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Too Much Homework Can Be Counterproductive

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the studies-funded-by-calvin dept.

Education 573

Spy der Mann writes "An interesting study made by to two Penn State researchers shows that increases in homework may actually hinder educational achievement (Coral Cache) instead of improving it. The researchers analyzed a large amount of data collected by the Third International Study of Mathematics and Sciences (TIMSS) in 1994 from schools in 41 nations across the fourth, eighth and 12th grades. For some analyses, they used data from an identical study carried out in '99." From the article: "An unintended consequence may be that those children who need extra work and drill the most are the ones least likely to get it. Increasing homework loads is likely to aggravate tensions within the family, thereby generating more inequality and eroding the quality of overall education."

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frist?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692034)

I never fail it!

Re:frist?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692282)

CONGRATULASHUNNS!!!1!

Pfffft (1, Insightful)

togofspookware (464119) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692040)

Any kid who's gone to school lately could have told you that. And they had to go and do a study. Dumb.

Hey, go easy on them ... (3, Funny)

ggvaidya (747058) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692049)

They were just doing their homework.

(and no, there isn't a '-1, Corny' moderation option :D sorry)

Re:Pfffft (2, Insightful)

Shepherd Book (888421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692192)

Politics is really gay.

By which you mean that politics is contemptible. This is bigotry, even if that's not how you mean it. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing you wouldn't put up a tagline that says, "Politics is really black".

Re:Pfffft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692215)

Gay contemptible.

I'm sorry you hate homosexuals so much that you would believe that.

Re:Pfffft (2, Insightful)

Chiasmus_ (171285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692258)

I'm guessing you wouldn't put up a tagline that says, "Politics is really black".

And yet most people wouldn't hesitate to put up a tagline that says, "Politics is really lame," despite the fact that technically that's a slur against the handicapped.

And, similarly, while one would get scolded for saying "That guy jewed me out of $50," no one would bat an eye if you said "That guy gypped me out of $50," despite the fact that the latter is every bit as offensive a slur against gypsies as the former is against Jews.

Re:Pfffft (1)

Shepherd Book (888421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692338)

We shouldn't do that either. I struggle with "lame" myself, because I learned that expression when I was very young and never thought about its origin until I was grown.

I try not to be too easily offended. And I also dislike the unbelievably contorted, bland, content-free language that serious PC would foist on us. But somehow I couldn't ignore the use of "gay" as a slur.

So we walk a linguistic tightrope between blandness and bigotry.

waiting for... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692043)

all the 12 year olds who do no homework (and read /. all night) to reply and say they agree

Re:waiting for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692063)

I agree with this post.

Re:waiting for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692135)

thanks dude.... the first time i've posed for a while.... what is with the piture shit on the submit page? rtjuwww? WTF? GGF! oh, that's a 'y' - stupid coders.

Re:waiting for... (1)

Ham_belony (820906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692243)

Are you sure they even can read and understand what is said here? The amount of homework they get just seems to be so big since they are too busy with gameboy and nintendo and xbox and online games. I think some discipline has to be taken into account and the amount of homework should allow the students to still have an active freetime with friends. Why play games if you sit behind your books as well?

Scholarly researchers? (3, Insightful)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692045)

You mean grad students, don't you?

That's like the fox guarding the henhouse.

There is a great amount of discipline that can be learned from doing homework. There is almost a direct one-to-one correlation between doing homework and excelling in classes. Having the ability to trudge through what sometimes seems to be busywork leads to stronger self-control and greater self-confidence when the grade reports come out and all that work has paid off.

If you believe that school is not in the business of molding the characters of students into strong, self-confident, law-abiding citizens, then I could see how you'd rather they did nothing but play.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692056)

ummm... wrong. School is a place in the business of creating an oppressive and fascist an atmosphere as is possible. After that point, anybody who manages to get out without counseling, or flunking, is prepared to handle the real world.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692274)

Troll? Come on, there's some truth to that. Compulsary school uniforms (outside the U.S.) and a very limited choice of haircut means that everyone looks the same. About 50% of teachers (depends on the school) are power-crazy fucks.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (4, Insightful)

MasterOfDisaster (248401) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692064)

While that may be true, if you're going to disagree with an article that mentions not only one, but two studies disagreeing with you, why don't you back that up with a little fact?

Re:Scholarly researchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692069)

Every one of us had to do excessive amounts of homework. None of us is any worse the wear.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692112)

how could you actually prove this point? who's to say, i mean i could of been a better person if i had done LESS homework and maybe socialize more.

instead of doing homework, some kids might have been helping their family do their jobs e.g plumbers etc, that's setting themselves up for life where as everyone goes to school and no body cares about GCSE's anymore

Re:Scholarly researchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692125)

How could you prove it any which way?

It's a little like saying that Microsoft has held back computing progress. Sure, we all hate Microsoft, but where is the tangible proof that there has been any sort of hindrance to the progress of technology?

We all hated homework, but where is the proof that doing a ton of it made us worse off? Where is the proof that having less homework to do would have made us better off?

We can see that less homework makes for happier students, but do happier students make for better students?

Re:Scholarly researchers? (2, Insightful)

Chiasmus_ (171285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692281)

How could you prove it any which way?

Well I know that's supposed to be rhetorical. But, really, it's not an unsolveable problem.

First of all, you can suggest it through correllational research - which is what these guys did. They grabbed and analyzed data from 41 nations, plotted test performance against homework given, and found corellations.

