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.

15 thoughts on “An Eighth Grader Speaks Out

  1. Oh you poor thing, not getting to have fun. What about the millions of kids around the world who have to work from a very young age for little or no wage who would love to go to school and learn whererby they could get a good job or get into college and have the great life that you have. Signed a mom that makes her kids work and build a work ethic.

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  2. Wow! The attack posts almost always come from anonymous sources. I’d just like you to know that not all moms feel this way.

    Believe me, I worked, from the age of 13. My first paid job, at that age, was a “page”, at our local library. I also babysat, did my own laundry, and paid for my own clothes, from 7th grade on. I was an excellent student, who went on to get a college degree, funded with my own money, earned from my high school and college jobs. Although I’m delighted to have the opportunity of living in the US, I have tried to help others as well. I began to sponsor a child (which I continue to do), in a 3rd world country, while I was in college…again, with the money from my after school jobs. I commuted to school and worked ALOT of hours!

    Although I worked hard, I had plenty of time, for play. Yep…I said “play”. At your age, when I wasn’t working, I still had time for piano lessons, and alot of fun times, with the kids in the neighborhood. Homework was short, with the exception of occasional reports. We had study periods, built into the day at school, so there was an opportunity to complete homework, before you even went home! I went to bed at 9:00 every night. The first homework I ever stayed up late for, was in college.

    I hope to instill a work ethic, like I’ve always had, in my children, too. With the amount of time they’re spending on homework, in 3rd and 5th grade, I don’t see how they’ll ever have the time that I had, to pursue these endeavors. I’m not sure where “anonymous mom’s” kids go to school, but if they can fit in the work load of children in 3rd world countries, and US homework simultaneously, I tip my hat to them. Wonder what her children would say, about their lives? No matter…I’m sorry for the stress that school/homework is causing you and your family. I hope that students, parents, teachers and administrators continue to have the courage to speak up, and change policies that don’t work, for the majority of people. If I’m lucky, I’ll see some change, before my kids are your age.
    Good luck, and I hope that you’ll be able to achieve a balance, in your life.

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  3. Okay, anonymous. Chill your biscuits. I’m not complaining that I get an education. I appreciate that. I’m trying to point out how half of the homework we get is pointless and time consuming. Many kids could be doing much more productive things like learning an instrument or doing art, or doing whatever extra activity they want. Instead, I get up at 6 and spend all day at school, and all night until 10 doing homework often, and I think that I could be doing something a little more important with my life. So calm down. Now I gotta go do some homework. Now go work your kids or something.

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  4. Atta girl Kira….
    If you and your parents went into school with that perspective, could you not make some changes in how your life went. I totally sympathize with your problems ..you have no control over anything. But if you had a meeting with the principal with your parents support (and presence) could you not try to make your case for a limit on homework?

    What about if you took a copy of the letter that the teacher posting today wrote to the parents of his students, making homeowrk optional….that’s from a teacher who has done research on the effects of homework…

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  5. I’m sorry, darlin. The public school system sucks. It’s broken and (though obviously better than receiving no education at all as in 3rd world countries) needs improvements.

    Why the push for our kids to learn everything in every book? Really. I’m serious. When I think of all of the struggles I went through in middle and high school to learn information for tests so that the school could get proper funding… it’s disgusting. There is SO MUCH to learn about in the world! Why not let the kids pick their curriculum a bit more? Independent studies, group projects, etc. Simply doing workbooks and worksheets day in an day out, until 10 or later every night… well. It sucks the joy of learning right out of a kid.

    I want to teach my kids to learn how to learn. To learn how to LOVE learning. To be able to understand the connections between learning mathematics and living your life. The best thing that ever happened to my family was to start homeschooling them because guess what? THIS teacher doesn’t assign homework. If you get your work done by noon? You can be done and free to read or build Legos or draw or play with your siblings or… just daydream.

