Stop Homework a resource created by Sara Bennett, co-author of The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It.

Archive for Students Speak Out

A High School Student Speaks Out – Why I Cheat

A sophomore wrote the following Comment, which explains not only why students cheat, but gives a pretty good rundown of the types and amount of work many high schoolers get each night.

Why I Cheat
by a High School Sophomore

To start off, I’m a sophomore in a relatively prestigious private institution; I have an IQ over 180. I don’t need to cheat. But why wouldn’t I? Hell, I don’t bother on tests, I get all the answers right before most kids in my class, but the sheer volume of homework I receive every night is absolutely ridiculous! Tell me, if I’m already investing 8 hours in school, 2 in sports, 2 in other ECs, how in the hell do my teachers expect me to add 6 more hours to homework?

I’m not stupid, it’s not a matter of me being slow with my work, there just aren’t enough hours in a day for school, rugby practice, play rehearsal, and that much homework! I’ll give a run-down of what I’m supposed to do tonight:

AP U.S. History: Take (meticulous) notes on chapters 40?–?43 (the end of the text, thank [insert deity here].) Prepare for in-class essay on any thing that occurred during Roosevelt’s presidency. Okay, so that’s not so bad, but we still have another 6 classes to cover.

English II: Read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and be prepared for a test tomorrow or the next day. Two work sheets on Moby Dick. I should probably also start on the autobiography due next week, since I can’t really cheat on that.

Latin II: Translate two books of Jason, test tomorrow.

Algebra II/Trig: 78 problems covering material that our teacher has conveniently for gotten to teach us.

Biology: Not too bad, just read and summarize a few articles from Scientific American and write up a lab report.

Gym (yes, gym): Look up all sorts of vocabulary concerning sports that nobody has played since the middle ages, and memorize it in two days

AP Stat: Busyworkbusyworkbusyworkbusyworkbusywork

How the staff a) expects students to do this much work while maintaining sleep/sanity (luckily I’m an insomniac and I went insane long, long ago) and b) thinks that any body does some of this ridiculous @%!&, is absolutely beyond me.

The only kids who don’t cheat are the kinds in all fundamentals classes who don’t know any better. If I could begin to describe to you the network of cheating that runs beneath this school, well, you probably wouldn’t really be all that surprised, but it’s still ridiculous.

Anyway, I feels good to get this off my chest. I predict that nobody will ever read this rant, but if you do, and by some miracle you made it here to the end, please know that this post was fueled by 12 sleepless nights, a fever, and a mos­quito that has been in my room for the past hour that is pissing me the hell off.

Thank you, good night.

A Teenager Speaks Out – Teens Need More Sleep

I came across this nicely written piece by a teenager in his local newspaper, The Estacada News.

Zzz…Teenagers need more sleep
School board should consider late start for high school, junior high students

It is time for the Estacada School District to switch the school starting time of the high school and junior high schools with that of the grade schools. Today’s teens are sleep-deprived.

There are many studies that clearly show that teens need more sleep that they are getting. I believe that the junior high and high school classes should begin later in the morning to help solve this problem.

At present, classes for high school and junior high school students begin at 7:45 a.m., and grade school classes begin at 9:05 a.m. I would like to propose switching these two times. My reasons: Teenagers have more homework, more extra-curricular activities and require more sleep than younger children. This change would give the older students the extra time for the sleep they need to succeed.

Read the rest of the piece here.

A Tenth Grader Speaks Out: Slowly Strangled to Silence

At the end of the school year, I received the following speech from a 16-year-old male student, who is now a junior at a public school in California. He enjoys playing drums, wants to go to Pepperdine University, and told me, “I don’t mean to brag, but the class liked my speech most.” I hope his teachers listened to what he had to say.

Slowly Strangled to Silence: Homework
by a 10th grader

“Where did my life go?” asked the boy who was killed by homework. As young people growing up, teenagers (like anyone else) should be able to enjoy life, not being harassed every week by the obnoxious voice which taunts “Oh! You can’t go today. You’ve got that huge project to do…remember?” Unfortunately in the society that individuals live in today, (honors and AP) students are bombarded with ever-increasing amounts of homework each and every day. Where is the good in making students spend their days and weekends on a pile of work?