Of course, that's not proof. To prove it, you'd have to run two essentially identical classes side-by-side: one that gets a normal amount of homework (the control group) and one that gets significantly more (the experimental group).

But since we don't generally approve of experimenting with kids' educations like that - the corellational research is enough, at least for me.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (2, Interesting)

robbyjo (315601) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692066)

Yeah, but if the homework were only boring repetitions, the students will feel like working chore and that's bad in planting the value of discipline. Discipline ought to be fostered through the love of what the student doing and through challenge of the given problems. Definitely not chore. If you ask people who excel in their field, this is almost always the case.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692075)

You're talking about motivation, not discipline.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (2, Informative)

robbyjo (315601) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692088)

You're talking about motivation, not discipline.

Old adage says: Good discipline always spring out of good motivation.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692091)

Discipline ought to be fostered through the love of what the student doing and through challenge of the given problems.

That is perhaps the most retarded comment I've ever read here on Slashdot, and I've read a few.

Perhaps you should have had more homework assigned to you or something because you seem to have turned out retarded.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692073)

Uh oh, this one is shiney, has a red stripey thing on it and spins. Must. . . resist. . . .can't. . .

If you believe that school is not in the business of molding the characters of students into strong, self-confident, law-abiding citizens, then I could see how you'd rather they did nothing but play.

Actually, I believe that with all my heart. That's why I'm agin 'em.

KFG

Re:Scholarly researchers? (2, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692101)

If you believe that school is not in the business of molding the characters of students into strong, self-confident, law-abiding citizens ...
No, it's not. It's about giving them the basic knowledge they need in the modern society.

Regarding your comment. I've been one of the best students in my class back in school, and knew a few others. The general pattern was the following: those who did all their homework were those who also get high marks, but simply because they just memorized a lot. When confronted with an unusual question, they were lost. Of course, since tests usually didn't have any such questions (as they were made by those same people who written the textbooks used for homework assignments), it wasn't a problem. On the contrary, those who didn't do homework but still scored high were usually the students who could actually think for themselves, and find solutions to new types of problems.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (2, Insightful)

Chiasmus_ (171285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692184)

No, it's not. It's about giving them the basic knowledge they need in the modern society.

What, so you think the government provides public educations for completely altruistic reasons?

The man considered the father of public education - I can't recall his name off the top of my head - declared that there were two reasons for public education:

1. To increase economic growth by providing citizens with job skills and foundations for job skills; and

2. To increase the nation's military readiness by teaching patriotic/nationalistic ideals.

Later, the "military readiness" was expanded upon - it was officially recommended that schools establish a concept of "school spirit" and compete against each other. The idea was that a student fanatically and irrationally dedicated to a school would be more likely to become a citizen fanatically and irrationally dedicated to a nation.

Since then, the purposes of public education have expanded even more - including addressing health problems (e.g. through health classes, P.E., and sexual education) and social problems (e.g. through the D.A.R.E. program, if it worked, and through programs like busing to create interracial schools).

Consider for a moment just how much of what they taught you in high school was "basic knowledge you need in the modern society." By seventh grade, most of us could do arithmetic and basic algebra, read directions and the daily news, and write well enough to express basic ideas. We were fully qualified for the majority of agricultural and industrial jobs, and plenty of service jobs, too.

So we went into high school with the basic knowledge we need in modern society. That's not what we were there for.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1)

syukton (256348) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692221)

Regarding #2 there, I have a question: why isn't firearm usage and safety taught in schools? You'd think it would help cut down on the accidental shootings that kids keep getting themselves into.

High school is not necessary, I wish they'd just abolish it and just move people into college sooner.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1)

Chiasmus_ (171285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692248)

Regarding #2 there, I have a question: why isn't firearm usage and safety taught in schools? You'd think it would help cut down on the accidental shootings that kids keep getting themselves into.

Probably because it makes more sense to do that in boot camp - which is, when you think about it, just another form of public education.

After all, it's clearly in the State's interest that its military carries more and better guns, and has more and better training, than its civilians. The ability to rise up against a corrupt government may have been a reason for the Second Amendment - but, not surprisingly, the State doesn't see it that way anymore.

And it's certainly not Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692109)

Scholarly researchers? ... Third International Study of Mathematics and Sciences

And it's flawed on another level too: this alleged study of Mathematics and Sciences is being done by non-mathematicians and non-scientists, neither of which would be seen dead doing such a crappy handwaving survey and drawing totally unsupported conclusions.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1, Interesting)

Mazem (789015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692123)

There is almost a direct one-to-one correlation between doing homework and excelling in classes.

If by "excelling in classes", you mean getting a good grade then yeah, thats by design. Homework counts towards your grade, so if you do it you get a better grade. On the other hand if you mean better overall understanding of the material then I call BS. Until you show some solid evidence, I'm sticking to my personal experience which dictates exactly the opposite.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692141)

If you believe that school is not in the business of molding the characters of students into strong, self-confident, law-abiding citizens

Slaves.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692300)

I don't think you'd actually want "strong, self-confident" slaves. Weak and cowed would be the order of the day.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (2, Interesting)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692144)

There is almost a direct one-to-one correlation between doing homework and excelling in classes.

I stopped doing homework when I was around 12-13 (don't remember exactly), I've almost always been in top 5 of the class (and in logical stuff, like maths and physics and things like that, usually the best).

Having the ability to trudge through what sometimes seems to be busywork leads to stronger self-control

Now there's where the gotcha lies. I have terrible self-control, and really have to push myself to get just about anything done. I even have so low attention span that I often get bored of a movie before the intro is finished and go do something else (and that's MEANT to be entertaining, can you imagine what that will do to boring work?)

