Is Homework Good or Bad for Students?

It's mostly good, especially for the sciences, but it also can be bad

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Homework isn't fun for students to do or for teachers to grade, so why do it? Here are some reasons why homework is good and why it's bad.

Why Homework Is Good

Here are 10 reasons why homework is good, especially for the sciences, such as chemistry:

  • Doing homework teaches you how to learn on your own and work independently. You'll learn how to use resources such as texts, libraries, and the internet. No matter how well you thought you understood the material in class, there will be times when you'll get stuck doing homework. When you face the challenge, you learn how to get help, how to deal with frustration, and how to persevere.
  • Homework helps you learn beyond the scope of the class. Example problems from teachers and textbooks show you how to do an assignment. The acid test is seeing whether you truly understand the material and can do the work on your own. In science classes, homework problems are critically important. You see concepts in a whole new light, so you'll know how equations work in general, not just how they work for a particular example. In chemistry, physics, and math, homework is truly important and not just busywork.
  • It shows you what the teacher thinks is important to learn, so you'll have a better idea of what to expect on a quiz or test .
  • It's often a significant part of your grade . If you don't do it, it could cost you , no matter how well you do on exams.
  • Homework is a good opportunity to connect parents, classmates, and siblings with your education. The better your support network, the more likely you are to succeed in class.
  • Homework, however tedious it might be, teaches responsibility and accountability. For some classes, homework is an essential part of learning the subject matter.
  • Homework nips procrastination in the bud. One reason teachers give homework and attach a big part of your grade to it is to motivate you to keep up. If you fall behind, you could fail.
  • How will you get all your work done before class? Homework teaches you time management and how to prioritize tasks.
  • Homework reinforces the concepts taught in class. The more you work with them, the more likely you are to learn them. 
  • Homework can help boost self-esteem . Or, if it's not going well, it helps you identify problems before they get out of control.

Sometimes Homework Is Bad

So, homework is good because it can boost your grades , help you learn the material, and prepare you for tests. It's not always beneficial, however. Sometimes homework hurts more than it helps. Here are five ways homework can be bad:

  • You need a break from a subject so you don't burn out or lose interest. Taking a break helps you learn.
  • Too much homework can lead to copying and cheating.
  • Homework that is pointless busywork can lead to a negative impression of a subject (not to mention a teacher).
  • It takes time away from families, friends, jobs, and other ways to spend your time.
  • Homework can hurt your grades. It forces you to make time management decisions, sometimes putting you in a no-win situation. Do you take the time to do the homework or spend it studying concepts or doing work for another subject? If you don't have the time for the homework, you could hurt your grades even if you ace the tests and understand the subject.
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can homework kill you yes or no

Is Homework Illegal? Why Homework is Absolutely Bad for Students

a pile of books next to title about homework

Before we dive into the question”Is homework illegal (or should it be?), if you have students who are struggling or are in need of an additional challenge, gamification is a GREAT way to engage students in learning.  You can grab my 5 step guide to implementing gamification below!

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My personal homework assignment experiences.

I feel that this section might “give up the goat” as to my feelings on homework.

It was 1990, and I was a cute little 5th grader in Mrs. Scholle’s class.  I LOVED Mrs. Scholle and still do to this day.  A student taught where I attended school as a kid and would hang out in her room to chat or help with extra tasks.  While I very much remember Mrs. Scholle fondly, I vividly remember the crushing amount of homework that we were often assigned.  

I was always a student who excelled. I did not struggle with the material itself, but I remember sitting at the dining room table, crying into the night because there was sooo much work to do.  The work was tedious, repetitive, and not teaching me anything new.  I wanted to watch tv, go outside or play Nintendo, but instead, I was inside doing loads of math problems.  The sheer amount of homework is seared into my brain and shaped my views as a teacher.

My Homework Policy as a Teacher

When I had my classroom of third graders, I vowed not to assign any homework if I could help it.  If the school required it, fine, then it would be time-based, not task-based and only checked for completion.  I didn’t want to take work home, neither did they.  Why should I spend time grading work that they either flew through, didn’t understand, or had extensive help from a parent?  No one should be crying at the kitchen table after dinner. 