Of course, one might argue that homework is beneficial to a student’s learning and journey to college. Yes, homework is indeed beneficial and even essential to students in their road to success, but extensive amounts of it are unnecessary and harmful. Aside from taking away time from relaxing and being a kid, large bundles of homework, for many who choose to take school seriously and do their work, harm a student’s well-being.

Many students have experienced sleep deprivation and severe stress because of their large work load. Going to sleep past twelve o’clock everyday is extremely unhealthy. Research shows that sleep deprivation can lead to a weakened immune system, depression, irritability, and decreased alertness and ability to focus. If teachers do not care enough about their students’ physical health, then they should at least recognize that they are also hurting themselves by assigning hours of homework. As mentioned above, students who are not getting enough sleep will have decreased alertness and ability to focus. This means that their grade in the class is bound to drop. Because the student’s grades will suffer, the teacher also suffers as he/she is responsible for teaching the students.

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“My Marks Were Torn to Shreds” For Failure to Complete Homework

A few weeks ago, I heard from Etta Kralovec, author of The End of Homework, that she is looking for stories about students whose grades were lowered due to homework incompletion. Have you sent her yours?

I passed on this email I received from a 19-year-old Australian high school graduate, who is very articulate about why he didn’t do homework and what that has meant.

Dear Sara,

Thank you very much for your strong opinion and professional stance against homework, and most certainly bringing to light the harm homework can do to children. Now, although I am aware that your petitioning is only for elementary years, I wish to share with you my experience, and how homework can and does affect many talented individuals who are not provided with the proper education stimuli and are just thrown an enormous pile of ‘homework’.

Personally, I am a 19 year old Australian male who has declined doing homework for most of my natural born life,

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A Tenth Grader Speaks Out–”My Curiosity and Desire to Learn is Constantly Shrinking” Because of Excessive Homework

About a year ago, I posted a piece by a New York City private school 10th grader, I love School, but it’s Killing Me. I was reminded of her when I received a call from the mother of a New York City 10th grader, whose daughter was spending 6 hours on homework a night and was both sleep deprived and starting to dislike school. The mother let her daughter stay home from school for a few days to catch up on sleep and notified the school that accommodations would be needed so that her daughter’s homework load would be lessened. When it was clear that the school wasn’t interested in reducing its homework load, despite the concerns raised by many students, the 10th grader (with her parents’ approval) decided to withdraw. Here’s the letter she wrote to the school:

A Tenth Grader Speaks Out–”My Curiosity and Desire to Learn is Constantly Shrinking” Because of Excessive Homework

I hope you will understand that I am more comfortable expressing my feelings through this letter than a conversation in your office. Believe me this is a difficult letter to sit down and write. I am devastated by the way things have progressed and yet I know I am making the right decision. I would like to explain my reasons for wanting to leave your New York City private school.

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Rebellious Compliance

Alfie Kohn, the author of The Homework Myth, sent me the homework of the nine-year-old son of a friend, who was required to put the weekly list of spelling words into sentences:

1. I am sooooo aggravated about my homework situation that I can’t think of anymore sentences.
2. I want to decline this homework so badly.
3. I despise my homework situation.
4. My homework situation is disturbing me.
5. My second encounter with homework is sickening.
6. I wasn’t to establish an anti-paper club, A.P. for short.
7. I want to forbid homework after 8:00 p.m.

From the Mouth of a Ninth Grader

Dear Sara,

I’ve seen your website, and I just want to say how grateful I am that someone out there besides my friends and I understand how awful homework is and how it really doesn’t help us learn at all.

I’m a freshman at a competitive public high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’ve always spent large amounts of time on homework; last year, I spent maybe 2 1/2 hours on homework on average. This year, it’s much worse. On good nights, I spend maybe 3 1/2 hours on homework. On especially bad nights, I spend up to 4 1/2 hours doing homework.

