Guest Blogger: An Eleventh Grader Speaks Out

You might have noticed that I am featuring more guest writers than I did last year. So whether you’re a student, teacher, mental health professional, or parent, please send me your thoughts. Because I think it’s important to see students’ work in its original form, I don’t edit it or correct grammar and spelling errors. I don’t think teachers see enough of students’ original work. (Too much of it has been gone over by parents, peers, or tutors before students pass their work in.)

Today’s guest blogger is Jordan Swogger, a junior at Calvary Christian Academy in Cresaptown, Maryland. Jordan wrote and presented this speech for his Speech/Writing class. Needless to say, his classmates loved it.


by Jordan Swogger, 11th grader

Did you know that in 1948, a national survey of high school students showed that the average amount of time spent on homework was three to four hours per week? In 1957, the American government became concerned that U.S. students were not keeping up with their fellow Russian students, and so made a movement to increase homework and studies in order to catch up with the Russians, who had launched the first artificially made satellite, Sputnik, into space. After the end of the communist crisis in the 1990’s, the U.S. was still a strong advocate for keeping up the large amounts of homework, and so continued to give students much more homework. In my opinion, the level of homework given today is far more than is necessary, and is bordering on the unhealthy.

My problem with homework is not in the idea of homework itself, but in the amount of it, and what we are required to do. Also, homework takes up time. Think about it for a second. We get up in the morning. On average, we spend seven hours in school, not counting extra-curricular activities and events, or after-school
tasks we need to accomplish. Then, we get home and do our homework. Usually, it’s a given that the homework will take at least an hour, if not two, three, four, or maybe even more. I feel that homework cuts into the already limited time we have with our families. In addition, sometimes the homework we receive could be called “busy work”, not really serving any purpose only to take up time. Research has shown that when homework is given in large quantities, that it becomes harmful rather than helpful. However, homework can be a good thing if given in the right way and in the right quantities.

Solutions to homework problems are simple; however they may not be readily accepted. Cutting down on busy work is one step. Secondly, the teachers must realize that they are not the only ones giving homework. Teacher communication is critical in this aspect, as what one teacher’s “small amount” of homework could pile up into one large amount once you take all the subjects into consideration. More time in class to complete homework would be a good step to take, however usually the teacher must explain a skill before the student can work on something. Lastly, there is the “10 Minute Rule”, a commonly accepted rule that homework should be given every ten minutes for every grade number increase. For example, if the student is in 1st grade, then he should have ten minutes of homework, and if he is in second, then twenty minutes of homework, and so on. Even up until the twelfth grade, this would only amount to 120 minutes (or two hours) of homework, which is not bad at all in comparison to the amount of homework usually assigned.

In conclusion, I do not believe that homework should be totally abolished—as homework grades are usually good for improving grade averages, provided the student does it—but it should be considerably lowered to the point where homework will once again become something helpful to students, and not something they dread. If these changes are made, then I believe that the educational landscape of the country will be changed for the better.

9 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: An Eleventh Grader Speaks Out

  1. Excellent post! It’s great to hear a voice from the ‘front lines’ of homework, especially one so clear and articulate. (Where was a voice like that when I was in 11th grade?!)

    One idea Jordan brought up was spending in-class time on homework rather than out-of-school time. A good place to start pushing this would be in math classes, where it truly does make sense to do daily warm-up type exercises. My oldest son’s 7th & 8th grade math teacher (same guy) kept homework to a minimum by keeping the warmups in class and reserving the end of class time for completeing exercises.

    This might not translate as well to courses where larger bodies of work are involved – projects & presentations involving more research, for example – but starting in one subject area might have impact on others if it takes hold.

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  2. I strong agree to what you have to say Jordan. I send at least 2+ hours every night on homework.

    A point that was brought up while in school was that if homework takes you more than an hour then you are having problems. I am an Honors student at Allegany High School and it takes me that long.

    Another thing is that when teachers have taught for a while they usually have a answer keys for work sheets so they dont really know how long the work really take s and how much is envolved in a student understanding the concept taught in order to complete the assignment. Esspecially when you have a bad teacher.

    Andrew Murphy
    9th grader

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  3. So, I’m confused. Homework seems like a symptom not the disease, ie the issue is how to get everyone to learn what’s planned for the school year.

    If there’s no homework, would it be better just to keep students in school until they finished their assignment. So, if school ends at 3 pm, students go to their home rooms and do their assignments and then leave. Some students (usually the smarter ones) might finish in one to two hours. Other students might 4, 5 or 6 hours of after school effort. Then there would be no homework – true? And everyone would have their assignments done by the next day – true?

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  4. You’ve highlighted, Anonymous, why homework is not a useful learning tool…..because the same homework for one may take 20 minutes, for another 1.5 hours. A teacher cannot give the same homework to the whole class every day, based on the lesson she is teaching on that day. Better to tackle a topic in depth, in class and interact with all students to better gauge how they are doing.

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  5. Anonymous,

    The issue is not “how to get everyone to learn what’s planned for the school year” but how to teach the lessons in the time allotted. The responsibility should be on the teachers, not the students.

    If the teachers don’t have time to teach the prescribed curriculum they must either work on THEIR time management skills or get the curriculum changed.

    I’m not allowed to send my unfinished work home with my clients, why should it be acceptable for teachers?

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  6. Just a quick followup to my earlier note…..I have been traveling a lot over the last 5 – 6 years and have noticed the children of my foreign co-workers spend substantially more hours on homework than the average US student. And, I must say, when we interview students, they do seem to know their math & science much better than the US students. In Japan I was told that everyone considers math to be so important that they devote extra study hours outside of school in order to master the subject. So, it’s interesting, here in the US we have a movement to decrease homework and at the same time we seem to have continuously declining test scores. So apparently there is a correlation but I’m not sufficiently versed in statistics to comment on whether it’s a cause & effect situation.

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  7. Anonymous- Japan has been in an economic slump for approx. fifteen years. Apparently there is no correlation between a robust economy and test scores!

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  8. Those kids in other countries also spend less time in school than our children do. They start school later (usually at 6 or 7 years of age, not 4 and 5 like ours do) and they sometimes end their schoolday at lunch time or early afternoon. They have more holidays throughout the year as well.

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