By that time, research had started to question the benefit of homework, and parents questioned my lack of homework.  My teammate gave out homework daily; why weren’t their children getting the same?  My reply was always the same.  For me, it was more important the kids enjoy the few free hours they had each day.  They did enough school at school.  Some kids were in sports and my gut told me that parents didn’t want to get home from a game only to have an hour of homework staring them in the face.  

To make matters more difficult, my school was 95% free and reduced lunch.  Many students went home to an empty house, or to parents who did not speak English, and therefore couldn’t help them with homework.  How was it even fair to send homework home with them? When asked if there was anything that they could do at home, I simply said “Read.  Read in any language, just read.”  

Are there homework benefits?

student doing homework with homework tip

Does Homework Help or hurt learning?

Whether or not homework is a help or hindrance to learning is a question every teacher and administrator I have ever met struggles with.  What is too much homework for kids? Should there be homework for 2nd graders? What about online homework?  High schoolers should have homework, right?  For kids, the critical questions are, “can homework kill you?” and “is homework illegal anywhere?”. 

Unfortunately for kids, the answer to the last two questions is “no,” but the other questions have been debated for over 100 years, with the pendulum swinging in both directions.   

A short history of homework for you

I could find no definitive answer of when homework was invented.  Various sources credit Pliny the Younger from the Roman Empire, Roberto Nevilis of Italy in 1905, or Horace Mann.  It seems likely that homework, in some form or another, has existed for a long time.  

Today’s concept of homework is said to have been introduced by one of the last two men (right?! I mean, a WOMAN would have known that there is already PLENTY to do at home!).  It was invented as a punishment or a way to show power over students’ time.

Homework was controversial almost as soon as it was introduced.  At the turn of the 20th century, there were already homework bans in place in some states.  However, as fears of the cold war grew and Americans dealt with concerns about falling behind, the amount of homework given to kids increased.  Then, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, anti-homework sentiment grew again, and the amount of homework given to students decreased. THEN, just as I was entering the “workforce,” I mean, school, the country was experiencing an economic downturn.  Who else to blame but teachers?  The Department of Education thought that the amount of homework given to kids should increase.

Since then, time spent on homework has continued to increase, with Kindergarteners getting homework and some high school students reporting having up to three hours of homework each night.

Is Homework Illegal Anywhere?

The argument for why homework is important.

For those in the camp of wanting positive homework answers, you can look to Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology at Duke University.  He has created the seminal study that most people look to decide if homework is beneficial.  Cooper took studies that already existed from the mid-2000s and correlated the number of homework students reported doing to standardized test scores.  He concluded that doing more homework correlated to higher test scores, and this correlation was strongest among older students.

Detractors have pointed out several flaws in his study, such as the research is based on self-reporting of kids, which is not entirely reliable.  I would also like to see a study done directly with students, tracking the actual amount of homework and correlating it to test scores.  A meta-analysis of other studies laid over test scores isn’t very convincing for me. 

Another argument for why homework is good comes from parents.  The first reason parents say they want homework is to make them feel connected with the learning process, and it lets them know what is going on in class and feel helpful and have a home-to-school connection.  Parents also tend to use the amount of homework a teacher gives to judge the rigor of that classroom.  A teacher who provides more homework is perceived to have more a more rigorous classroom.  

In surveys, parents say they expect homework because THEY had homework.  Parents see homework as a rite of passage that every child should have, and homework = school.  

There is also the argument that homework is a great way to teach kids how to be organized.  While I believe that it can teach organization, I think there are other, better ways to support organization.  Have you ever tried to get a nine-year-old ready for baseball?   They need so much equipment, and the natural consequences of missing something are pretty immediate.  Students who take music lessons, art lessons, language classes need to be organized to be successful.

Of all the reading I have done over the years looking for homework answers, this is the extent of the evidence I have seen in homework support.  Now, let’s take a look at the other side.

quote about homework

The argument for why homework is bad

On the other hand, there have been many studies outlining many problems with homework.  

