) seemed to have their brains completely drained of creativity; when I told them to 'make something up' they'd look at me as if I had square eyeballs. I
  • From my reading, the whole point of the article is that children who bring assignments home to an environment supportive of education will over time outpace their peers whose home lives undermine learning. I think it is this focus on "equity" (meaning, trying to develop across-the-board mediocrity) that is what is wrong with the education establishment, especially in the U.S.

    Compare two types of homes. The first -- be it rich or poor, or somewhere in between -- has parents that stress the importance of

  • The fact is that the TESTS at the basic schooling system and SOME of the homework is exacly opposite of the things that helps you to remember and understand things, instead they test the superficial memorized information. I spend my schooling by doing 1/10th of the assigments I've been given but understanding the issues instead. I was interested in understanding things not playing around with some stupid questions. At university level, I've tried to do it the HARD way, instead of the way I was used to and I
  • Two grad students
  • My former high school had a guideline that you should spend twice as long on homework as you do in the classroom, and virtually every teacher followed that guideline.

    Let's do the math.

    Every day, you had 348 minutes (5 hours, 48 minutes) of instruction. Lunch, passing time, announcements, etc. push the total time up to 7.5 hours. Using the 2:1 homework:class time ratio, you were expected to spend 11.6 hours a DAY on homework. We're now up to over 19 hours.

    Now, factor in transportation time, eating, gettin
  • From TFA: Most teachers worldwide are not making efficient use of homework, said David P. Baker, professor of education and sociology. They assign homework mostly as drill, to improve memorization of material either in math, science or the humanities. While drills and repetitive exercises have their place in schooling, homework may not be that place.

    So if you asign homework where they do not do the drill, but instead have to think, more homework may be productive.

    What most schools do not understand is th
  • This article made me laugh. Yes, Japanese kids aren't given a lot of 'homework', because they are expected to study outside of school on their own - and they do. Most Japanese students have a two hour club of some sort after school, followed by a trip to 'Juku', or cram school, where they prepare for upcoming placement tests for a few hours. Many college-bound seniors drop their club activities so they can spend even more hours in Juku. They also spending about 60 days more per year in school than Ameri
  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @08:10AM (#12693145) Journal
    I've been saying that since elementary school. Kids today have too much homework. It's too repetitive and uninsightful to be of any use.

    I gave up on doing homework around the beginning of high school, except for the minimum needed to pass, and everything turned out fine. I got into college on test scores, and made strategic use of the grading options so that the classes with the most homework would have the least effect on my GPA.
  • by i41Overlord (829913) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @08:28AM (#12693328)
    When I was in school, I hated homework and didn't do it. I was able to get straight A's on my tests from the lessons in class, so I felt that I didn't need to do hours of brainless, repetitive work at home.

    The teachers' flawed reasoning was that it wasn't fair to the other students that I was able to get A's on tests without doing homework, while some of the other students had to work very hard to get C's.

    Honestly, though, is that my fault? Should I be held accountable for the poor performance of the other students? My responsibility was to make sure that *I* learn and prove that I learned by passing the tests, which I did. And the other students' responsibility was to make sure that they learned the material and passed the tests. If they need to do more studying to get the grades, that's what they have to do... but it's not what I had to do.

  • personally (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @09:38AM (#12694010) Journal
    I'd rather see the school day extended to match real-life work hours (0800-1700) with a minimum of homework outside of that.

    1) it gets kids conditioned to what they should expect in real life.
    2) the school day is only about 30% (or less) actual work right now, most of it is mindless and useless repetition. it's not like this extension of the day would be grueling
    3) IMO the time between the end of school and the end of (parents') workday is when you have the most 'issues' with school-age children
    4) teachers could work a full day. I hear a lot of teachers complain that they need 'prep' time - well, most of the schools around here are DESERTED by 4 pm, and if you did year-round school teachers could use the 1 wk/mo or 2 wk/quarter to do their 'prep' instead of painting houses all summer.

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