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.

62 thoughts on “A Fifth Grader’s “Case Against Homework”

  1. Hmm … I’d take it easy with the comparisons to slavery. You could offend a lot of people with that.

    Maybe a better comparison is to child labor, which was a huge issue in this country.

    It is astonishing how much effort is expended by children and their parents to keep the homework mill going. And for what? If you complain that most of the homework doesn’t even help your child learn, you get the response that it doesn’t matter whether your child is learning or not — the point is to force the child to comply, so the child learns how to do what she’s told without any complaint or resistance. This is often called the “hidden curriculum” of school.

    I say, let’s bring it out in the open! In the wealthy district I live in, we’d find that some of our best and brightest students are majoring in Compliance, with a minor in Sleep Deprivation and a special interest in Conformity. My own daughter had excellent grades while majoring in Anxiety and Depression, with a minor in Despair.

    I dunno … I think I’m talking myself into homeschooling …


  2. I agree, comparing homework to slavery is maybe not the best comparison. I think child labor is a stretch as well. Ten minutes (or if the rule of thumb is followed, ten minutes per grade level) of practice never hurt anyone.

    I think it is very interesting how parents will speak out and, for lack of a better word, critize and scrutinize teachers, when this is really not their call, but the administrations restricitions and rules and regulations.
    Take up your concerns and gripes with your school board, believe it or not, teachers do this all the time. Our voices are just not enough.


  3. Heather wrote:

    I agree, comparing homework to slavery is maybe not the best comparison.


    I agree with FedUpMom, above.

    I think child labor is a stretch as well.

    I do not. When I watched my fifth grader with five hours of homework who isn’t allowed to play outside or read a book for pleasure, the comparison is right on target. It’s not optional, the child had no say, child labor is the most fitting comparison. And child labor is illegal. The more we tie it in to child labor, I believe the more potent our argument will become.


    Ten minutes (or if the rule of thumb is followed, ten minutes per grade level) of practice never hurt anyone.


    Heather, you seem to be stuck on this ten minute per grade rule. If it was only ten minutes, I wouldn’t have expended this much energy on this blog. I’ve probably written to what amounts to a book by now.

    It’s not ten minutes, Heather. At least it wasn’t/isn’t at my daughter’s various school programs. We’ve already discussed here how GT kids can get five times more homework than kids in regular programs. As my daughter states, I want harder, not more, harder not more. The best GT programs know how to do that but the only one we’ve found that truly value sleep, where the kids are passionate about what they are learning is Johns Hopkins CTY, a summer program my daughter adores.


    I think it is very interesting how parents will speak out and, for lack of a better word, critize and scrutinize teachers, when this is really not their call,

    Heather, I think I can speak for most of the parents on this blog when I say that we don’t just go around idly criticizing and scrutinizing teachers. I know I started out very respectful and gracious. I wish I could say the teachers returned that kindness.

    When it comes to our most precious possessions, we have every right to make this call. It’s our home life and you’ve managed to take up all of it. All of it. Afternoons, evenings, nights, the wee hours of the morning, holidays, vacations, summer.

    Get off the ten minute kick. You’re in a dream world. In 6th grade, the teachers kept repeating this mantra, it’s an hour and a half unless you’re a perfectionist. Hello. Many gifted kids are perfectionists. Adjust to the population you were hired to teach. And it wasn’t an hour and a half. By your ten minute rule, Heather, they’re already over by thirty minutes.

    I thought it just took my daughter who took that long because she has ADD and is perfectionist. Then I started talking to the other parents. The kids were up till midnight, trying to figure out college level assignments. I know it takes my daughter longer, we know it takes ADD-ers three times longer. If 6th grade homework was an hour, it would have taken her three hours. When homework is six hours for everyone, what’s an ADD kid to do? Spend 18 hours at home doing homework? At that point, she wouldn’t have time to go to school!

    It’s out of control, Heather. And it’s going to take the parents to bring this discussion into the light because no one else is doing it.

    but the administrations restricitions and rules and regulations. Take up your concerns and gripes with your school board,

    In fact, parents on this blog have done exactly that. Sometimes you just want to let a teacher know it’s too much. Isn’t that what they always tell us? Talk to the teacher first and if that gets you nowhere, then work your way up the ladder

    believe it or not, teachers do this all the time. Our voices are just not enough.


    And that is why we are chiming in, to strengthen this chorus.


  4. About the 10-minute rule…Assuming a teacher really sticks to that, how do you discern how long it actually takes? Is time needed for pondering, reflecting, redoing, finding materials, does the child write/type at a slower pace. Do they make frequent typos, or do they need to erase alot, or recopy? Is the student penalized if the work doesn’t meet some standard of neatness? Honestly, I don’t think most teachers really give it that much thought when they hand out a worksheet. I sure didn’t.


