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

Student Made His Homework Optional

A few weeks ago, I read a story in examiner.com, about a student, now 25, and a cum-laude graduate from college, who made his homework optional, both in high school and in college.

Intrigued, I emailed his mother, Julia Rhodes, to find out a little more. She told me that her son, who had been diagnosed with a learning disability when he was young, was “smart as a whip,” but struggled in school. His grades in elementary school reflected his refusal to do homework and when he went to high school, he decided that he would negotiate a deal so that he wouldn’t have to do homework. “A great communicator,” her son talked to his teachers and made deals with them. He told them he would help them, tutor other students, and do well on his tests, but that he just couldn’t face doing the “mundane, day-to-day work.” And his teachers, eager to keep the personable athlete in their Sonora, California, high school, agreed. Even through college, her son negotiated deals with teachers.

Rhodes, a single mother and a teacher for many years, instilled in her son “the belief that he could do anything. I didn’t care about his grades,” she told me. “Not everyone has to be an A student. I’d seen too many driven kids, and they weren’t happy or passionate about what they were doing. I just wanted my son to believe in himself and I helped him learn how to advocate for himself.”

From My Mailbox–A Former Graduate Student Speaks Out

I received the following email from a former-graduate student:

A Former Graduate Student Speaks Out

I admire your mission. The subject of how I spent my life doing homework and what turned out to be worthless schooling is a subject I often cry and get angry about, but a past situation I would for one like to make up for, and also a situation that I would like to help others on. I am turning 30 now, and have a lot of living to catch up on and have wasted many of my best years.

Actually my grade school, middle school, and high school were mostly fairly run and had opportunities for the smart and driven students, but they forced students to do work whether they liked it or not. The harder courses were taught by efficient, inspired, and helpful teachers. The dumber courses were run like penitentiaries. I myself was a very smart and driven student, eager to get work done early.

The problem that I and most students faced was that doing our work better and faster only led to getting placed into harder courses that assigned even more work. There was no incentive to reach completion since we were like hamsters caught in a wheel. The faster we ran, the more the wheel turned. The dumber courses did not teach anything, but just wasted time, and assigned about the same amount of work- just dumber and more repetitive. Students who were non-compliant or who failed certain mandatory tests were forced into yet more schooling, summer classes, and force-fed education-–which we all feared.
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From my Mailbox–A Seventh Grader Speaks Out

I got this compelling email the other day from a Connecticut middle school student:

Dear Sara,

The life of a middle school girl is one of total chaos–cliques, peer pressure, friendships, guys, emotions, and lots lots LOTS of homework. I don’t understand why children are expected to complete assignments that have NOTHING to do with their goals for life. For example, I want to be an author when I grow up, and I’m always working toward that goal. WHEN in my life will I ever be required to do algebra? Why must I complete 50 algebra problems a night, when I COULD be working on my journal? Doing so many problems only makes me hate math more than ever. Plus, when these assignments are graded, I always end up getting the last twenty or so wrong. By this point of the assignment, I am so completely drained that I do the rest haphazardly. THAT is not helping my education. I usually eat dinner while completing homework, because I have so much of it. Therefore, sometimes my dinner is a bowl of Captain Crunch or a bag of chips. By the time I actually have time to myself, it is 9:30, and I have to go to bed. It doesnt matter though. I’m usually up until over 11:00, worrying about tests, quizzes, and whether or not I did all my homework correctly. That is not a healthy lifestyle, but I’m gonna have to deal with it for seven more years.

I’d like to thank you for your incredible website. It has really comforted me to know that other people feel this way about homework- especially adults. Thank you for reading this!

From My Mailbox–A High School Senior Speaks Out

Here’s an email I received from a senior at Camarillo High School in California:

Dear Sara:

As a high school student I believe most homework is just a waste of time.

Simply put, a lot of the work can actually be done in class or not done at all (I’ll get to that later). Homework is just used as a substitute due to ineffective teaching methods and teachers wasting time.

