My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me – Karl Taro Greenfeld – The Atlantic

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My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me – Karl Taro Greenfeld – The Atlantic.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink how we’ve structured K-12 school days, the way we ask students to juggle separate subjects, and the whole push toward standardized testing? Maybe? Can I get an amen?

What has changed? It seems that while there has been widespread panic about American students’ falling behind their peers in Singapore, Shanghai, Helsinki, and everywhere else in science and mathematics, the length of the school day is about the same. The school year hasn’t been extended. Student-teacher ratios don’t seem to have changed much. No, our children are going to catch up with those East Asian kids on their own damn time.

Every parent I know in New York City comments on how much homework their children have. These lamentations are a ritual whenever we are gathered around kitchen islands talking about our kids’ schools.

Is it too much?

Well, imagine if after putting in a full day at the office—and school is pretty much what our children do for a job—you had to come home and do another four or so hours of office work. Monday through Friday. Plus Esmee gets homework every weekend. If your job required that kind of work after work, how long would you last?

I’ve been wary of Esmee’s workload, and I’ve often suspected that teachers don’t have any idea about the cumulative amount of homework the kids are assigned when they are taking five academic classes. There is little to no coordination among teachers in most schools when it comes to assignments and test dates.


  1. There are so many issues with American schools it’s unreal. Removing after school homework is a great start. I mean, ALL after school homework. I think it’s a shame that we lock kids down for 8 hours and then send them home with more work they have to sit back down to do. It seems like common sense to either shorten their school day or remove the homework so they can go play, like kids should do. I hated school… HA-TED SCHOOL… WITH A PASSION! The greatest day of my life is the day I got kicked out in tenth grade and never went back to high school. Instead, I took the bullet train to college with a GED that got me into Tech school and then transfered to Clemson (which also got me into a study abroad program for a year in England). I think the way schools are managed is for the birds. We need a better experience for the future generations.

    What if one day we replaced teachers with technology (iPad, Computer, etc.) and had kids meet up once a week for each class? What if we taught classes in a way that was relevant to life after school? What if we found a way to get kids excited about school by tailoring classes to unique personalities? It amazes me that we still live in the dark ages when it comes to schooling. There are so many incredible possibilities that no one has considered.

    **insert middle finger to school system**


    1. Lol. I think the great irony of the Universe would be for you to suddenly be in charge of a school. 😉

      This article raises many questions for me. I didn’t have time to unpack them all in the post; maybe I can get back to it later this week. (Not with the way work is going right now, but we can hope.) I think the only way to reform homework is through radically changing the structure of the school day, and that seems to be out of reach.

      A good example: how do I teach a valid English course without requiring that students do at least some reading outside class? And writing? I got about 4 hours of contact each week and I have to make sure kids emerge from school prepared for college English and able to comprehend texts and hopefully with some love left for words and creativity. Just to expose kids to a breadth of literature demands that they do quite a bit of reading on their own, even if I were to throw out any concept of a literary canon and let them read anything they wanted.

      What’s really at the heart of this issue is “How do we define what it means to be well-educated?” Because I think a lot of random crap is taking up too much time in the school day. Plus nothing is cross-disciplinary or integrated.

      I can’t imagine the public system being willing to change that radically. Also, the parents he cites in his article who want their kids to be loaded down with 4hrs of homework a night — those people scare me.

      Liked by 1 person

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