So the morale of my tale? Homework isn't neccesary connected with grades, but it's connected with the ability to get actual work done.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692149)

There is no reason to do busywork to build character. Kids could actually accomplish useful things and learn discipline that way. Busywork is the antithesis of education. And frankly, practice is the antithesis of what I actually care to know. I don't care if I can do a math problem in 5 seconds or 5 minutes. I only care that I understand why it works and what the answer is. Since math isn't important in the real world for most people (been saying it since third grade and it's still true) the practice is pretty useless. I can't remember how to do long division. I can't write in cursive. They are useless skills that I have utterly forgotten. If I need to, however, I could recreate long division or another method that worked just as well.

If you are dumb you'll do the work like the rest of the sheeple. If you are smart you'll buy a freakin' calculator and spend the time learning something useful like programming or mechanics. You'll realize that grades are meaningless labels that have nothing to do with what you learned, and you'll start to teach yourself instead of waiting to be spoon-fed. Even most college courses I've taken barely cover the content of a book I can buy on Amazon for $20. I don't need my hand held and I don't want my kids to think they need their's held either. Our ed system coddles rather than supports. If you want kids to learn discipline, teach them another language or an instrument. Those are long, difficult processes that actually have a meaningful payoff. As opposed to grades, which are trophies that lose their meaning as soon as they are achieved.

But I'll let you get back to your PTA meeting where you'll push for more homework. Why only do the even numbers, after all... the publisher obviously though they should do them all!

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1)

SpikyTux (524666) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692179)

I can recall my school days - I've done perhaps less than 10% of all the homeworks. Yet I'm almost always top of the class.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1)

Ham_belony (820906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692344)

I missed out on homework as well and hoped they wouldn't catch me while copying it from the one next to me, I excelled in most of my classes but still one class, french, which I could use some extra work, while for business french I also excelled as those were just things you could memorize. But the homework for students should be up to their level of understanding and some extra for those that need the extra work and reduce the obligatory homework teachers have to give according to their education plan they have to setup for each schoolyear. Doing homework is not always easy especially in specialty courses where most of the time you are still trying to figure out what you have to do to complete it.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692181)

That's a bit of an overstatement. I found at degree level that the kind of person who spent hours doing their homework every night while at school very often struggled when introduced to a world where problems are not arranged in neat groups on one side of A4.
Give them a problem sheet and they were quite happy to go and sit down and quietly work through it. Ask them to actually apply that knowledge, or to solve a different, related, problem, or even (heaven-forbid) ask them to combine several ideas at once and suddenly they start to have real trouble. Homework, and the modern style of exam where each question is neatly split up into separate sections for each idea, are great for teaching single, easily examinable facts. But they also instill a very limited, linear mindset which can leave students struggling in the future.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (2, Interesting)

say (191220) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692293)

There is almost a direct one-to-one correlation between doing homework and excelling in classes.

I have lots of anecdotal evidence that this is bullshit. I have better grades than many, many of those who did homework in upper secondary.

Re:Scholarly researchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692301)

I have lots of anecdotal evidence that this is bullshit. I have better grades than many, many of those who did homework in upper secondary.

s/anecdotal evidence/bullshit allegorical stories/g;

Re:Scholarly researchers? (1)

CalexAtNoon (859302) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692355)

I remember when i was a child doing excessive homework as a collective punishement from my school teacher when someone misbehavied.
And I remember doing a lot of chores that didn't thaught me anything, like copying one text or more 5 times, or writting a bunch of words 10 times each, and i was doing the work completely numb.
Homework is necessary but too much is disrupting, it interferes with all other learning activities.

Productive? (1)

Pretendstocare (816218) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692046)

I know that if I had more HW I wouldn't be up at 1:50 AM looking at /. is that productive or not?

Counterproductive (1)

kf6auf (719514) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692240)

I know if I had less homework I wouldn't be up at 3:00 AM wasting time on /.

I would be sleeping now and doing actual research during the day instead of working all night and sleeping never and posting to /. so I have have a break.

Too much is bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692050)

You've got to be kidding me... doing parts a-r of problem 3 which is for all intensive purposes exactly like problems 1 and 2 can have deleterious effects?

I think whoever wrote this needs to do problem 4, parts a - f.

Re:Too much is bad? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692161)

And I guess you missed that part of the homework where you learned that the expression is "FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES", not "intensive purposes", you illiterate hick!

We're now in 2005.... (1)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692051)

Where's the website where you post your homework and somebody on the other side of the World does it for you for a couple of dollars....?

Re:We're now in 2005.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692068)

THE website?

Re:We're now in 2005.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692167)

It's called Google Answers:
http://answers.google.com/answers/ [google.com]

Google schmoogle (2, Funny)

sela (32566) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692230)


You're missing the point here.

Paying 2.5$ or more for an answer is not the way to egaletarian society. We need a truely affordable service if we want to make such a service accessible for the poor as well, and bridge the gap.

We are in the 21th centuty. We live in a globalized world.

What we need to to harness the power of the global economy. What we need is "Homework sweetshops", where kids in other parts of the world, earning 0.5$ a day, would solve your homework for 0.05$!

Isn't it a fine, nobel vision?

Oops ... ment "sweatshop" (n/c) (1)

sela (32566) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692245)


My bad

Assigning homework isn't teaching (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692053)

But it sure is easier.

It results in things like the current /. fortune:

Why don't you fix your little problem... and light this candle? -- Alan Shepherd, the first man into space, Gemini program

If this doesn't make you cry you probably had too much homework and too little teaching.