  5. Good heavens. I am a teacher who does NOT support homework for elementary students. However, letters like this held up as an example for why there should not be homework don’t help the cause much. I mean really, according to this child’s letter, compulsory education would be slavery, period. Making my child clear the dinner dishes is slavery. After all, he doesn’t want to. The concept that a child (or anyone) needs a tangible reward for doing every little thing that is expected is utterly ridiculous, and will be treated as such by most reasonable adults.

    No one rewards me for cooking dinner and doing laundry. I do, however, get food in my stomach and clean clothes to wear. If I don’t do it, I go hungry and my clothes smell. Kids who DO their work are rewarded with learning and good grades. It’s unfortunate that this young person is unable to recognize that. There are many kids who could care less about learning and good grades. That’s why teachers and parents create consequences for kids who shirk responsibility, and have since the beginning of time. Because kids are still learning what is important.

    Does that give educators an excuse for abusing children by overloading them with work during non-school hours? Of course not. Is slavery an apt comparison? Absolutely not. Is child labor law? Absolutely yes. Child labor law sets guidelines for how many hours a child can legally be worked. Funny how we don’t apply that to schoolwork. We should.


  6. Cheryl, I’m in your corner. I’m a huge Alfie Kohn fan and he’s always asserted that rewards are just the flip side of punishment, just as bad. I’ve lived by that and we’ve always gone for intrinsic rewards. I never stressed grades when my daughter was younger and I still cannot bring myself to this day, with college staring us in the face, to make grades the focal point of going to school. All the while knowing her GPA really counts now.

    I never would have been able to homeschool if I hadn’t cultivated a love and respect for learning in this household. Because there were no grades or homework that year. There were assignments. She took on line courses, there were deadlines. We just didn’t call it homework. And grades were not assigned. Just amazingly wonderful feedback, a full page for one essay. The emphasis was learning and growing, striving to do your best. That’s what school should be about, getting an education.

    I never rewarded for good grades, nor did I ever punish for bad ones. When my daughter’s grades would slip, I found myself hugging and consoling her. She already felt lousy, I saw no reason to punish, only to encourage and it worked. She’s a very smart diligent kid so when grades slipped, I was interested in what was going on in her life and her mind. It wasn’t about the grade.

    must have done something right. For what’s it’s worth, my daughter got into a selective program! I don’t reward, period. If I ask my daughter to do something around the house, she does it. I don’t pay her. Once she whined that all her friends were getting paid to do chores. I reminded her she lives in this house and we all contribute because we are members of this household. She would do more, she’d cook and do laundry but she can’t because she’s already up way too late. Soon I’ll pick her up and here we go again, the drawn face, the look of distress, the Houdini act to actually finish it all.

    I’ve seen what rewards have done to many of my daughter’s friends. I’m sorry to say they’ve grown up to be selfish, irresponsible and extremely focused on ME. It’s not their fault, it’s their parents and this materialistic aquisitive culture, one that posits that you can get a child to do anything you want as long as you reward. The worst thing about it is, if you ever have need to take your child to a therapist, that’s what they recommend! Reward, reward, reward. Who can blame these poor children? Easier to buy and I-pod than spend a day taking your child on a field trip.

    The child who wrote this letter has clearly been conditioned this way at home. I wouldn’t be surprised if his parents reward him for a good report card. He’s been trained to only do something if there’s something in it for him.

    What a shame. If only he’d dropped the slavery comparison and clamoring for rewards, he’d have a darn good point. As I wrote before, the child labor comparison is a chilling and completely apt analogy. It IS child labor. There’s no getting around that.


  7. Cheryl writes:

    Good heavens. I am a teacher who does NOT support homework for elementary students.

    No one rewards me for cooking dinner and doing laundry. I do, however, get food in my stomach and clean clothes to wear. If I don’t do it, I go hungry and my clothes smell.

    Does that give educators an excuse for abusing children by overloading them with work during non-school hours? Of course not. Is slavery an apt comparison? Absolutely not. Is child labor law? Absolutely yes. Child labor law sets guidelines for how many hours a child can legally be worked. Funny how we don’t apply that to schoolwork. We should.


    I like how you think, Cheryl. I know there are some awesome teachers out there. I’m so glad we finally heard from one. Tell your friends. Don’t be silent. We need to hear from the good ones, the ones who love their profession and the children who benefit from it.


  8. Personally, I as a student will say that homework causes 95% of the reason why I act up or am upset. Homework for me causes a large amount of stress upon myself and I am positive that it does other children. Not only do we disagree with homework we notice large decreases in our grades. We as students worry about school and our grades so much that we really do not need anything else to worry about. As a sophomore in High School I will tell you that my grades would be atleast one grade letter higher in all of my subjects no doubt if we didnt have homework. I also can see where this boy is seeing this. All adults need to keep there mouths shut about this because they have no clue how much stress goes through our bodies these days as students.


