Too much homework?

After spending each weeknight up to midnight or more, I figured my 10th grade son deserved a break this weekend: “Let go see the new Captain America film at Chestnut Hill.” His reply was he was not certain he had enough time to complete his homework and take the 2-3 hours out to go see the film.

Are you kidding me?

I realize the year is almost over but in retrospect, and I have said this to his teachers, he has a crushing amount of homework! Far more than I ever had in High School but we live in worlds apart so perhaps that has no import.

He is not alone. Many parents have the same observation.

While I was out canvassing this last election cycle, I spoke with some Newton High School graduates who were attending various colleges and universities.  I asked them if the amount of homework they had in High School better prepared them for college? While none said they were inadequately prepared, they answered about 50/50 whether it was necessary to have so much. And they were at Ivy league and a full gamut of high-octane schools. What do you think? Is it overboard or just right?

Chris Pitts is an award-winning producer, and founder of a pioneer eLearning multimedia company. Dedicated to principles of knowledge-sharing, stewardship of environmental and historic assets, and strengthening communities, Chris has served on the boards of arts organizations, community groups, and the ACLU. He and his family moved to Newton in 2000, where his children enrolled in the Newton Public Schools. Living in the village of Waban, Chris played a lead role in the successful effort to save the Waban Branch Library for community use, help found and run Waban Village Day, and is Vice President of the Waban Improvement Society. Chris is currently an elected councilor and Vice President on the Waban Area Council, where he directs the Future Planning Project, a resident-led process to plan the Waban village residents would like to see in the years ahead.

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Tom Davis

Your son certainly isn’t alone. From the perspective of coaching middle and high school athletes, I’ve noticed that the significant homework load for Newton’s (and Lexington) youth can negatively affects sleep cycles, which of course goes on to negatively impact performance in school, extracurricular activities and beyond. Undoubtedly, too much homework can be counterproductive.

Has the stress of such a heavy workload ever been legitimately evaluated in the context of everything else most Newton kids do these days?

Bob Jampol

The topic has lots of complexity. I retired with my reputation for being a challenging teacher intact. Over the course of my career, however, I also scaled down the demands that I placed on my students I felt it my mission to get my students to read, write, think, and discuss as much as was reasonable. I also strove not to assign busywork for its own sake.
In general, students these days do more schoolwork than my generation did in high school. But are they as informed or as well-rounded? It is difficult to know.
I wish that they did more reading. Alas, because of the homework load, because of the competition from social media, students just don’t read enough.
I also believe that the school day is far too long. The 990 rule, at least in Newton, was a disaster, exacerbating the strain on both teachers and students. The high school day should start at 8 and end at 2, which would allow students involved in extracurricular activities to be home for dinner at a reasonable hour. And let’s be old-school: families should have dinner together almost every day.