KFG

Re:Assigning homework isn't teaching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692076)

Didn't you get the memo? Non-Americans, particularly those from an enemy or former enemy nation, don't count as real people.

[/troll]

Re:Assigning homework isn't teaching (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692115)

Well yeah, sure, that goes without saying, but it still leaves an explanation lacking for how one can understand this word - "Gemini" - and not know there must be something amiss with this statement - "First man into space".

French 7 didn't carry no sidecar.

KFG

And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692054)

This article is very vague. I personally don't think this is anything new and ground breaking, other than now there is scientific evidence to back up the claims.
-BZ

Nice try. (3, Funny)

TylerTheGreat (848804) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692061)

Nice try, but that excuse never worked for me when I was in school.

Wow... (1)

SpottedKuh (855161) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692065)

...you mean a study figured out that: An unintended consequence may be that those children who need extra work and drill the most are the ones least likely to get it?

I only wish I were on the research team that published such an insightful conclusion as: Children that need extra help are likely those who are having problems in a subject.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: </sarcasm>

need better teachers, not more work (2, Insightful)

Helix150 (177049) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692080)

Not a bad study, and having gone through the system I tend to agree with it, but for other reasons.
Kids who are assigned a heavy homework load will more often than not procrastinate and put it off until late at night, at which point they will have to stay awake to finish it and won't get enough sleep. This makes the kid tired in class the next day, so (s)he won't learn as well. Studies DO show that getting a good night's sleep has a large effect on what you learn- sleep helps you lock in what you learned during the day. Think of it like flushing a RAM buffer to disk. Not a step to be skipped.
Lastly- most of the teachers I had (granted this was a while ago) who assigned heavy homework also were not particularly good at their jobs. They did not encourage or develop interesting class discussions, the lesson was a series of objectives on a paper which must be completed. BORING. Better teachers can engage students and make them want to learn, sadly the system as we have it does not attract or keep such teachers...

If you want kids to do better- get better teachers, not more work.

Re:need better teachers, not more work (1)

Adrilla (830520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692117)

I think that when you are doing such a grand amount of homework, it's hard to retain a lot of it, which defeats the purpose of assigning it and I think that the more you pile on the more that gets forgotten. I do hope that more teachers learn from this study and start assigning a useful amount instead of overloading kids, which combined with other teachers loads, just start cancelling out each other's lessons.

TANSTAAFL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692146)

Although you're arguing for the apple pie of better teaching, with which nobody would disagree, most of the lack of learning in school is because the kids don't want to learn, not because of bad teaching, but you're using this to cast a slant on homework instead.

The fact of the matter is, you learn almost nothing from just listening, but a huge amount from doing. Any argument that reduces the amount of work that is done will inevitably lead to less being learned.

The only way in which you could reduce the amount of homework without reducing the amount being learned is by increasing the number of hours spent in class. The vast majority of kids would not prefer that --- at least with homework they have the freedom to ignore it and choose to be dumbasses the rest of their lives.

Re:need better teachers, not more work (1)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692157)

Heh. My brain needed around 2-3 hours to "wake up" every morning. Which meant that I almost never did anything and almost never learnt anything at the start of the school day.

Re:need better teachers, not more work (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692267)

Some perspective from a current high-school student (just finished junior year last week, all honors classes)...

I second the parent poster's claim that heavy homework loads cause kids to lose sleep. The kids I knew with the heaviest workloads (around 3 hours of homework a night) would rarely, if ever, get enough sleep. While I only had 1 to 2 hours of regular work per night, I frequently had to work on some project or another for class that added another hour or two to the nightly load. My friends usually stayed up two or three hours late to do their work (often getting only 5 hours of sleep); I stayed up for an hour or two and then woke up two hours early (many times I would run on four hours' sleep). One could argue that it's entirely our fault for putting it off, but to be perfectly honest, almost nobody sees homework as their top priority. Even teenagers have better things to do than another fifty variations on the same math problem.

Heavy homework loads also gave rise to a different problem: cheating. In AP Chemistry, the teacher assigned one to two hours of homework a night, all repetitive busywork problems from the textbook. About one third of the students actually did the work - the rest copied their work. It wasn't a fixed group supplying everyone else with the answers, either. Every day, the kids who'd found time to do the work in another class or hadn't had much other homework would bring in the answers and hook up the kids who hadn't done it. These were honors students who would never cheat on a test, and often knew the material extremely well - but just didn't feel like balancing another sixty-two chemical reactions.

The problem here is both the amount of the work and the nature of the work. Simply doing the work without procrastinating would mean spending half the free time we get each night on tedious, repetitive busywork. It really doesn't help that we're doing it at home, either. Would you like it if your boss sent you home every day with another two hours' worth of paperwork to do?

Here's the problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692288)

Most of the people posting that homework is necessary and despite everyone hating it it is actually very useful and desireable are actually adults.

Most of the rest are college and high school kids like yourself.

The difference here is life experience and perspective. Kids can't see past their next grade reports, but adults are able to see the whole picture.

You show a lot of maturity for a 16-17 year old kid. What you need now is experience.

Would you like it if your boss sent you home every day with another two hours' worth of paperwork to do?

You'd be surprised what the real world is actually like.

Re:need better teachers, not more work (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692275)

Agree, and yet, disagree.

As a (former) high school student, I can tell you a number of things about homework and its current state in schools.

Facts where I came from:
1) Too much homework is assigned.
2) Very few people do homework.
3) Those that do homework rarely do it well.