  9. Can I conclude that this 5th grade student also believes we should do away with stop signs, stop lights, all traffic lights, and really all laws in general? After all, we don’t get rewarded for following them, but we do receive a punishment for breaking them.

    I understand the “cuteness factor” of a newspaper printing such a letter and people gushing over it, but really…when did we decide 10 years old children know what is best?


  10. I’m a student who is attending a very difficult and stressful college at the moment (honestly, I’m in the middle of writing a short three page analytical essay comparing two out of three books I read in the past 2 weeks, researching for a 12 page paper, while also reading over 200 pages just for two classes tomorrow, I’m just taking a break) and saw an article about this on my comcast news page.

    If you read how much work I’m doing, just for tomorrow, you may be surprised, you may not, I really don’t care. This is my life, and I love it. It’s stressful as heck, yeah, but I’m working for something that I want, something that nobody else is forcing on me.

    This ignorant little kid who “hates” homework decides he’s going to get smart and write that “essay.” I went to public school until the end of 7th grade, and got straight A’s easily all the way. It was a joke. Starting in 8th grade, I attended a private Christian school, which challenged me much more than the public schools did.

    And it is true, this kid is simply ignorant. Just look at what he says: “Simply put, if we don’t, we get punished, and if we do, our reward is … nothing.” No reward? How the heck does he know? He’s a 5th grader, and he’s being supported by so many people who also agree that there is no reward. It is pathetic. It is our jobs as adults to teach these kids that there is a reward, it’s about helping yourself.

    Homework in elementary schools is largely busy work and extra practice, there are hardly any new concepts introduced. In middle school, the amount of work should increase, with more focus on practice when you begin things like pre-algebra as well as higher level English and grammar courses. In high school, the amount of homework should also increase, focusing on entirely new areas as well. The reward from all of this? To learn how to DO WORK.

    If I wasn’t challenged in high school, I would have failed out of here. Heck, my school boasts its number of class presidents and valedictorians who attend, and then even some of them do poorly. In high school, yeah, I was challenged, but I still hung out, sat around, played video games, and slept, a lot. Here, I get an average of 5 hours of sleep each night, and wouldn’t doubt if I have already put in more homework hours (almost a Junior) than all of my schooling before college combined. And guess what? I love being here. I have made awesome friends and enjoy my professors. Why? Because I know what I’m working for.

    Parents and teachers need to step up and tell their kids what they’re working for. In school, you aren’t working for the school, the teachers, your parents, the government. The only thing you are working for is yourself.

    For all those advocating against homework, when was the last time you took calculus? When was the last time you took an in depth history course? Have you tried calculus without homework? In school, the teacher has to teach. Students don’t have time to try it for themselves during school hours, so it must be done at home. This way it can be done at each individual’s pace.

    Take a step back and look at the big picture people, start doing things to help yourself in the long run and stop trying to help yourself in the now.

    And next time, before you build your arguments off of the arguments of 5th graders, do the research yourself, because he obviously didn’t.

    Why don’t you all go to Japan and try school there? Stop complaining if you’ve already got it easy.

    One last thing, “HomeworkIsUnconstitutional” is a whiner. Suck it up and do it. If homework didn’t serve a purpose, someone would have already removed it.


  11. Student — think how very burned out you would be if the homework load you have now had begun in first grade. Would you even have gone to college?

    I agree that homework in elementary school is mostly busywork, but I don’t agree that that’s OK. For a sensitive child, being made to do work that she can tell has no intrinsic purpose results in depression.

    Finally, you are now a young adult. A work load that may be appropriate for you now would not have been appropriate when you were a young child.


  12. Student writes:

    I went to public school until the end of 7th grade, and got straight A’s easily all the way. It was a joke. Starting in 8th grade, I attended a private Christian school, which challenged me much more than the public schools did.


    With all due respect, you answered your own question. For the record, I didn’t join this blog to clamor for no homework. I can tell you that the year we homeschooled, my standards were far higher than what the school was offering. What I’d like to see is a careful review of the school day, an analysis of what needs to be covered, and then find a way to get it all done without our high schoolers staggering into school on five hours sleep. You cannot argue with me that a sleep deprived high school student makes a good student. Last night is a case in point. My daughter had six hours sleep the previous night. As hard as I try, she moans to be allowed to stay up later and turns the light back on to continue homework when I’ve gone to bed. Last night, she was hardly efficient. It took eight hours to get the homework done because she was so tired. I believe if public schools eliminated the time wasters and fluff, they could get the curriculum covered in the time allotted to them and homework would be minimal in high school. All the research shows that anything beyond two hours in high school gives you nothing except diminishing returns.

    For the record, my daughter didn’t take pre-algebra in middle school, she took it in 6th grade. For the record, my child IS taking calculus, the BC version, and she’s a junior in high school. Please don’t assume that we parents are slackers here because we have serious concerns about homework. You’d be hard pressed to find parents more passionate about learning, education and the health and well being of their children than on this blog.

