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Opinion essay what makes a school a good school

For most children, mandatory homework assignments push their workweek far beyond the school day and deep into what any other laborers would consider overtime. Even without sports or music or other school-sponsored extracurriculars, the daily homework slog keeps many students on the clock as long as lawyers, teachers, medical residents, truck drivers and other overworked adults.

Is it any wonder that,deprived of the labor protections that we provide adults, our kids are suffering an epidemic of disengagement, anxiety and depression?

When my daughters were in middle school, I would urge them into bed before midnight and then find them clandestinely studying under the covers with a flashlight. We cut back on their activities but still found ourselves stuck in a system on overdrive, returning home from hectic days at 6 p. Now, even as a senior with a moderate course load, my son, Zak, has spent many weekends studying, finding little time for the exercise and fresh air essential to his well-being.

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How much after-school time should our schools really own? The constant demands on my time since 5th grade are just going to continue through graduation, into college, and then into my job. Like Zak, many people are now questioning the point of putting so much demand on children and teens that they become thinly stretched and overworked.

Studies have long shown that there is no academic benefit to high school homework that consumes more than a modest number of hours each week. Our unquestioned acceptance of homework also flies in the face of all we know about human health, brain function and learning. Brain scientists know that rest and exercise are essential to good health and real learning.

  • Short of that, we can at least sensibly agree on a cap limiting kids to a 40-hour workweek — and fewer hours for younger children;
  • We can insist that every family, teacher and student be allowed to opt out of assignments without penalty to make room for important activities, and we can seek changes that shift practice exercises and assignments into the actual school day;
  • Short of that, we can at least sensibly agree on a cap limiting kids to a 40-hour workweek — and fewer hours for younger children.

Even top adult professionals in specialized fields take care to limit their work to concentrated periods of focus. A landmark study of how humans develop expertise found that elite musicians, scientists and athletes do their most productive work only about four hours per day. Yet we continue to overwork our children, depriving them of the chance to cultivate health and learn deeply, burdening them with an imbalance of sedentary, academic tasks.

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American high school studentsin fact, do more homework each week than their peers in the average country in the OECD, a 2014 report found. Already, small rebellions are starting. High schools in Ridgewood, N. Across the Atlantic, students in Spain launched a national strike against excessive assignments in November. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside and get your child to bed early. Why should schools extend their authority far beyond the boundaries of campus, dictating activities in our homes in the hours that belong to families?

An all-out ban on after-school assignments would be optimal. Short of that, we can at least sensibly agree on a cap limiting kids to a 40-hour workweek — and fewer hours for younger children. Resistance even to this reasonable limit will be rife.

What makes a 'good school'?

He had read the education research and found a forgotten policy on the county books limiting homework to two hours a night, total, including all classes. But immediately, people started balking. If we reduce homework to two hours or less, is my kid really going to be okay? He decided to limit assignments in his own class to 20 minutes a night the most allowed for a student with six classes to hit the two-hour max.

Their test scores remained stable. And they started using their more breathable schedule to do more creative, thoughtful work.

Why I Think All Schools Should Abolish Homework

Even as we collaboratively press for policy changes at the district or individual school level, all teachers can act now, as individuals, to ease the strain on overworked kids. As parents and students, we can also organize to make homework the exception rather than the rule.

  • Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside and get your child to bed early;
  • We can insist that every family, teacher and student be allowed to opt out of assignments without penalty to make room for important activities, and we can seek changes that shift practice exercises and assignments into the actual school day;
  • Even without sports or music or other school-sponsored extracurriculars, the daily homework slog keeps many students on the clock as long as lawyers, teachers, medical residents, truck drivers and other overworked adults.

We can insist that every family, teacher and student be allowed to opt out of assignments without penalty to make room for important activities, and we can seek changes that shift practice exercises and assignments into the actual school day. Vicki Abeles is the author of the bestseller Beyond Measure: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.