There are a few levels to the element of time.

The first problem with homework is the level of difficulty and how this affects the amount of time a student will spend on the homework.  The general “rule of thumb” that I still hear from teachers today is “10 minutes of homework per grade, per night”.  Following this rule means that 1st graders get ten minutes, second graders get 20 minutes, etc.

My question has always been, “whose ten minutes are we talking?”  Let’s say homework for second graders is supposed to take twenty minutes, and Brynn flies through her given homework in ten minutes and can go out and play.  On the other hand, Wyatt struggles through his homework, misses playtime outside, and his parents are sitting with him after dinner for over an hour, trying to help him.  They believe it is vital that he gets it done before returning to school tomorrow.

The second element is, does the student have time to complete the work at home? A common complaint in a pre-pandemic world was that children are over-scheduled.  There might not be sufficient time to do the homework at home between sports, music lessons, foreign language classes, church obligations, and art lessons. 

Thirdly, some high school students work almost full time to help support their family or are entrusted with watching siblings when they get home.  With these types of obligations, homework will fall to the back burner. 

alarm clock and teacher tip

Lack of Differentiation

Others point out that homework has not changed much.  At its best, homework WOULD ideally be differentiated for each student, giving them something engaging with enough challenge but not too difficult to lead to frustration.  As a classroom teacher, I would have LOVED to do this for my students, but time is so fleeting and precious that spending time to differentiate homework does not feel like time well spent to me.  

Differentiating homework to each student is asking a lot for already overwhelmed teachers.

Level of Parent Help

The amount of parent help that a student will have on homework varies widely between home and family situations.  I have sometimes gotten homework that is done IN the parent’s handwriting, while other students have parents whose first language is not English or whose parents work two jobs and are not around to help them.  This highlights one of the elements of lack of equity in homework.

Another issue with parent help is that sometimes it can be detrimental!  When a parent attempts to help students, sometimes the parent has forgotten or thinks they know how to tackle the homework.  I have personally seen this when dealing with new ways to approach math problems.  The newer, more concrete, and conceptual ways are sometimes confusing for parents.  This is when you see the standard algorithm pop up in homework before it the teacher introduces it in class.  When a parent helps their child in the wrong way with homework, this can lead to homework help discord in the home.

Type of Work Given

Homework has looked the same for many years.  Homework is often based on memorizing facts, repetitive, and focuses on the process, not understanding the concept.  The focus often falls on the quantity of work given, not the quality.  

When students don’t see the value in the work that they are being given, they become resentful of the task.  Again, ideally, homework would be differentiated, urging students to think critically outside of class and sparking a love of learning.  Instead, the type of work homework generally is believed to reduce creativity and independent thought outside of (and sometimes inside) school.  Here is a great article about how we should change our mindset about homework and how we use homework .

One researcher asked a pool of 50,000 students what their most significant source of stress was, and the resounding answer was homework.  More and more studies have emerged detailing the damages that stress does to our brains, and especially the brains of developing children.  If the research does not show a clear benefit, why pile so much pressure onto our learners?

Giving students math homework that is beyond their level, or difficult for them to complete independently can increase levels of math anxiety .  Even high achieving students can suffer from math anxiety, which can lead to a lifelong avoidance of math.

student frustrated at table

What about remote learning and homework online?

The challenges of COVID and remote learning have caused researchers, teachers, and parents to look at homework differently.  The pandemic forced many of us to see (if not to address) the vast levels of access to basic internet service needed to make remote learning even approachable.  Online education is not equitable across the country, therefore doing homework online is just as inequitable. Sometimes teachers may not realize this inequity exists within their classrooms.  

I have worked in upper-middle-class areas where I assumed the students had access to high-speed internet at home.  The school required students to spend a particular amount of time per week on an online math program.  I was surprised to learn that the only source of the internet for some students was a parent’s phone.  

Another problem with online homework during pandemic learning is that the lines between “homework” and “schoolwork” have become blurry.   There is no clear definition for kid’s “homework,” adding more stress into their days.

