Psychology surrounding the educational process in the United States suggests that perhaps American students are overworked. Our students are tested more than their peers around the globe, yet perform lower in many subjects. Could too much homework be adding unnecessary stress as well?
Yes, say a small but extremely vocal minority. Parents, psychologists, and mental health experts are growing concerned by the amount of homework that Americans are receiving year after year – and the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing any time soon. While the National Education Association has recommended guidelines concerning homework, these are often exceeded. For instance, the guidelines by the NEA suggest that students should have no more than 10 minutes of homework per grade level. For example, a fifth grader should have a maximum of 50 minutes of homework per night while a freshman in high school should study no more than an hour and a half per evening.
According to William Crain, PhD who teaches psychology at City College in New York, too much homework is taking free time, social opportunities, and playtime away from kids. This means that students will miss out on active fun time that would have otherwise enhanced brain development, motor skills, and physical health. Furthermore, increased homework can directly be tied to the rising number of health problems among children such as headaches, depression, sleep issues, and stomach-related problems.
The Psychology Behind Homework in the American Educational System
Recent research from Richard Walker, an educational psychologist from Sydney University shows that students from the United States score lower on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) than their peers from around the globe. PISA, which is meant to compare the academic abilities from country to country, consistently shows that countries that assign more homework such as the United States score lower than those that have a clearer distinction between school and home.
However, could it be that the homework trend is more reflective about American psychology and not the educational system? For decades, American culture has encouraged more and more work. In fact, even American professionals are found to work more hours (40 or more per week) than other professionals in developed countries. Aside from more working hours, Americans also take fewer vacations and days off of work. Culturally, hard work equals success – but the message we’re sending to our children could come at a cost.