    As for the 5th grader who wrote this piece, don’t get too bent out of shape over it. He’s a kid. He wrote an essay. Many of us already weighed in that we didn’t agree with the slavery analogy but that the child labor one was right on target.


  13. Wow….you two entirely missed the point. Now I can see exactly why you believe what you do.

    To FedUpMom:

    Did I ever say elementary students should have a lot of homework? No. But they should have some. Otherwise, when they do actually start having homework, they’ll understand that they have to do it and will be capable of doing it. The purpose of homework in elementary school is fundamentally different than that of middle school, which is fundamentally different than that of high school. I tried to point that out, obviously it didn’t work.

    Like I said “It is our jobs as adults to teach these kids that there is a reward, it’s about helping yourself.” If your daughter gets distressed because she thinks her homework is stupid or pointless. Simply explain to her why she has it, to prepare her for later when homework becomes more necessary to the process of learning.

    You need to look at the purpose of homework, not at what it is specifically or how much of it there is. How much there is is simply a secondary point. If that homework’s purpose is achieved in much less homework, then I’d say there is a problem, but at most schools, that is simply not the case. Perhaps your school district is just very poorly run, but often times, that is the fault of the individual teachers, and it is a shame when that affects the kids negatively.

    To Anonymous:

    With all due respect, I didn’t pose a question, merely a response. For the record, my elementary school was K-4, middle school was 5-8, and high school was 9-12. Also for the record, the particulars of my schooling were not the point.

    My point also does not work when applied on a case-to-case basis. I simply wanted to point out why homework is necessary, from a student’s perspective. I felt that my perspective might shed some insight to parents or others posting on here simply because the school environment has changed. It has, for the most part, gotten much more competitive, with college becoming almost a necessity and grad school looking more and more the norm. Being a part of this environment, I felt it important to share that I look back on my previous schooling experiences, including homework, and see it as vital for my successes as a student today.

    I know many people, two of them my close friends, who achieved straight A’s throughout their schooling with very little effort and homework necessary. Upon coming to this college, they did not how to cope with the amount of work required, which is definitely more than the normal amount even for colleges, and they fall apart. My best friend last year dropped out of school because of the depression he suffered and has spent the past year at a rehab home attempting to get his life back on the track he wanted. He had become so depressed because of his low grades and the thought that his plan to becoming a missionary surgeon was unachievable. My other good friend is still here, is passing with a 2.something, will probably have to stay an extra year due to classes dropped, and might even flunk out soon because he has no drive to go to classes or do his assignments. The purpose of this long story? Your daughter will be thankful when later she feels comfortable doing the work assigned to her and happy at the successes she is having.

    To clarify what I meant earlier about a case-to-case basis. I’m sorry you feel your school has a lot of fluff in its teaching. That, however, has nothing to do with the purpose of assigning homework, and everything to do with that individual school. Like I said, homework is for letting the students practice, do things themselves, much like science labs allow.

    I am in no way supporting an abuse of the homework system, I am simply just arguing against a ban on homework by providing my own ideas about why homework, as an institution and idea, is good.

    One last thing, the only thing that I specifically addressed about the 5th grader’s essay had to do with his statement about gaining nothing from doing homework. Bringing slavery into the argument was just an extreme way to make a point. What upsets me is the fact that no one is speaking to the fundamental matter behind the issue and explaining to that 5th grader why homework is important. Heck, all 5th graders pretty much hate homework, I know I did. You just want to get it done as soon as possible so you can go do something you want to. This kid just decided to get smart and ask “why?” and what you are all addressing is “what homework?” or “how much?” Look at the real issue. Why.


  14. I didn’t miss the point at all, Student. Not at all. I just didn’t have time to respond to your entire post but I’m glad you wrote and shared your views. Given a difficult time and time constraints, I touched on a few points you made, namely the lecture that if my child is not inundated with homework, she won’t be able to handle the rigorous courses of pre-algebra and such in middle school. I was merely reminding you my daughter had already taken that rigorous course and that a more sensible homework policy does not equate with a less challenging and enriching curriculum.

    You’ve made other points as well and I will respond to them in more depth when I clear four deadlines off my desk. That will be the end of March. Please come back then. I will respond more fully to your thesis then. Do check in and I’ll have more to say.


  15. Okay, you can take your time to respond, I probably shouldn’t get any more involved in responding anyways, I’ve made my points and said what I wanted to say.

    I will, however, respond to one thing you just said in your last post:

    “I touched on a few points you made, namely the lecture that if my child is not inundated with homework, she won’t be able to handle the rigorous courses of pre-algebra and such in middle school.”

    I just need to defend myself on this matter since this is such a blatant misunderstanding of what I was trying to say.

    First, I don’t really appreciate you deeming my post a lecture simply because it was not what you wanted to hear.

    Second, I never stated the amount of homework I believed was appropriate. I simply said that homework should increase from elementary school to middle school, and from middle school to high school. That’s it.