So, is homework beneficial?

I suppose you are expecting a resounding “NO!” as an answer to this question.  Some research shows that homework can be beneficial to older students, meaning high school-age kids.  They could be given some homework, but not the three hours a night many high schoolers reports.  I can’t entirely agree with giving homework to students younger than high school.

There is one type of homework that is shown to have many benefits- reading for pleasure!  From critical thinking to growing empathy skills, reading for fun every night is one type of homework that is good for kids.

Should we give kids a big homework pass?

I am going to stand by my previous views on homework.  Yes, I think kids should all get a homework pass.  Let them play, engage in sports and yes, relax in front of the television at night with their families.  A healthy work-life balance is essential for the mental and physical health of our children.  The sheer amount of research showing the negative of homework versus the one study pointing at a precarious link between homework and test scores is not enough for me to throw my hat into the homework ring.

can homework kill you yes or no

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can homework kill you yes or no

Can you die from studying?

crow and cross

Studying is not easy, especially if you are doing it for long periods of time regularly. But can studying actually kill you?

It is possible to die from studying too much. For instance, there has been a case where a student at Harvard Law School died from over studying. However, it is statistically extremely unlikely that this may ever happen to you or someone you know. In general, for that to happen, one would have to spend extensive periods studying to the point of exhaustion and without getting any proper sleep or nutrition.

To elaborate further, let’s look more into more detail on how studying might cause death and what can you do it to prevent it from happening to you.

How can studying cause death?

It is important to make it clear that studying in itself as an activity is not dangerous. It is probably as life-threatening as watching TV.

What can make studying fatal is engaging in it in an obsessive and unhealthy way. For example, studying for such a long period of time that you are not getting enough sleep. The same would probably happen when watching TV – if you do it for a long enough time without sleeping – your body would eventually give out. 

So studying it is not the studying in itself that directly causes death – but the exhaustion that results from excessively engaging in a particular activity. In particular, after doing some research I have identified the 5 main risks related to studying that may cause death:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Sitting for too long
  • Depression and mental health issues
  • Lack of proper nutrition

Let’s dig into each of them and learn how they can be harmful and what you could do about them.

1. Lack of sleep

Let’s face it a lot of students sacrifice sleep, especially during exam periods. However, according to Harvard Medical School , sleep deprivation could be fatal. Additionally, lack of sleep could result in heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, and many other conditions.

shadow of woman on bed

So if you sacrifice your sleep to study longer you will definitely put your health at risk. This is most probably one of the main reasons why the student from Harvard Law School that I mentioned earlier died. As much as possible, try to make sure you get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep !

2. Sitting for too long

Another risk factor related to studying is sitting. While this might sound funny at first, sitting could actually be fatal. According to CNN “sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise”.

woman in gray t-shirt and blue denim jeans reading book

Although it is not clear how exactly sedentary behavior impacts our health directly, according to Keith Diaz (scientist at Columbia University) , sitting is related to many health risks. Furthermore, there have been cases , where sitting for a long time created Pulmonary Embolisms, which stopped blood flow and in some cases even resulted in death.

So what does it mean for you? Should you stop sitting to avoid dying? Of course, not – it is almost impossible to avoid sitting during your studies. In fact, during lectures, you are required to sit.

According to Diaz the solution to the issue is quite simple – after 30 minutes of sitting, stand up and move or walk for 5 minutes. That should significantly reduce health risks related to sitting.

Studying can be quite stressful, especially, if you really care about your grades. Although, a little bit of stress is not necessarily bad , stressing out too much could have a significant tool on your health.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health “over time, continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.”

And of course, these issues could result in death as well. In fact, there has been a case where an 18-year-old girl from Pakistan passed away to do exam stress.

man wearing white top using MacBook

So what can you do to keep your stress at healthy levels? Well, first of all do not get too obsessed with grades or over-study. Of course, this is almost the same as me saying “just don’t stress about it” and is not very helpful.

