And still the surveys keep on coming! We now have a report of at least three that seem to show that students in this country are not exactly drowning in homework. The University of Michigan found that half the kids in their survey did no homework at all while another found that the average time spent on homework is just a little over 19 minutes a day. In still another study, UCLA researchers found that only about 1/3 of all high school seniors did more than an hour of homework each weeknight. Of course, many high school teachers are surprised if seniors pay attention to their classes at all during second semester.
All of this flies in the face of the furor that has been stirred up in the past few years by parent groups, "educational experts" and others who have detailed the "burden" that homework puts on kids and their families.
Although U.S. students probably have always complained about homework, many adults have taken up their cause. Some school boards, particularly in the Washington area, have passed homework guidelines in reaction to stories of fifth-graders putting in three hours a night.
The Arlington School Board [a Washington-area district], in 2001, voted to set a maximum of 50 minutes a night for second-graders and three hours a night for high school students — similar to guidelines in other local districts — and some educators across the country suggested reviving 1930s laws that banned homework as child labor.
A recent book, "The End of Homework: How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning," has been a popular topic on talk shows.
All these surveys are good fun but worthless. The amount of homework kids do nightly is a meaningless statistic. In schoolwork, as in most other things in life, it’s quality not quantity that counts. Good teachers know that busy work, whether done at home or at school, does nothing to improve learning.