Can a National Campaign Get Schools to Rethink Homework?

Even the PTA agrees that homework needs to be reworked. Could this new campaign end homework as we know it?

Summer vacation means the nation's students have a respite not just from the school day but from the hours of homework they're required to complete every night. Homework evangelicals will tell you that assigning kids math problems to do while seated at the kitchen table helps them master what's been taught in class. But for the nearly 18,000 parents, educators, and policy makers who signed a petition presented to the National PTA last week advocating new "Healthy Homework Guidelines", homework as it's currently implemented in schools kills students' curiosity and inhibits learning.

The campaign was created by the Race to Nowhere Community, a movement that grew out of support for the grassroots 2009 documentary Race to Nowhere which took a hard look at why so many students are breaking under the pressure of our test-heavy, homework intensive culture. Education experts and medical professionals who support the guidelines cite research that shows "diminishing returns for middle and high school students as the hours spent doing homework increased" and "increased stress and academic disengagement among both young children and teens."

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Getting Under My Skin: When "Tiger Mother" Meets "Race to Nowhere"

Frustrated kids and conflicting messages about education are leaving parents more confused than ever about how to handle our "achievement culture".

My 15-year-old daughter stopped talking to me last week. During a long car ride I suggested quizzing her on literature vocab words for her upcoming mid-terms, knowing that concentrated study time at home needs to go to her four AP classes. She reluctantly pulled out the flash cards she made for the test, and I asked her, “What is ‘arduous’?” “Um, is it like when, sort of, you…uggh…I don’t know.”

I lost it. “‘Arduous’—you take all these hard classes and you don’t know ‘arduous’? Are you kidding me?” Then it got worse, and as usual, I ended with, “I’m blocking your Facebook.”

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