An often cited study warns against too much homework. “Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good” wrote Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a co-author of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education, [article by Clifton B. Parker]
While excessive homework may be a issue, the bigger question is how much homework is too much, and does it apply to Hawaii schoolchildren? Schools in the above study averaged more than three hours per day. The lowest school mean was 2.38 hours per night and the highest was 3.59. On the surface, there appears to be a large disconnect between the Silicon Valley culture and Hawaii: I can’t fathom my children studying an average of three hours a day outside of school.
Surprisingly, it appears that one Hawaii school does.
Most notably, Iolani School’s homework policy guidelines recommend 30-40 minutes per subject per school night for high school students and 20 minutes for middle school students. If a high school student has five core subjects, that amounts to 200 minutes, or 3 hours and 20 minutes per school night. More importantly, if a student has AP courses, Iolani recommends that the student study one hour per subject per day. That is, if a student has 3 regular core classes and 2 AP classes, she should be doing work outside of school for 4 hours per school night. Granted, these are just guidelines. They do, however, set the tone for expectations. Most importantly, they set the expectations for teachers. Each Iolani teacher should feel comfortable assigning this much work. After all, the school encourages it.
Iolani may be a Hawaii outlier. Furthermore, as a private school, Iolani is a choice that both parents and students have knowingly committed to. Maryknoll recommends 2 hours for middle school, but does not offer a suggested guideline for High School. Punahou does not seem to have suggested time guidelines, nor does Mid Pacific.
Hawaii’s public schools are equally vague, leaving the ultimate decision to the head of school and not the Board. Hawaii’s Board of Education policy states, “The Board of Education supports and encourages homework that strengthens and reinforces learning. Homework is an integral part of a student’s education.” It then goes on to state,
“Schools have the responsibility to:
- · Develop clear policies for assigning and coordinating homework.
- · Work collaboratively with their school community in developing clear homework policies.
- · Communicate the policies to all teachers, parents, and students.
Homework is a shared responsibility among teachers, students, and parents.”
As a general rule I tend toward the more flexible approach: the one that puts the burden of time management on students. Recently I’ve been revisiting that approach. While 4 hours is way more than I believe reasonable — even for students in AP classes — an hour or more for middle school students is more than reasonable. Just as time-management ought to be flexible, so to do approaches to homework. What works for one of my kids does not work for the other. Your thoughts? Tweet them to @EastOahu96825.