    Third, I never said a student couldn’t handle pre-algebra without homework, nor did I refer to anything as “rigorous.” All I said about pre-algebra is that it takes practice to get better. There are many different possible problems, it is not simply straight addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, where if you do the same thing every time you get the same answers. This is different, thus it requires practice to fully grasp certain concepts. If you understand it without doing homework, then the homework should be simple for you and not take very long at all.

    To further clarify my point about calculus, what I meant was that these concepts are much harder than those of any math class to come before it. Only very few people can listen to a teacher teach calculus, and be able to do it when it comes to a test, without practicing for themselves. And calculus, being a difficult math, requires more time in class to explain, therefore there is no time during school to practice, thus homework must be assigned.

    I appreciate your responses, but I do not, however, appreciate when add to what I say when I chose my words carefully.


  16. Student — I just don’t agree with your philosophy here. I don’t want to tell my daughter that she has to do pointless homework now because later on she might have some useful homework. I would rather wait until the useful homework comes down the pike, and have her do that.

    I don’t believe that the only way to prepare for homework later is to do homework every day now. There are all kinds of things that people learn to do as they get older without practicing them every day first. Driving a car is an often-cited example, but there are many others. Homework serves no purpose in elementary school. It just turns kids off to school and learning. It burns kids out. You say yourself that you hated homework in 5th grade and just wanted to get it over with. Do you really believe your education would have suffered if you hadn’t had any homework that year? I don’t.

    As I’ve remarked elsewhere, I’m not against kids working hard. But the work must be worth doing and it must be appropriate to the child.


  17. Student writes: I just need to defend myself on this matter since this is such a blatant misunderstanding of what I was trying to say. First, I don’t really appreciate you deeming my post a lecture simply because it was not what you wanted to hear.


    Okay, fair enough. I’ll try to be more respectful of your opinions even though I don’t agree with them. And I’m glad you chose your words carefully. But you must admit you were pretty snarky in your own introductory entry.

    My position, particularly on elementary school homework is formed by my own anecdotal evidence and is backed by Harris Cooper of Duke University, the nation’s homework guru. Namely that homework in elementary school is pointless, that children would develop and grow far more if they were allowed to read and write all afternoon,play, explore nature and that elementary homework has no measurable influence on test scores.

    As Maria Montessori always said, play is a child’s work. Child’s play is not frivolous. If homework takes a child all night, he has no time left to build that train in the basement or take apart an appliance to see how it works. If I have to bust up a lively history discussion at the dinner table, are we not all losing far more than we are gaining? I once overheard my daughter tell someone that all the history she’s ever learned, she learned from her dad.

    My child is the one who was always constructing something out of leggos and now she wants to be an engineer. And yes, you want to reinforce and practice the math, for example, that you learned in school that day. I’ve already cited countless creative ways a parent can accomplish this, short of having the child sweat through worksheets and have tantrums. You can bake together, thus demonstrating measurements, you read together, you go to puppet shows and plays, you take a trip into town to catch the new exhibit at the science museum, you go to the nature center to study bugs, you leave a piano book lying around so your child becomes intrigued and starts playing. You leave books everywhere so your child trips over them and reads them. We always did this. You do not have to be rich, we are far from it, you just need a passion for learning.

    Is the goal of elementary school education to ignite curiosity and teach material and skills or teach children how to follow directions and meet deadlines? Obviously the latter has merit but not at the complete expense of the former.

    Yes, Student, you didn’t say all this but you do support elementary school homework, even though, by your own admission you hated fifth grade homework. “Heck, all 5th graders pretty much hate homework, I know I did. You just want to get it done as soon as possible so you can go do something you want to.” That comment doesn’t exactly instill confidence.

    Somehow you feel homework, and yes, even that elementary stuff you hated, has made you into the accomplished student you now are but I submit to you that elementary school homework is not necessary to achieve that goal. When the time comes, students can rise to the occasion. It is not imperative to pile on more and more homework in the younger years in order to prepare for the older years. I have seen unschooled homeschoolers enter high school and do remarkably well. They can plunge into homework because it doesn’t carry the baggage from childhood that you see in kids who grew to hate it.

    Indeed, homework in elementary often has the opposite effect, turning kids off to learning and causing them to hate school. Believe me, I have seen this many times. Bright motivated little children with an insatiable curiosity who want nothing to do with learning by the time they’re ten and will only do it if mom promises a reward.

    I took an extremely smart 10th grader with us to a museum last year, the rare Saturday afternoon we could actually steal away. She didn’t want to enter at first, whining that learning was school and today was Saturday. This girl didn’t start out this way. Well meaning but clueless adults brought her to this place of dread.

    It is often implied that children who have no afternoon homework will while away their hours on tv and not accomplish a single responsible or educational activity. For many many children and families, this is simply not the case.

