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New Report: Kids Say School is Too Easy

But don’t worry, kids, this report will ensure you get much more homework

By Jeremy Greenberg Jul 10, 2012 3:26PM

Well, American kids definitely lead the world in one area: admitting to things sure to cut into their video game time. A study from the Center for American Progress reveals that from as early as 4th grade, kids are admitting that school fails to challenge them. The study also surveyed many junior high students who find history to be humdrum, and high school students who lament that they don’t do enough writing. Maybe that’s why teens love to text, it satisfies an unmet need to work on their reading comprehension. 

This study is interesting when measured against the highly competitive prep and high schools. There are pockets within the education system that do a great job challenging kids. In fact, some are so competitive, they draw criticism that they’re too taxing. But those schools are the exception, not the rule.

So how should bored kids get the challenge they need from school? I say that they should assign more homework. This would teach self-discipline—arguably the single most valuable life skill. Our children are coming up in a world oversaturated with distractions. Facebook notifications, text messages, and emails all conspire to block kids from becoming their best.  If a large amount of homework is assigned, it will force kids to focus on their schoolwork amidst a house full of distractions. Yep, more homework is the answer—just don’t make it so hard that the parent has to help.    

Do you think schools should assign more homework?


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Jul 11, 2012 6:08AM
I just came out of a very competitive and certainly challenging charter school. I can tell you that homework is not the answer. The answer is having teachers passionate about what they do and a government who lays off the standards. The more we standardize our education, the less engaging it is, and the more teachers are stuck worrying more about how to incorporate anything than how to challenge their students. 
Jul 11, 2012 5:33AM
Homework must be the answer because Jeremy Greenberg told me so.
Jul 11, 2012 4:07AM
I don't think homework is the answer. Homework is usually busy work and I remember handing in absolute garbage that my teachers would then slap an A on. I learned quickly that it didn't take much to not just get through, but also get a good grade in high school. Most of my teachers' idea of teaching was to have us open up our books and have us take notes on the material; they were essentially babysitters who only got up and taught when it was to teach us good test taking skills so we could pass the state mandated standardized tests. I went to school in Florida and our entire curriculum, starting in the 3rd grade was geared toward teaching us to pass the FCAT, which was a joke. I passed high school with grades that don't reflect what I learned because just about everything I'm learning now in college (luckily with my grades I was able to get into a good one) I'm learning for the first time, things like American history, WWI, WWII, and studying literary classics that we had "no time" to read during high school. I did have a few teachers that knew the system was bogus and tried to actually inspire/teach us and for them I made sure to do my best (never once did I sleep... well maybe once) and I will always be grateful to those few.
Jul 11, 2012 3:59AM
Most homework is simple busywork.  Assign Projects.  Make them show they have actual mastery of both the subject and the skills to apply it, make them challenge their peers, then they will work and succeed.
Jul 11, 2012 3:13AM
Homework is not the answer in itself. The rigor of the homework and the content of the assignment determine whether or not homework is of value. Students are bored because their system of communication is composed of digitally electronic devices.  We use paper and pencil and computers to teach whereby their electronics after school are beyond the scope of their daily school routine. In other words, they are more challenged outside of school than within; they therefore are bored and lack motivation to learn.  If we would design the use of  I-pods, cell phones, I-phones, Androids and all of the other digitally electronic devices at our exposure to instruct students in today's world, we would certainly be of service to our youths.  We learned to read books because they were the media of the day. Notice the closing of newspapers and publishers today, especially those that are not using electronic media. We need to place emphasis on both electronic and traditional media to keep our youth up-to-date as well as to know how to access traditional methods of communication.  I may not have explored this idea sufficiently; however, I hope the idea of our missing the point in our method of educationing our kids is clear. 
Jul 11, 2012 3:01AM

As Caity says, most homework is busy work, repetative assignments meant to drill someone into a kids head, not really teach them anything. Sendnig home 20 pages of math problems with a kid would only help if it's something they are still trying to actively learn. However, if it's something the kid already knows, and has known from day one (or even before day one, as I did) then it's just time consuming busy work. Homework is meant to be practice to help a kid get better at whatever subject it is, but if you don't need the practice than it won't do you any good. For example, in middle school my Algebra class spents MONTHS on learning how to do one type of problem. every night we had at least 30 problems to do for homework. The sad fact of it was, we all understood how to do the work in the first week, which just meant we grew bored in class and stopped caring.

Homework will not challenge a student if the curiculum is not challenging. From sixth grade and on I struggled with passing classes, not because I couldn't do the work, but because I was so mind-numbingly bored with it that I saw no reason to do it. The only time in my high school career that I felt challenged, that I was HAPPY to go to school and learn, was when I went to an alternative school semi built off of the idea of home schooling. Kids did work at their own speed, mostly at home, and they often ended up being able to choose what they wanted to learn. The only reason I passed Geometry (my third time through it) was because I was so callenged by it because I had to do a years worth of work in a months time, which meant I had no time to get bored.

The system doesn't need more homework. It just needs to ask for more from the students. Trust me, they want to be asked for more.

Jul 11, 2012 2:49AM
More homework does not equal more challenge. Schools should actually teach harder material. Giving more homework overwhelms a student, giving meaningful and challenging homework makes it more interesting. As a 2nd year college student, I can safely say that the worst part about our public education is that it is taught for the lowest common denominator. Almost any class that wasn't AP or an interesting elective just felt like a waste of time to me because of how easy it was. As another fact, my AP english class assigned less papers and homework than the normal english class, it's just that the AP class had more meaningful assignments.
Jul 11, 2012 1:55AM
As a student who found the vast majority of my elementary, middle, and high school classes unchallenging, I don't think more homework is the answer. Even though most of the classes weren't very challenging, I still had hours of homework in the afternoon. The thing was, a lot of it was busy work. Like the teachers were just trying to meet some homework quota or something by giving us tedious assignments that just re-hashed the exact same things said in class over-and-over again. Large amounts of homework doesn't force kids to focus. I'm sure there are some kids who thrive under copious amounts of pressure, but you can't apply that strategy to everyone. My honors English teacher in 8th grade assigned us papers due every single class. It didn't make me work harder; it made me (and most of the rest of the class) so overwhelmed that I stopped doing the assignments. It wasn't that I lacked discipline -  I'm a straight A/A&B student; there were literally not enough hours in the time I got home from school to the time I went to bed to do her homework AND all the homework for my other classes too. Trying to fix the problem by heaping on more and more homework makes school challenging in all the wrong ways: the panic-attack-inducing kind of challenging as opposed to the mind-expanding kind of challenging that school is supposed to be. Don't get me wrong I also had some great, challenging-in-the-right-way classes, too, and I learned a lot in those classes, which only served to highlight the short-comings of the mediocre, busy-work classes. It's not the amount of homework - it's the CONTENT and QUALITY of assignments that need to be improved (not just of homework but also in-class work). 

Anyway, there's my 2 cents. I hope all of that was reasonably coherent. 
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