All my teachers give horrible amounts of work; my math teacher gives us up to 30 long, complicated math problems, which takes me a while because I’m not particularly good at math, and I check my work because I’m afraid he’ll give us a pop quiz on it the next day. My history teacher gives long, grueling assignments, mostly involving reading long textbook chapters and then doing worksheets on them. My English teacher gives huge amounts of work; we have to memorize 200 vocabulary words a month, complete terribly long essays he grades meticulously, do worksheets on a novel we’re reading exclusively in class, AND read a novel that’s supposed to be read exclusively at home. It’s horrible, because English has always been my favorite subject, and now I dread

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An Eighth Grader Speaks Out

Kira, an thirteen-year-old eighth grader in a public school in Pennsylvania, sent me the following email:

I just want to say I support your website completely, and everything on it is true, and relates to my school experience. My family gets really stressed out, to the point of tears, screaming, or yelling, etc. at least 3/5 school nights, and I believe homework’s one of the reasons we are all often stressed and high-strung.

I think school is making everyone very unhappy and unsatisfied at my school. We often have very little time to socialize or have any fun (we are only 13!), and we are always doing our homework all night, and having to go to bed early. I go through the whole long day half falling asleep because I am so tired from getting up so early and staying up too late doing homework. Also, we carry extremely heavy loads in our backpacks. I have back pains now and am really tense from carrying that up and down stairs every day.

I think the system is ridiculous. School is already murdering my childhood, and giving me little time for fun, but with that little time I’m reviewing everything I learned in school until at least 8 PM. It’s depressing, insane, and, erm, yes. It makes me mad.

Let me say, I would have written a lot more and given a whole lot of points here, but I just finished my homework (its 9:00 PM), and I have to go to sleep by ten every night because I have to get up at 5: 45 AM to make it to the bus to school. And, oh, I just remembered some more homework I’ve got to get done.

A High School Senior Speaks Out–The Education System is Cheating Me

The Education System is Cheating Me
by a high school senior from southern California

I’m a high school senior now. I live in an urban community, meaning that schools in my town are embarrassingly underprivileged. All my life I feel that I’ve been cheated by the traditional education system. All students do is zone out on lectures, do class activities, and then go home with homework. My younger brother suffered so dearly during elementary school and the family would be up past 10pm shouting criticisms, shedding tears, then leaving the rest for the morning as we ate breakfast. Although the whole system is flawed, homework is possibly the most responsible for failing and loss of interest.

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Welcome Back (and The AP Song)

Welcome back to Stop Homework. I was really gratified to see that, while I was taking a break from blogging, people were still stopping by, commenting, sending me emails, and talking to each other in the Comments. I especially liked the sharing of ideas, the recommending of articles, and the support people offer each other.

One person recommended adding a section where readers can post articles. It’s a great idea but it isn’t feasible. So please send me articles you’d like to see me post. I’ll blog about them and then I’ll file them under Resources.

And, to start off the school year with something fun, listen to this song by Nathalie, an eleventh grader from Princeton, New Jersey, who wrote it for a friend who had to take the AP test on her birthday.

Wouldn’t it be great if every student started sending the lyrics around? Maybe educators would take notice and listen.

Here are the lyrics (but I highly recommend listening:

The AP Song
by Nathalie

You would judge me
On the accuracy of my best guess
But you cannot budge me
I don’t want to take this AP test

And my free responses
Will be mainly composed of pure BS
No, I don’t want to take this AP test

And it’s even my birthday
But the College Board doesn’t care about me
Oh, what a Thursday!
I’d really rather not take this AP.

Since I live in Princeton
My neighbors all work for ETS
They don’t know how I hate them
And especially their stupid test

I should be studying
And as procrastination goes, this is far from the best
But I’ll forgo a review book to sing that
“I don’t want to take this AP test”

I paid 95 dollars
And I’ve never regretted an expenditure more
But the check has been written
So I’d better get at least a four

And it’s even my birthday
But the College Board doesn’t care about me
Oh, what a Thursday!
I’d really rather not take this AP.

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