So here are some more actionable suggestions from the National Institute of Mental Health that might help you out:

  • Talk to a health professional
  • Get regular exercise (30 minutes per day)
  • Try a relaxing activity such as meditation or yoga
  • Set goals and priorities, learn to say no to some things
  • Keep in touch with other people for emotional support

4. Depression and mental health issues

We talked about stress, but another common problem that many students face is depression. Of course, stress can cause depression, but depression is such a large topic that it deserves a section of its own.

Although depression cannot kill you directly, according to the World Health Organization it can definitely make your life miserable and increase the risk of suicide. Which is quite relevant for university students as “suicide is the second-leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 24.”

woman in gray sweater seating on chair

There have been cases where due to the study pressure students have killed themselves. For example, due to an extremely demanding and competitive environment, 4 students committed suicide at an Elite South Korean university . And such occurrences are not limited to South Korea, there have been similar cases of that in United Kingdom and other countries.

Of course, there are many causes for depression and studying could be just one of them. However, it is important to not push oneself too much. If you start feeling that you might have some issues with your mental health or are getting depressed you should take action before the situation becomes too dire. Coping with depression is a large topic and I would recommend checking out an article by helpguide for more information on how to do it.

5. Lack of proper nutrition

Sometimes students concentrate on studies so much that they forget to eat or are not eating proper food. I have to admit that I as a student also have committed this sin as well. After all, how can you concentrate on your diet, when you have to so much todo?

woman with messy hair wearing black crew-neck t-shirt holding spoon with cereals on top

However, lack of proper nutrition can result in dire consequences. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention poor nutrition can lead to being overweight, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, deficits in brain function. In fact, your nutrition can even affect how you feel and how you think .

Although lack of proper nutrition will probably not kill you, there have been some cases where due to improper diet students have died.

So, eat properly! Of course, it is easier said than done, but here are some guidelines from UK’s National Health Service that might help you out:

  • eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day (see 5 A Day )
  • base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
  • have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
  • eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
  • choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
  • drink plenty of fluids (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day)

Yes, you can die from studying. But if we are being honest studying cannot cause death directly. Rather its the unhealthy lifestyle (that results from studying to much) that causes death or other health risks.

Overstudying can often result in a lack of sleep, sitting too long, stress, depression, and lack of proper nutrition. All of which can be detrimental to students’ health.

Of course, this does not mean that you should stop studying. Instead you should take actions to make sure that you are studying in a healthy way and are not damaging your health.

Danielius Korsakas

Has a BSc in Economics and currently is pursuing a double master's degree in very fluffy but interesting subjects. Loves learning and building stuff.

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Is Homework Good for Kids? Here's What the Research Says

A s kids return to school, debate is heating up once again over how they should spend their time after they leave the classroom for the day.

The no-homework policy of a second-grade teacher in Texas went viral last week , earning praise from parents across the country who lament the heavy workload often assigned to young students. Brandy Young told parents she would not formally assign any homework this year, asking students instead to eat dinner with their families, play outside and go to bed early.

But the question of how much work children should be doing outside of school remains controversial, and plenty of parents take issue with no-homework policies, worried their kids are losing a potential academic advantage. Here’s what you need to know:

For decades, the homework standard has been a “10-minute rule,” which recommends a daily maximum of 10 minutes of homework per grade level. Second graders, for example, should do about 20 minutes of homework each night. High school seniors should complete about two hours of homework each night. The National PTA and the National Education Association both support that guideline.

But some schools have begun to give their youngest students a break. A Massachusetts elementary school has announced a no-homework pilot program for the coming school year, lengthening the school day by two hours to provide more in-class instruction. “We really want kids to go home at 4 o’clock, tired. We want their brain to be tired,” Kelly Elementary School Principal Jackie Glasheen said in an interview with a local TV station . “We want them to enjoy their families. We want them to go to soccer practice or football practice, and we want them to go to bed. And that’s it.”

A New York City public elementary school implemented a similar policy last year, eliminating traditional homework assignments in favor of family time. The change was quickly met with outrage from some parents, though it earned support from other education leaders.

