Teacher, student daughter debate the merits of homework

Many teachers will tell you about how homework will improve academic performance and enhance students’ responsibility and time management skills, but even in the same household, there are differences in best practice for assigning it.

“A lot of students have sports or other activities after school, or they might have to watch a sibling, so a parent or guardian can do something,” freshman Megan Engdahl said. 

Teachers see the same issues. “The problem I see is usually with coaches and bosses who put the athlete and worker role ahead of the student role for the young people they are around,” Megan’s dad, history teacher Kyle Engdahl said.

Megan also said that homework has led to anxiety for her in previous years. “If homework takes too much time, it can get stressful super fast,” she said. 

Speaking about whether homework helps or hurts her grades, Megan said, “In math we at least have review days, so at least for me it’s easy to stay on top of things.” 

Kyle, however, said, “Homework as practice could be used just as often as I use it to assess a student’s knowledge or skills.”

Regarding how much homework is right, Megan said, “Fifteen-20 minutes is the perfect amount of homework.” She said students who are involved in activities after school could have trouble completing homework if there’s more than that amount. 

However, Kyle assigns up to an hour of homework each week. To set a standard for the amount of homework in each grade, it’s widely accepted that the 10 minute rule is the best way to determine the amount of time a student is completing homework for. The 10 minute rule says that 1st grade students should do 10 minutes of homework a night, 2nd grade students should do 20 minutes, 3rd grade students should do 30 minutes, and so on. 

Megan said, “I don’t think it works, and isn’t that helpful to students. When I was in 3rd to 5th grade, I would spend hours on something that was only supposed to take 10-20 minutes because of my anxiety. I have a better handle on it now, but if you were to tell me that I have 90 minutes of homework just because I’m in 9th grade, I would end up super overwhelmed,” said Megan. 

Kyle agreed and said, “If that rule kept going it would be wildly unsustainable.” He added, “We should want our students doing things with people for fun and if we all give 30 minutes of homework a day, students will have hours of homework every night and I personally don’t find that to be wise or helpful to learning.”

Kyle, however, said that homework can be beneficial to students. He said that many teachers use it as a way to catch students up who have been gone or to make the best use of the class time they have. “The ‘must know’ materials, topics and skills are normally covered in class, but there are lots of topics and such that are also relevant that we don’t always have class time for,” Kyle said.

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