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  6. Sweetie, I know how you feel. I’m in 9th grade, at a private school where I, stupidly, signed up for both honors classes, Bio and Algebra. Algebra, my teacher gives us so much homework, I usually just copy the answers from the back of the book if I get the concept. I’m not that kind of person, and cheaters make me sick, but I can’t handle the homework. English, my teacher had just forced us to memorize and *sing* (yes, SING) the first 16 lines of the Odyssey. And Biology is the worst. Apparently, once per quarter, we have to write a page-long “Article Review” of a newspaper article, a well written, grammatically correct essay that tells the main idea of the article, the significance, the impact on society, and my opinion. I’m ALSO still finishing up a 2-3 page essay on the differences between convergent and divergent evolution that was due last week when I was sick. My family and I also fight a lot because of homework… in fact today my dad took away my iPod Touch (which I need for dance class on Wednesday) because my homework isn’t done yet.
    Speaking of dance, it’s gotten really hard for me, because, like you, my backpack had hurt my back to the point where I can’t sit up straight. Plus I have to carry my laptop up and down 2 flights of steps all day.
    My school’s nurse has this part of her office where she keeps tea packets, cappuccino (powdered), lemonade (powdered), and a hot/cold water dispenser. She also keeps hot chocolate behind her desk. My bff and I usually hang out with her during lunch. I never used to drink coffee, but now I rely on that cappuccino to get me through the day.
    I’m usually up until 1-ish every night doing homework, then I get up around 6 (sometimes I set my alarm earlier to finish up homework, but I rarely actually wake up until after 6)
    My older friends keep insisting that they wish they were freshmen again because we have so little homework. I fear what we’ll be getting next year!

    Good luck,
    Bio1Horrors

    PS. I’ve been told hot showers help with back pain, and for the sleep, caffeine helps, try iced tea or caffeinated soda…

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  7. What? The school nurse is giving out caffeine to the kids, so they can function with only 5 hours of sleep a night? That’s an outrage. Unbelievable.

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  8. bio1horrors,
    that sucks. a lot. I’m going crazy, and it’s only the beginning of the year. I’m in like double enriched math thing, so I take geometry already and the teachers preeetty crazy (: and I take a class at the high school already. It’s getting annoying. I am NOT looking forward to next year, or even the middle of this year with all the finals and everything. The whole system sucks. It’s ridiculous. I even have to stay up doing this stupid homework on my WEEKEND. I swear I’m moving to mars (:

    Well, gotta go do my science, math, english, etc homework blah.
    Good luck with your year!

    And thanks tracey and psychmom.

    Tracey – Sometimes I wish I was homeschooled, but at other times I don’t. Not going to school has some kids lacking socially a lot, and then when they get out in the “real world” (which also tends to suck) they have a lot of problems socially. But I also know a lot of homeschoolers who are perfectly fine socially, so I guess it depends on how much they see kids out of school (:
    your kids sound lucky 😀

    bye!

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  9. Sweetheart, how much do I agree with you!

    My friend’s daughter is a real sweetie, and loves to talk with me whenever she visits. She is polite and intelligent, and got straight As in her Midterm. One day, she said the thing she hated about middle school was the fact she got barely any time to socialize. “We pass each other in the halls, rushing to each class because we have only 3 minutes to get there. We have no recess, and if some stupid kid is yelling too loud, instead of taking him away, the principal makes us have a silent lunch, therefore squashing the only sliver of time in our 7 hour day that we get to talk to each other.”

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  10. I’m 10 in 5th grade and im always stressed with my home work! I just want to give up! I always have to help by little brother with his and my friends with theirs! I GET SO STRESSED! I really want to tell some one what i feel but im really shy and embaressed! Please any one help!

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  11. This is outrageous I do my homework till 2:00 Am in the morning just to study for exams and homework everyday I only get atleast 3 hours of sleep I wish I could just die instead of studying all of this

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  12. To be more specific 9 details of history of us supported with 9 more details to support it, science questions, binder organization, LA project, 3 workbook pages of Spanish, 69 math problems, and all ofthis was in just one day. man I just hate my life I want to kill all the teachers

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  13. I also empathize with you!! There are only so many hours in an evening to get home, eat, sleep, and do homework. The teachers and school boards need to realize this and time manage their assignments. Too much homework only forces the students to rush through everything and go through life exhausted!!!! Students need time for sports which provides much needed exercise. They need SLEEP!!!! The workload given to students reminds me of the hours required by residents. Ten years ago residents hours were by law reduced to 80 hours. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation results in poorer performance. My suggestion is that only half of the classes give homework per night. For examply: history, math, Spanish one night; English, science, speech the next. This would give the students time the studying in depth rather than rush through the information. I empathize with all of you poor kids including mine! We including your teachers and theschool board members did not have this work load in middle school or high school!!!!!!!

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