    Student, do come back in the early part of April. I’ll reread your posts, respond line by line so no fears of misconstruing your remarks, and see what I’ve left out.


  18. See, I think that we are almost arguing for the same thing, the means to the end are just a little different. I do want to point out again, though, that I never stated the amount of homework I believed necessary.

    The homework in elementary school to prepare them for more homework later could be as simple as 20-30 minutes a day, if homework was assigned that day at all. Also, I did a lot of long-term homework assignments in elementary school, and see those as important. Kids see themselves as accomplishing something, and given a long period of time to do it, it doesn’t seem too stressful (as long as parents and teachers help them do a little bit along the way).

    I definitely agree kids should be spending the majority of their time exploring the things they enjoy and that this will not always be mindless. So we agree on that.

    I guess I came off sounding too negative because I was combating the idea that homework should be banned, as the fifth grader wants. If this was actually a “case against excessive homework” I would be completely supportive.

    You just have to keep in mind that even though I argue for homework, I am not arguing to assign loads upon loads of it. When I said I hated homework in 5th grade, yeah, I didn’t like doing it, but it was still only maybe 30 minutes a night if I had any at all. Kids get over the fact that they have to do homework once they’re done, its when homework becomes too much that they just simply cannot get done that is the problem.

    I enjoyed this discussion and am glad to see now that even though it appeared you were missing my point, we were both actually speaking for the same purpose.


  19. I hate homework and this fifth grader makes sense to me.I’m in sixth grade and already on autopilot. I like school. I do pretty well and I only have one jerky teacher. I have lots of friends and do learn, but with hw, I’m losing sleep, I’m jaded and snappish, but when I see people like you adults fighting and pulling for us, I thank you. Teachers don’t listen because they assume we’re lazy and don’t want to learn.No one listens because they feel we are whining and say that they had to go through it too. Thank you for giving us a voice because as student said, the essay was just “cute”. We have no respect in the world of homework, an when someone finally makes sense, no one listens. Keep fighting, a new day will come.Thank you.


  20. ARGH! I am 14, and I’m currently, er supposed to be doing my Social Studies homework. And its due in 5 days. Ummmm…

    But guess what topic we’re doing for Social Studies? HUMAN RIGHTS. So of course I’m doing homework as my topic. Lol.

    And I completely support anyone who wants to do something against homework. As homework is very annoying.

    In NZ, at high school, the year 9s are meant to do 30 mins of homework. This is impossible, due to the workload we get after 5 lessons that day. And then in year 10 (my year), we are supposed to do 45 mins. But that still isn’t long enough. If the UN were to decree homework pathetic and unlawful, then New Zealand would follow, as well as all the other countries that are a part of the UN.

    Am I the only NZer to come to this site???

    Sorry if this was all gibberish :/ but I don’t feel like doing my homework today. ESPECIALLY HOMEWORK IN THE WEEKENDS.

    By the way, people at my school have to go back saturday and sunday this week, to prepare for the school fair. ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  21. the word homework is said too much in this… its giving me a headache and making me feel sick… that is why homework should be abolished…


  22. Hey guys. Nice comments. My teacher is making me do 20 pages of homework about how much she thinks that we should get rid of homework. Talk about ironic


  23. Very interesting debate. I was sure when I found this article that I agreed with it 100%. But my peer – “Student” – has brought up a few good points.

    My initial response was “Hooray! Down with homework!” I’ve been writing a paper about this for my philosophy class for the past few days and I’m glad I got a very strong con argument against the homework ban.

    I’ve always felt that busy work “fluff” was tedious, pointless, or at least overkill. Sure Student, if the concept is easily understood, the homework shouldn’t be too difficult to complete. But when my calculus teacher assigned over 50 problems a night, my understanding the concept only reduced my time from 3 hours to 2.

    Now, with last period sports ending at 4 (or as late as 7 if you’re in season), add dinner that may or may not be accompanied by a waiting family, those 2 or 3 hours of calculus, read a chapter of English and write a short report, outline a history chapter, read a chapter from AP Biology, study a bit for a Spanish quiz at the end of the week, make sure you have your supplies for your club event meeting, and before you know it, your alarm is going off and breakfast is on the table.

    That was a typical day in my high school (one of the top 100 public schools, btw). So they had some pretty high standards. And I HATED the workload. I suppose I could have not been a club official, not been in student govenment, not played in multiple sports, or not all 4 years. I could have just not had a social life at all and just not gone to a 4 year university. But even with all of that, and my subpar study-ethic, I still managed a 3.5 GPA.

    I went from high school to a 4-yr UC, hated what I was learning, transferred back to community college to re-boost my GPA to a 4.0, and transferred out again to a private university. My study ethic never changed. It probably got worse from CC, to be honest.

    Now in my last couple years of college (my 3rd college, transferred), my work ethic is even worse. Having to drudge through GE’s the same way I drudged through high school’s uninteresting subject matter, I STILL find lectures unbearable, reading expectations impossible, and the past irrelevant.