Most homework assignments are just pointless: fill in the blank questions, word seaches, crossword puzzles, drill assignments, etc. It does not help review the material. It’s just used as a tool for teachers to figure out how to grade. Bad students simply won’t do the homework. Good students will do the homework getting nothing out of it.

Excess homework has created a lazy generation. It teaches students it’s okay to cheat, copy off, or even fake assignments. The more homework teachers give, the more tension there is in the class, the more tension, the more behavioral problems and lower grades students have. It’s a lose for the student, a lose for the teacher. Since there is too much homework, after homework is finished, kids just like to watch TV.

This year I pretty much have no homework. Since my calculus teacher only assigns very few problems, I actually learn how to do them correctly.

Lots of homework is the root of student laziness, not the solution. Having better teaching methods in class is the solution, not homework.

Thank you for your website.

A Fifth Grader’s “Case Against Homework”

The New York Daily News recently ran an opinion piece by fifth grader Benjamin Berrafato, “Fifth-graders of the nation, unite against homework.”

He wrote:

Homework is assigned to students like me, without our permission. Teachers expect us to do homework, even though we’d rather not. It can be hard sometimes. We get punished if we don’t do it. If we do it, we get no reward; we just don’t get punished.

Simply put, if we don’t, we get punished, and if we do, our reward is … nothing.

Thus, homework is slavery. Slavery was abolished with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 6, 1865.

So, every school in America has been illegally run for the past 143 YEARS. That’s something to think about.

Homework is cruel, inhumane, stressful and unhealthy. It should be outlawed.

Read the piece in the New York Daily News.

A Tenth Grader Speaks Out

I am a grade ten high school student and I usually make sure to try my best to do my homework and give it a good effort. I still have to say, the amount is RIDICULOUS! I wish my parents were just as supportive as many of you.

Research has proved that repetitive questions, ones that make up quite a large percentage of our daily homework, only make children forget the formula/method etc. they are supposed to be learning.

And wasn’t the ORIGINAL meaning of homework supposed to be “Work assigned in class that the student did not complete”, not “Work assigned purposely just to go home and waste all our free time”?

The school boards keep telling us that gym class is very important, but we still need to get physical activity after school. Then they tell us that we need to spend time with family. THEN they say that we need to care about our hygiene and shower/bathe/get washed daily. How do they expect us to do all that AND still get free time?

It’s just not fair.

A Tenth Grader Speaks Out

My name is Maya and I would like to thank you for making this website to inform people of this problem. I am a tenth grade student who is currently weighed down with so much homework I can barely handle it. I’ve been talked into higher level classes to better my chance at getting into college, and just tonight I have to read 10 pages of my textbook and take notes, create a five paragraph response, write the first two paragraphs of my research paper, 23 questions of math, and a biology worksheet, all of which was just assigned last class. That’s only half of my homework, not considering the next four classes on my other day. On top of being a generally anxious person and suffering from panic attacks, as soon as I get home from school I’m stressed with tons of work and get to bed late, when I have to wake up at 5:30 the next morning. I often find myself depressed and even suffering physically at my lack of free time, which I usually use to read and catch a few more hours of sleep. I hope we all can bring this matter to everyone’s attention, not as a complaining teenager, but as a hardworking student who just can’t deal with it all anymore. Thank you!

A High School Junior Speaks Out–Dear Secretary of Education

I think it’s fitting that today’s post is by a student who is seeking change at the very top.

Sheeva Seyfi, a junior at Laguna Hills High School in Southern California, sent me a letter she’s considering sending to the Department of Education. She very articulately outlines the problems so many high schoolers face and I hope you take the time to read it. Of course, I encouraged her to send it. I also encouraged her to get together some of her classmates so they can talk about, and find solutions to, the problems of stress at her school. (I hear from dozens of students just like Sheeva every day. I hope you are moved to do everything you can to try to change policies that are harming our children in so many ways.)