1 - Teachers give too much homework, and the problem only increases if the student is in "honors"/AP/GT/K-Level/"upper-level" classes. The alarming misconception is that students who choose to take a harder/more strenuous curriculum need more homework. Regardless, my personal experience had me doing, at times, eight-ten hours of homework a night (granted, I was taking all honors courses). I was spending more time DOING HOMEWORK than I was AT SCHOOL. Granted, those were the especially bad nights that only happened once every two weeks or so, usually when two teachers decided to make two major grades due on the same day. I'd say average homework for a night was three hours of homework.

2 - I was one of the few students who actually completed my homework (yes, I'm your definitive nerd (I mean, I AM posting on slashdot)). Most students simply cheat/copy homework. Usually one friend does the work (usually poorly) and the others simply hand-transfer the answers/work over to their own paper and put their name on it. They easily get away with this because a) the teachers are assigning so much homework that they never bother to actually _check_ any of it and b) its so commonplace that many teachers have gotten accustomed to accepting copied homework.

3 - The ones that do the homework rarely do it well because what is assigned is usually an exercise in tedium (read: "busy work"). Outlining the textbook, vocabulary lists, posters, pointless worksheets. All the work with none of the lessons - the teachers assign something that the student can subsequently complete and it's assumed that both parties are doing their job. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Bad teachers are a huge part of the problem, and most homework is the lazy way of working. Of course, I'm not a vindictive student against work - I acknowledge that some homework is beneficial. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novels for my English class, practicing my Spanish speaking, learning algorithms for Computer Science, and practicing my instrument for Band. Unfortunately, I have piles of worksheets, summaries, and assignments that have absolutely no bearing on the course or on understanding the subject material.

Having said all this, I don't think the main problem is with the teachers however. Students themselves are the main problem. Day after day I watched people sleep through classes even though they'd just awoken from their eight hour nightly snooze - I've seen countless students copy homework, cheat on tests, "share" projects - I've watched hormones supersede learning as students spend class flirting and holding hands. Today's students are just purely apathetic to the educational system, regardless of the teaching quality. Even the most intelligent, insightful teachers can hardly break the shell of teenagers these days - all the students do is fabricate elaborate ways to listen to their iPods during class or figure out how to surreptitiously change the ink barrel of their pen from red to black (and vice versa).

No wonder the teachers don't feel like teaching when the students don't feel like _learning_. Student discussion is limited to pop culture, with learning experiences coming when a senior finds out that the word is pronounced "conscience" rather than "con-science" (this was in the honors course, by the way). Literature is all but abhored among students - I'd wager that I could count the number of students in my English course that actually finished Dostoevsky's _Crime and Punishment_ on one hand. Shakespeare recieved even less attention and many students were even too lazy to read the Spark/Cliff/PinkMonkey notes. Get the students to care, and maybe the teachers would.

Of course, students might care if they weren't suffocating under the massive amounts of homework given, but I doubt it.

That's pretty obvious. (4, Insightful)

osrevad (796763) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692083)

Too much of anything can be counterproductive

Re:That's pretty obvious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692106)

What about productivity?

Ban homework! (1)

busman (136696) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692114)

It was bad enough that I had to be in school most of the day, then they wanted me to bring some work home!

I found out early that if you just refused to do it, most teachers would give up!

I remember one Nun in 1st class who got very "agatated' and started to foam around the mouth 'cause I woun't do my homework for her.

Re:Ban homework! (1)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692143)

I remember one Nun in 1st class who got very "agatated' and started to foam around the mouth 'cause I woun't do my homework for her.

And look how great you turned out!

Jesus, I hope you're kidding.

Re:Ban homework! (1)

busman (136696) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692278)

I wasn't! and come to thing of it it was my english homework ;-)
Language was never my strong point!

Another example off... (2, Interesting)

Mister Impressive (875697) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692116)

Scientific Research That Could Have Been Avoided [slashdot.org]

I feel they're just stating the obvious here - I'm currently a high school student, and I do NOT do homework, unless I feel I need to. If there's subject concepts or theories that I'm already aware of and understand, why do the homework? It just adds more to the pile that I have every night. It doesn't take a grad student to work out doing the work that applies to yourself is more relevant and useful than just doing everything in the book. My teachers also share this view and only collect work that goes towards the report card - if you don't do the work to at least understand it, you'll fuck up the exam, end of story.

However, I'm currently in year 11 and I can work out my own study regime - what needs to be done in years 7-10, is students need to receive a constant inflow work, getting a routine at home happening. It doesn't need to be a truck load, but sufficient enough to keep the student busy for an hour at the least.

Homework sucks - but it's just the beginning of it (5, Insightful)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692122)

Given a choice, I'd rather not do homework at all. But as it turns out that's the least unpleasant choice in front of me - sort of the lesser of the evils. In the long run, it's the easy way to a nice life (and in the long long run, we're all dead anyway).

Homework isn't pretty - but it teaches you how to sit down and do stuff. The real problem is that most homework is the hard stuff - makes some children think and most of them give up. I used to postpone it and do an all nighter , my sister used to finish her homework the day she got it... it sort of carries over into how you handle problems in real life too (unfortunately).

My parents just gave up on trying to make me do homework when I was around 11 or 10 years old. I think it helped me think my way around problems - by the time I was 17 I was ranked in the top 50 students in the state. Unorthodox methods (I remember being kicked out of class for asking the proof of Pythagoras Theorem) and a couple of good teachers pushed me through the indifference barrier that these kids are stuck at (translated as "why should I always be studying ?").