    My conclusion: Work will always suck if you don’t care about it, regardless of whether you’re 14 or 40. You have to do something you love, and it takes time to figure that out.

    Sure, “perfect practice makes perfect”. But do kids need to practice practicing? If I had spent more time making movies with my friends when I was 15, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me 5 years, 2 majors and 3 colleges to figure out I was destined to be a filmmaker and not an engineer or a biologist.


  24. To Other Student:

    Great post… I don’t know if you intended it but your experience with schooling is exactly what a lot us parents, who are against homework, are trying to spare our children from. I don’t see a lot of benefit gained from burning you out in High School.

    But I have to chuckle to myself..when I was 19, I thought the kids who were taking a year off to “find themselves”, were wasting their time…that to succeed in life one had to keep that nose to the university grindstone. At almost 50, I know who the smart ones were…and it wasn’t me! After 3 years of misery in a professional school I hated, I switched to an Honours BA and “found myself” and the profession that was far more interesting. I think very few students know what they like and who they want to be by the time they’ve finished high school because they haven’t had time to think about it and any love of learning has been killed long before that.


  25. OtherStudent —

    “But do kids need to practice practicing?”

    Brilliant. This is exactly the problem. So much homework is just fake. Even the teachers will say things like, “we want them to get in the habit of working every day!”, as if the work itself is irrelevant.


  26. I am an 8th grader, and like every other kid, I dislike homework. I get stressed about all the assignments we get, and how long it takes to do each. Our teachers are like “This Assignment will only take you 20 minutes” but if you add that up to the other subjects you have during the day, that can be well over an hour.

    I do get the fact that homework has been apart of the school system for a VERY long time, and if it was a problem, then it would have been removed. My understanding, is that homework is part of the education system, and part of people’s personal goals to graduate, and basically set up their life.

    Sometimes if I have a problem on a question, my parents are surprised on the content that we’re learning, as they learned it in high school or college. It scares me a little bit if I have a question when i’m in high school on something, I might not be able to rely on my parents.


  27. By the way, I failed that Social Studies assignment. Allegedly I can do ‘much better’ and Homework is ‘not a relevent human rights issue.’ Also I handed it in a tad late… oops.


  28. Oh well. I have a day off today but will be on the computer ALL DAY not doing my homework. Coz I don’t have any 🙂 perhaps the teachers are going all nice all of a sudden!?!?!?! Oh wait, no they’re not. Exams start next week. And guess when they decided to inform us of this fact? ON MONDAY.


  29. I think I’m allergic to exams, school and homework; I’m coming down with all sorts of illnesses at the moment.


  30. Okay, this is relating back to like the first comment on this page, but I just wanted to add my 2 cents about CTY as a warning: great program, except for one year when I did, what did they call it, “fast-paced biology” and frankly the teacher didn’t know what she was doing. Her idea of fast paced was lots and lots of low level material very very quickly. “Are you finished yet?” she’d wail, five minutes after handing out a thick packet on Mendelian genetics. “No,” the class would bellow back in unison, scribbling away. “Come on, you guys are supposed to be GT kids.” (That, by the way, was a direct, verbatim quote). Best thing about that program was getting to watch outbreak, andromeda strain, and three episodes of the tv show “House” in class for a change of pace. HOWEVER, from what I’ve heard many of the programs are great, the community is wonderful, and the creative writing program I did at stanford was awesome. I’d just steer clear of that particular program.


  31. I think homework is a waste of my time. My work is always good at school so why should i take it home with me and basically go over the same thing that i already know and that my teachers already know I know. I spend awhile doing my homework, going over it and making sure it’s correct. It’s a real nuisance. I always participate so my teachers know i know the work. i get a lot of homework and I am in a public school and not a good one, I try my hardest to keep my grades up but its difficult when, the night before i was up all night trying to complete homework


  32. I, for one, agree with Benjamin. Kids today are assigned grueling and stressful assignments, like reading 100 pages in a science textbook in a single night. Kids in the 1970s, however, might have been assigned three pages in a textbook. I am in 7th grade and I get assigned to TAKE NOTES from a textbook and after that I am commonly given quizzes on the same material THE NEXT DAY. X(


  33. I agree with this.
    Kids need there sleep and yes they do spend 7 hours in a class room or rooms. I’m in highschool and i get way to much homework.


  34. Homework and slavery are nothing a like..
    they should not be compared..
    also i think to much homework is a big block on young childrens shoulders..although does give kids responsibiltiy.
    but to much is to much.


