JENKINS: Excessive homework is holding our family hostage

Hey. Teachers. You know I always have your backs. Now I need some reciprocity, a little quid pro quo: Can you please, please, PLEASE cut back on the homework? It's turning my family's evenings into a living hell.

Yes, yes, I understand the importance of homework. I've been an educator for 26 years. I just believe there are reasonable expectations and unreasonable expectations -- and as much as I hate to say it, some of you are being entirely unreasonable.

Consider my 11th-grader, who has six academic subjects, including three AP courses. Most of his teachers assign anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour of homework each night -- with the AP classes, of course, tending to require more.

That means, after spending seven hours at school, he could (and sometimes does) bring home as much as six hours of homework. I don't know about you, but I don't usually spend 13 hours a day working. That's an unreasonable expectation for a 16-year-old who also plays sports, serves on student council, has church activities, and occasionally likes to sleep.

Well, you say, AP classes are supposed to be college equivalents. They should require more time and effort. Let's examine that statement.

As a college professor for more than a quarter century, I can tell you that we generally follow the 1:2 rule when assigning outside work: for every hour in class, students should spend about two hours outside of class. A typical college class meets for three hours a week; if students also have six hours of homework, then they're working on that class nine hours a week for 16 weeks, or 144 hours total.

To get credit for that "same" course via AP, high school students must put in about 180 hours -- an hour a day for 180 days. That means, if we're talking true equivalency, they should be able to get by with zero homework and still have 36 hours to spare.

And don't even get me started on summer work. Grading students on work they were supposed to do WHILE SCHOOL WASN'T EVEN IN SESSION is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. If we tried to do that in college, we'd get our butts sued off.

Hey, there's an idea. ...

And by the way, this doesn't just happen in high school. My eighth-grader is inundated on a nightly basis as well. Come on. For a 13-year-old who also (believe it or not) happens to have a life outside of school, 15 minutes of homework per class per night is plenty.

I understand that some of this is driven by all the high-stakes testing. But I suspect that most teachers, if they wanted to, could find ways to utilize class time more efficiently, negating the need for so much homework.

That's all I'm asking: Just try. Please. My family's evenings are depending on you.

Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. Email him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.


Anonymous1 2 years, 7 months ago

Well said and I agree with ALL of your points. It should be plastered on the front page of every newspaper and sent to the Gwinnett County School Board. After raising 3 gifted children I finally learned to recognize educational burnout and unnecessary pressure. When they get home, let them play and use their imagination, let them sleep so their bodies can grow, let them relax and talk around the dinner table and be with their family when they get home. An hour and a half of homework is almost too much after spending 7 hours of day at school. And please stop shoving those Accelerated Reader Points...one should read for information and pleasure and not point accumulation. And please tell those coaches that when it is 90 degrees or lightening outside to please find alternate practice venues. Sports or a big game is NEVER more important than the life of a child.


Anonymous1 2 years, 7 months ago

and please don't feed me the line that "it's a competive world", you can't compete when you are burned out.


Jose 2 years, 7 months ago

Jose says: He likes this article and thinks this person is smart. When Joses kids come home they also have to work, in garden and in dry wall business...


RidleyMom 2 years, 7 months ago

As a teacher and mom, I just caution parents to make sure their children are actually taking advantage of all the opportunities they are given to do work at school. Sometimes the social agenda trumps the school assignment when given a little bit of freedom.

As teachers, we often give students time to work independently so that we can provide individual attention to students that need a little more one-on-one help at that moment. Some students work diligently and others choose not to.


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