I spent most of my life learning stuff - but I studied around 4 or 5 years. Too bad the world doesn't realize they need problem solvers of a practical nature - not guys who know calculus by heart.

Let me quote Calvin here - They only teach stuff any fool can look up in a book .

Re:Homework sucks - but it's just the beginning of (2, Insightful)

arose (644256) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692229)

Homework isn't pretty - but it teaches you how to sit down and do stuff.
Speak for yourself, the only thing I ever learned from homework is how to weasle out of work.

Re:Homework sucks - but it's just the beginning of (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692237)

I went through secondary school trying to do as little home work as possible. For the most part I could finish the work that was set during the lesson. Sometimes I would be a little more creative and finish the work that had to be handed up and the beginning of one class during the previous unrelated class. In my last 2 years of secondary school this became easier as I then had free periods during the day. But I basically didn't do any work at home for the entire 5 years including exam revision. Only a couple of students achieved higher grades than I did, and that is mostly because I didn't care about getting high marks, I only cared about getting the work finished.
Did I get in trouble for not doing work? yes.
Could everyone get away with it? probably not.
My opinion, everyone is different. The school system should not be a one size, one workload, fits all approach. Some people may require more repetition to help them remember things. Others may require more interesting problems to keep interested.
Is there a point to this rambling? probably not.

Re:Homework sucks - but it's just the beginning of (3, Insightful)

jwdb (526327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692251)

I honestly hope you never get your wish of removing homework from the curriculum.

I went through high school in the US, hating homework like everyone else. Then I moved to Europe for college and discovered what a blessing homework really is. Thing is, my university here has no homework, no papers, and maybe one or two projects in the semester (total, not per class), so your ENTIRE grade is based on a 4-hour usually-verbal exam.
I get 10 weeks of classes and recitations, during which I do jack sh*t in my free time. I then get 3 weeks off to study, which I desperately need, and then 3 weeks to take 6 exams. Let me tell you, those 6 weeks are the most stressful I've ever experienced - by the 4th week I'm usually mildly depressed due to stress.

That's the blessing of homework - it spreads the work out over the year. I'm not sure how you'd feel about this system, but I'd kill for some homework right about now... (I'm in the 3rd week - serious crunch time)

Jw

Re:Homework sucks - but it's just the beginning of (1)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692360)

In respect to parental attitude, i guess mine were similar, though it wasnt so much that they gave up on trying to get me to do homework, they never tried. I always liked getting into school a bit early so that id have time in the common room to do any work i had in for anytime before lunch, the rest quickly done in lunch break. Sometimes i ran out of time, but didnt learn much from it, i havent changed.

Im sitting here, reading, posting, even though ive got an exam tomorrow morning for which i havent been to a single lecture and havent even seen the material. I know that there are 5 past papers, with solutions out there and i know that having taken the exam the knowlege used to pass it will be useless to me. I realised that unless you have a real desire to learn, as you appear to have (i had a great teacher in college (UK, college = 16-18 year olds) who drove us to do university mathematics in lessons, i was studying further mathematics (yet again, the UK system, A-levels in mathematics and further mathematics, had about 3 hours a day of it, mechanics, statistics, pure, logic, bit of everthing)).

It really is amazing how much of an impact a good teacher can have. You mentioned the indifference barrier, a very important concept. He is probably the reason im finding university mathematics as easy as i am, and unfortunately the reason that i feel most other teachers/lecturers are incompetent retards (im sorry for the phrasing but...). Im sure that they are good at what they do (well, the lecturers) but most of them have no bond with any of their students. They dont care and shouldnt be teaching.

Ive lost the point i wanted to make, but ill post this anyway. I agree that learning is so much more important than studying, hopefully the world will realise that soon enough. I suggest you try going for work where they give you a 2 day assessment day as part of the interview process. In trading for example you get rewarded more for the practical side of problem solving, an innate mathematical ability being more important than the grades.

buh... (1)

Blaaguuu (886777) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692127)

I've known about this for years... which is why I rarely do homework... and I'm geting soemthing like $6000 a year from the college im attending, for my good grades, so I must be doing soemthing right... right?

Re:buh... (1)

fuzzybunny (112938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692177)

...and I'm geting soemthing like... (sic)
:-)

It's not easy (4, Insightful)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692136)

The there's also the issue of student motivation to actually study in the first place. Unless you have an active and ongoing interest in a particular topic, you are usually not particularly motivated to study it.
Nobody at home forced me to take an interest in computers and electronics. Nobody gave me homework

You can only thrust so much work at kids, but the REAL learning starts happening when the kids start LEARNING FOR THEMSELVES and feel comfortable coming to the teacher with all sorts of difficult questions. Rather than the current top->down method of throwing facts around, hoping they stick, and asking the students questions they have no motivation to answer for themselves.

The main problem is, at a young age kids aren't motivated to want to slug away at homework... little do they realise that sooner or later their formative years are going to be gone and the workforce will be waiting for them. In a way I guess they have to be forced, but it is not the best way to learn IMHO.

All in all, teaching is not an easy job. Teaching kids to think, rather than giving them all the answers is tricky.

Re:It's not easy (1)

jwdb (526327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692211)

I agree with what you said, but I also believe that there's more to it. I'm an EE major, I knew I was gonna be an EE major ten years ago, and I've been studying EE in my free time. However, there is no way I would be any good at it without being forced to learn some of the less interesting aspects (at least for me). I tend to love practical circuits and such, but without the mathematics theory used to analyse and design them I'm dead in the water.