  35. I am a student and homework causes me a lot of stress and is mostly why I act out. Middle and High Schoolers have a lot of stress already and adding a bunch of homework makes the situation much worse. I’m not saying that 5 minutes of homework killed anybody but when students receive hours of homework it affects their grades, their relationships, and most of all their sleep. If I stay up late doing homework I find it more difficult to learn at school. On my school website it informs parents that my grade is to receive 60 minutes of homework or less and I have been receiving at least an Hour and a Half each night. Some nights i can’t go anywhere or do anything because of homework. Sometimes I’m even afraid to go to dinner for wasting homework time. All the parents who disagree with this article simply do not know how difficult it is these days. With the pressures of fitting in, doing well in school, feeling accepted, its just way too much!


  36. To ‘student’,

    I don’t see the point of doing 50 problems on quadratic equations if I’m going to become a dancer. I rather spend that few hours dancing.

    You said homework is for the child to learn how to do WORK, and I say ‘meaningless work’. Meaningless work that doesn’t matter to the child at all. Meaningless work where the child spends time learning things that he/she will not use or will be of little use of in the future. Meaningless work where the child could put the time to better use, such as enjoying childhood and learning through playing.

    And that hours of hardwork thing in college. If someone enjoys what they’re learning, work naturally becomes NOT work. 5 hours working on a research paper is not work anymore, it’s fun. That’s why most homework is considered work. Who actually enjoys quadratic equations after they spend 3 hours forcing it into their brain? There initial love of learning it will be crushed after it being forced down their throats.

    My mind is really muddled up right now. I shall go sleep.


  37. I am in middle school I love to learn but I hate school.There is nothing more i would rather do than to learn new things that I find interesting to me.But guess what I cant let me tell you why.When i go to school they force what they think i should know down mi throte in every class then when i finally get research what i would like to know myself.thing that im interested in and things that might help me later on in life.but icant do that becous i am piled up with homework.wich is all about the same meeningless crap that they force down mi throte in school i think it is a teachers job to teach the class not the students job.so realy me doing homework is hindering mi learning than helping it sorry for the bad spelling im in a hurry TO DO HOMEWORK I suggest if you are a student goimh to school survival.com to find out whats realy going on here.


  38. Wow. This is a smart boy! I have to agree though. Homework is slavery. It isn’t good for kids health to have hours of homework. When kids have sports and/or after school activities that get out late, then kids could be up until around 11 pm. Some schools have school starting at 7:40 like mine and they have to wake up at six. Many kids and teens like me have sleeping problems so they go to sleep around 1 or 2 am when you have homework until 11, so they only get 6 hours of sleep sometimes. It’s all homework’s fault! Stupid homework


  39. I’m a freshman in high school, and i agree that homework should at least be restricted to a lot less, if not stopped. Although, it does make me a little angry how this paper is written by a fifth grader, and fourth graders are commenting on this. like, I’m not a genius, but i believe i am decently smart, and in fourth and fifth grade i did maybe 30 minutes of homework a night. now, as a freshman in high school, i am doing about 3 and a half hours of homework a night, along with not even getting home from school until about 630 because of sports. I think that these kids in middle school and elementary school have no right to complain, as their workload is practically nothing, plus at most of the schools i’ve gone to, (my family moved quite a bit), kids cant even do sports until sixth grade, and they take the bus home or get picked up by their mom. this means they get out of school at about 2:30 – 3:30 im guessing, and with about a half an hour to maybe an hour of homework each night, cmon! this gives them 3 hours to play outside and relax and eat dinner and all their stuff, and still get to bed by 7:30, not making them tired at all, and that is with a late ending school, which means they start earlier, and an unlikely maximum workload.


  40. These comments are all very good, but I noticed that no one has brought up the following point (BTW, I’m a 9th grade girl who’s 14 and has ADHD but is also in the Gifted program at a public school):
    After working at school for six or seven hours, shouldn’t kids be allowed to develop in ways other than academically?
    I mean seriously, do all the parents here honestly think that academic development is the most important or only important type of development for kids? Isn’t six hours of academic work a day enough? Also, even for academic development, homework is useless, because if a kid already “gets” a concept, then working on it some more is pointless and dehibilitating; if a kid just “doesn’t get it” then practicing will only cause the kid to keep doing it wrong over and over again. And perhaps most importantly, if a kid isn’t interested in something, they won’t learn it, no matter how hard you try. And that is what is fundamentally wrong with public schools right now, is that our government is trying to forced kids to learn things that they aren’t interested in and that frankly, are useless because the facts are out of context. My favorite author on anything to do with education and human behavior is Alfie Kohn, who wrote an excellent book on homework called “the Homework Myth,” and more recently (and more on education in general), he wrote a book called, “Feel Bad Education.” Please reply to this post; I am interested to see what your reactions are.


  41. I think that homework sould be banned. Some children have difficultys like dislexia like me and when my teacher gives me homework she says that we have to do it all on our own so that’s ok for some children that just wizz through but when you get stuck it can get realy frustrating


  42. Why do children have to do homework anyway. After a frustrating day at school they then have to do more work from school my friend hates home work because in Grade 5 like we are in we get lods of homewok every day and it takes up all her time beffor bed so she sometimes does not finish it.




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