I always ask students who write to me to tell me a little about themselves, their schools, and what they’d do if they didn’t spend so much time on school work. This is what Sheeva told me:

Laguna Hills is a midsized public school with around 1800 students. Outside of school, playing soccer usually takes up most of my time. When I’m not playing soccer, I sometimes take part in a youth group dedicated to organizing philanthropy projects. I actually do enjoy reading and writing, as long as it’s a book or prompt of my choice. However, like any other high schooler,on the weekend I do my best to make time for friends or simple relaxing activities such as going to the movies and much needed couch/tv time.

Soccer is a great passion of mine, and playing in college has been a life long dream. To do so, playing on club team is basically mandatory. Due to increased homework, decreased sleep, and unmeasurable stress, I was forced to quit club soccer. Rather then spending weekends on the open grass field, I have been tucked behind my desk in my room finding questions to answers I will never again be asked after the test.

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Zine: A Students’ Guide to Taking Back the Classroom

Two years ago, right after The Case Against Homework was published, I heard from Dylan Baird, then a 16-year-old junior at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was writing an article on homework for his school newspaper.

Now, Dylan and two friends, Breton Sheridan and Tom Stokes, have published a zine, “A Students’ Guide to Taking Back the Classroom”, which outlines the positive effects of increased student autonomy. The purpose of the zine is “not only to educate, but to call for cooperation between students and teachers in order to create a new classroom culture of respect, autonomy, and motivation.”

Please take the time to read the zine. The research and writing is impressive; the call to action should be responded to.

One of the criticisms always leveled at students who don’t want to do homework is that they’re “lazy” and headed for a life of drudgery at a low-paying job. Of course, these criticisms are baseless. In fact, many of the students I hear from are self-motivated, highly articulate, well-read, and passionate. Dylan, Breton, and Tom are shining examples.

In case you’re wondering where they are now, this is what they told me: “Breton Sheridan, age 18, is enrolled at Temple University and is pursuing his interest in education both radically, though current zine projects, and more conventionally, as he looks into a 5 year teaching program at Temple. Tom Stokes, age 18, is currently a freshman at Yale University and is pursing his love for art, as well as enjoying the diverse class options at Yale. Dylan Baird, age 18, recently returned from an 11 week road trip around the country and has now committed full time to working on various student empowerment projects.”

Let them know what you think of their zine at: structureproject@gmail.com. And, they would be thrilled if you distribute their zine wherever you can.

AND HAVE A HAPPY AND STRESS-FREE HOLIDAY. STOP HOMEWORK WILL RETURN ON JANUARY 5.

From the Mouth of a Seventh-Grader

Adam, a seventh-grader from New Hampshire, wrote me an eloquent diatribe against homework:

I must be completely honest with you. I thought I had it bad, but reading some of your archives for summer assignments is terrible. My learning environment is second rate, my books date back to the mid 80s, my teachers are old enough to retire and crab at you all day, my school’s maximum capacity of students is supposedly gonna exceed by 46 next year. My fellow peers are real rebels and have lost their learning attitudes thanks to homework and studying. Because our test grades are so low, we must do an 8-10 sentence paragraph for every subject (even gym). Worse, whether yours is bad or good, you have to read yours to the class. It’s discouraging.

My math grades at the beginning of the year were superb. I was on the honor role! My average score was 97, but as school continued and the year progressed, homework did too. I’m now given two hard assignments for math per day. And guess what? As homework became harder and more plentiful, my grades decreased. Now, I hate school and want to drop out and be homeschoooled! In 1-6th grade, school was fun. Now it’s a pain and even in chemistry, my fav subject, I have to rush and ignore the teacher to secretly get tonight’s homework done to have enough time to play on the volley ball team. And guess what again! My 97 in math is now a 68. My highest score this past semester was a 78.

Down with homework!

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