Yes, you have to be interested and motivated to truly learn. However, someone with interest but no guidance will learn a lot slower, as they'll study only what they 'like'.

That's why I'm slugging away at this communications text book right now, hoping that I pass the exam so they'll let me study more circuits next semester.

Jw

Re:It's not easy (1)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692238)

I tend to love practical circuits and such, but without the mathematics theory used to analyse and design them I'm dead in the water
Dude, wait till you get a job - boy are you going to be pissed when you find out you're only going to use maybe 10% of what you learned in school. You'll see.

Re:It's not easy (1)

jwdb (526327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692264)

I sincerely doubt I won't be using calculus, to use it as an example. It's also not only the knowledge but the techniques - are you able to look at a general circuit and at least get an idea of what it does?
Hell, take amplifiers - the designs haven't changed in the last 60 years. I'm learning now a number of MOSFET circuits that I spotted in a WW2-era book on vacuum tubes. Improved, but the same idea nontheless...

Yes I know I will need to learn quite a bit to do any kind of significant work. The thing is, if your college curriculum is at all good, they'll teach you the theory that your later training will be based on (that's the idea here anyway).

Jw

Re:It's not easy (1)

Chiasmus_ (171285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692232)

You can only thrust so much work at kids, but the REAL learning starts happening when the kids start LEARNING FOR THEMSELVES and feel comfortable coming to the teacher with all sorts of difficult questions.

That's basically a question of intrinsic (personal) versus extrinsic (reward/punishment based) motivation - and yes, given a choice between the two, intrinsic motivation works better every time. And I'm sure everyone's seen that in real life - a programmer who he loves writing code will code in circles around some guy who just figured a CS degree would be the best way to make six figures.

But with respect to extrinsic motivation - not all extrinsic motivation is created equal. Where rewards outweigh punishments, a person will be moderately motivated to perform the task wel. Where punishments outweigh rewards, a person will generally be motivated only to avoid the task entirely.

A grade is both a punishment and a reward depending on how it is received. But generally, a family that strongly rewards good grades and only weakly punishes bad grades will create a student extrinsically motivated to score high marks. A family that simply expects good grades and strongly punishes bad grades will create a student who figures out how to "get by" in school and then, once out from under his parents thumb, has an aversion to anything widely considered "success" and may actually avoid, for example, finishing college or applying for high-paying jobs. The kind of person who, despite being very bright, would work at a record store for minimum wage because he "loves music."

So anyway, my point - and I know it took a while to get there - is that excessive homework is the negative form of extrinsic motivation. Unless success is *heavily* reinforced, it provides way too much negative feedback in comparison to positive. So what it really teaches students is that doing work.. sucks. And that's something that will bleed into their work ethic for the rest of their lives.

And once they have the opportunity for the first time in their lives not to work - guess what?

Old News (1)

stupidkiwi (817077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692137)

I hate to point this out, but over the past decade there have been many studies done by many researchers from many countries that have all found the same basic result. I do not know if this is news in USA or not, but for most of the world, we have been debating the benifits/non benefits of homework pretty heavily for the past five or six years.

News just in: kids don't want to do homework (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692163)

It's hilarious, but sad, to read the comments here.

The fact of the matter is, you're losers, and you don't want to do a few years of evening work to give yourselves a great leg up for the rest of your lives.

Sheesh. Shortsighted.

Re:News just in: kids don't want to do homework (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692231)

you don't want to do a few years of evening work to give yourselves a great leg up for the rest of your lives.

Some people would, and some people wouldn't. The question is what type of homework, and how much, gives people a "great leg up" for the rest of their lives?

It may in fact be that simply doing work helps -- digging ditches, filling out crossword puzzles, doing the same math problem for the 20th time, filling in the ditch again. Or, simply doing work may not help. I don't know, and neither do you.

A necessary evil... (1)

chrisblore (866716) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692164)

I personally do not feel particularly comfortable if I go to bed at night knowing I've done nothing worthwhile during the day!

Homework and private study is a necessary discipline, I think that gives you independence and ultimately prepares you for the real world. Of course everybody is different, but I learn best where I am finding things out for myself, trying new things and methods and figuring out what works and what doesn't by myself. It's all very well sitting in a classroom all day but when it comes to exams and/or the real world and you are unable to live up to expectations placed upon you, you'll be kicking yourself for not bothering to do the homework.

It's not the quantity, it's quality (2, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692165)

The "amount" of homework means little when its content is trivial, and does not do anything but repeat something that should be obvious based on what is learned in class. Application of knowledge to a trivial task just doesn't do anything other than insult the student, however the application of the same to something even slightly challenging, is both useful for remembering the material, and good thinking practice in general.

Of course, making homework less of a mindless chore and more an exercise in thinking means that there will be always some students, who will be unable to complete it because of their insufficient abilities and poor motivation. My response for that will be, SCREW THEM! They won't get much good from a shitty homework, either, and if they are going to drag everyone down into the horrors of rote memorization, there is always a short bus for them, and decent education for the rest. Treating everyone like a retard, accomplishes nothing positive.

Re:It's not the quantity, it's quality (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692269)

The "amount" of homework means little when its content is trivial, and does not do anything but repeat something that should be obvious based on what is learned in class.

On the other hand, in some areas like maths, or learning to drive a car, most students need to go through a certain number of examples in order to master a technique. Call it repetition, drilling, but it's often necessary.

