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The Milton Measure

Homework in Our Head?

by Patrick Huang on Friday, February 12th, 2016

After coming back from practice, you slump down into your chair, backpack crashing onto the floor. You open your computer and make your way to the Schoology homepage, where a long list of homework icons appears on the right. Groaning, you realize that, for the third time this week, you’ll have to stay up until 1:00 AM. You begin to think, and your thoughts revolve around a single, commonly asked question: “Do I really have this much homework… again?!”

All too often at Milton, we hear students discussing that one assignment that took hours to complete. And it’s true. We all know too well the assignment that swallows up our entire night and leaves no time for other subjects of homework. Lab reports, history papers, and math problem sets pile up, one after another. We feel frustrated and drowned in work, questioning whether our teachers’ understand the difficulty of Milton academics. I mean really, how much time do they think we have?

So how much homework should we get? An article by the National Education Association references researcher Harris Cooper’s suggestion that students do 10 minutes of homework per grade. This means that a ninth grader would do 90 minutes of homework, a twelfth grader 120 minutes. However, Class I-III students are expected to do a “bare minimum” of 45 to 60 minutes per class, according to the Student Handbook. So, a senior taking the average five classes would be spending, at least, 225 minutes per night. A typical freshman, taking five courses, is also expected to do approximately three hours of homework, or 35 minutes per class.

Already we see that Milton Academy students probably get more homework than typical high schoolers. Yet, still, we are forgetting one crucial point: spending the “bare minimum” of time on homework will probably not prepare students well enough in the long run. So, clearly it seems that Milton students get too much homework.

But, we should not jump to any conclusions just yet. Cooper also mentions that high school students can and should receive more homework depending on the level of their courses. In other words, we should not compare the homework loads of students taking regularly difficult classes to those taking accelerated or honors courses. Instead, we should realize that students who take more intense courses are making a choice to go more in depth with the material and learn at a faster pace. So naturally, this choice is accompanied by more homework.

Now, let us review the philosophy of homework: teachers want students to become familiar with concepts taught in class. However, more than often, students try to rush through the assignment. Undoubtedly, the desire to simply complete the assignment, instead of try to understand it, prevents students from grasping everything they should. This mentality might even lead to further problems down the road if a teacher’s expectations of his students surpass what they can actually accomplish.

At Milton Academy, many students do take risks, enrolling in higher level classes. But, when homework is too lengthy, students might work more sloppily, defeating the purpose of homework in the first place. Sure, it would be unreasonable to constantly spend more than an hour on each subject, but this is not always the case. Milton Academy’s policy dictates that students cannot be expected to do more than two major assignments per day, and homework extensions should help prevent students from staying up every night.

So, perhaps the real problem is not the amount of work that Milton teachers hand out — although it is a bit too much to handle sometimes — but in the mentality of the students. With the right mindset to embrace the intellectual value in a homework assignment, students might not struggle so constantly. Even more, they wouldn’t just take the easy root when things got tough, copying friends’ answers or pretending to do the English reading. Of course teachers should understand the occasional need for an extension, but they are probably less understanding if their students lack the desire to learn. Can you blame them?

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Posted by Patrick Huang on Feb 12 2016. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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