I agree (2, Insightful)

Buster Chan (755016) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692175)

I agree totally with the findings. I've got three brothers, and three sisters. Teachers never understood -- and still don't understand -- the dangers of imposing that their students put more priority towards homework than towards family, relaxation, and social obligations.

A good first step would be for teachers who were "only childs" to take classes about the dynamics of life with siblings. That can lead to better curriculums with workloads that each student can adapt within the balance of their lifestyle.

IMHO... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692190)

... it hinders creativity and engagement. If you like to study, you usually do not like to be told what and when to do things. Too much homework is against those who WANT to do something by THEMSELVES and not need to be told so.

Universities in Germany seem to be very bad at that -- including one's own and specific interests.

Configurable (1)

spockvariant (881611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692217)

The idea of homework is right, since it tries to give students an excuse to learn and be productive, without which they sit around and watch TV all day long. The implementation of it is wrong, since it's too specific and more often than not, forces them into doing things they'd much rather not. All students are interested in at least some subjects. There are students who would prefer to write computer programs that solve differencial equations instead of solving them with pen and paper, or students who'd have more fun writing a formal letter to Mr. Vader asking for permission to use the airspace on Planet X than to the principal of their school to ask for leave (which was typical for the institution I went to). Students need to be forced into motion, but into doing what they want and enjoy, as opposed to what conventions want them to do.

Curmudgeon mode on (1)

seanellis (302682) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692220)

Well, when I was at school...

From age 7-10, we had one subject's homework per night, estimated time 45 minutes.

From age 11-18, we had 3 subjects per night, except Thursdays, when we had 4. Estimated time 45 minutes each.

Luckily, I could usually do the maths in about 15 minutes, which left more time for the tedious history and English lit.

Kids today - don't know they're born, etc. etc. back to Russia.

Here in the UK we get this spectacularly wrong (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692234)

Our exams rely on 'coursework' for grades, so a parent who wants to 'help' their child can practically pass the exam for them, which the teachers love because they have their work done for them.

The teaching profession has never grasped the mind-numbingly simple concept that if a pupil knows a topic, they don't need to keep on 'learning' it by doing homework about it.

If teachers were to reward comprehension with exemption from homework, then they would give pupils the perfect incentive to learn. The way our system works does not test learning or comprehension, it tests merely attendance and dilligence - or at worst, the ability of a child's parent to write convincingly childish essays.

Re:Here in the UK we get this spectacularly wrong (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692272)

The UK system is currently screwed beyond belief, has been for many years and doesn't appear to be going to get any better. Exam scores are going up, yet actual ability as measured by universities and employers is dropping.

A-level maths, for example, got easier every year. I remember getting a load of past exam papers and comparing them: year by year, the syllabus got smaller, the questions got easier and more and more subdivided. Instead of asking one question, they would ask ten small question that lead the student by the hand through the problem.

Something is wrong when an intelligent student can get four good A-levels and hardly have to work at all.

Star Wars (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692257)

Anakin falls to the dark side, because Obi wan gives him all the right answers and never challenges Anakin to think about what the right answers were. ...until he finally figures it out in Episode VI, but by then, it's a bit late.

No Shit (1)

gabba_gabba_hey (309551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692270)

NO SHIT!! ;)

Can't get a job, don't have a degree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692296)

become a cop.

Can't get a job, have a degree, teach.

It's not the students, it's the crappy environment we put them in. Everything is taught out of context.

It's not that difficult to tie all subject matter through history. Kids are biologically driven to socialize, yet the social context of human development, a most interesting and the most influential aspect, is totally ignored by educators.

Why? Because so few of the friggin educators have any interest themselves.

Dear Zonk, please stop lowering my IQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12692313)

I have never seen someone promote so much pseudo science horse shit garbage in my entire time here at Slashdot.

Please end yourself now,

-AC

In other news... (1)

Malcolm Scott (567157) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692320)

Too much Slashdot can be counterproductive for homework.

The Purpose of Drill (1)

mburns (246458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692325)

Sci. Am. had the definitive article on learning back in 1953. There, it was argued that drill and repetition have their role in conceptual learning until insight is achieved. But, there is no quality to be gained afterward from repetition, but only the durability of memory. This was said to be in contrast to the value of simple repetition in improving the quality of athletic and manual skills.

And, contrast the plight of the gifted to normal classroom practice, where they often require no drill at all to acquire concepts, but only an adequate statement of the relevant principles.

Projects should be used for the sake of memory, not drill.

I say BS (1)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | more than 9 years ago | (#12692354)

The general attitude towards school these days is pathetic. They think the teachers just assign shit so they can sit around and do nothing, or busy work. Like it or not you can memorize formulas, rules, and standards but that isn't the point. You're not supposed to just learn the material, you're supposed to learn how to APPLY the material. I can only speak from personal experience, but repitition is the only way I learn and my grades show it. I remember a trig class in high school I took. The teacher assigned 20 points worth of homework every night, the A problems being worth 1pt a piece, the B worth 2pts, and the C worth 3pts. I did every single problem you could do every single night (out of boredom really). My exams were perfect and I got a 120% in the class. Let's skip foward to college real quick. My calculus 1 class I did probably 90% of the homework and I got an A in the class, uncurved. My chemistry 1 class I did probably 75% of the homework and got an A- in the clas, though to be fair the grades were curved so that should be taken into account. In my physics 1 class I did virtually no homework and got a B in the class, this class was also heavily curved and by all rights I should have failed (anything less than a C- being a failing grade).

If kids don't want to take their education seriously then that's their problem, or will be in the future. It isn't the homework that's the problem, it's the mentality of the students.
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