New solutions and approaches to homework differ by community, and these local debates are complicated by the fact that even education experts disagree about what’s best for kids.

The research

The most comprehensive research on homework to date comes from a 2006 meta-analysis by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper, who found evidence of a positive correlation between homework and student achievement, meaning students who did homework performed better in school. The correlation was stronger for older students—in seventh through 12th grade—than for those in younger grades, for whom there was a weak relationship between homework and performance.

Cooper’s analysis focused on how homework impacts academic achievement—test scores, for example. His report noted that homework is also thought to improve study habits, attitudes toward school, self-discipline, inquisitiveness and independent problem solving skills. On the other hand, some studies he examined showed that homework can cause physical and emotional fatigue, fuel negative attitudes about learning and limit leisure time for children. At the end of his analysis, Cooper recommended further study of such potential effects of homework.

Despite the weak correlation between homework and performance for young children, Cooper argues that a small amount of homework is useful for all students. Second-graders should not be doing two hours of homework each night, he said, but they also shouldn’t be doing no homework.

Not all education experts agree entirely with Cooper’s assessment.

Cathy Vatterott, an education professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, supports the “10-minute rule” as a maximum, but she thinks there is not sufficient proof that homework is helpful for students in elementary school.

“Correlation is not causation,” she said. “Does homework cause achievement, or do high achievers do more homework?”

Vatterott, the author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs , thinks there should be more emphasis on improving the quality of homework tasks, and she supports efforts to eliminate homework for younger kids.

“I have no concerns about students not starting homework until fourth grade or fifth grade,” she said, noting that while the debate over homework will undoubtedly continue, she has noticed a trend toward limiting, if not eliminating, homework in elementary school.

The issue has been debated for decades. A TIME cover in 1999 read: “Too much homework! How it’s hurting our kids, and what parents should do about it.” The accompanying story noted that the launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to a push for better math and science education in the U.S. The ensuing pressure to be competitive on a global scale, plus the increasingly demanding college admissions process, fueled the practice of assigning homework.

“The complaints are cyclical, and we’re in the part of the cycle now where the concern is for too much,” Cooper said. “You can go back to the 1970s, when you’ll find there were concerns that there was too little, when we were concerned about our global competitiveness.”

Cooper acknowledged that some students really are bringing home too much homework, and their parents are right to be concerned.

“A good way to think about homework is the way you think about medications or dietary supplements,” he said. “If you take too little, they’ll have no effect. If you take too much, they can kill you. If you take the right amount, you’ll get better.”

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Studying Can Actually Kill You

can homework kill you yes or no

You may have received harried text messages over the past few days which say something like, "Studying any more today will literally kill me." We would usually take issue with the seemingly poor use of the word " literally " here, but precedent shows that it actually is possible to die from studying too much.

In 1900, Harvard Law School student William T. Parker Jr. went crazy—as in "waving his hands wildly, [he] cried out a number of unintelligible sentences"—during an exam. He was promptly sent to a hospital, where he died several days later of "an abscess on the brain caused by overstudy," according to the New York Times .

To avoid the unfortunate fate of death by studying, keep these simple tips in mind:

1. Remember that this is just school. Yes, your GPA is semi-important for being admitted to that top graduate school or getting recruited by that consulting firm. But that's a very small part of the flourishing, colorful, and joyful life you will lead after school, and if you die from studying you'll miss out on all that anyway.

2. Be with people. Sit with a few friends while you're studying or writing that paper. Everyone has schoolwork to do at this time of the year, so there's no fear of people distracting you. Being around other people makes us feel good, even if there's little conversation. It's science! If you don't have friends, email this Flyby correspondent. We can be friends!

3. Know your food options. It's all well and good to say that you should sleep and eat regularly even during finals, but we all know that sometimes that's just not going to happen. It's a rough world out there when your sleeping schedule is so out of whack that you miss all the dining hall hours. One can only subsist on brain break food for so many nights. Places like Au Bon Pain and Café Pamplona stay open late, and they take Crimson Cash. Market on the Square is also an excellent late-night choice. You can hit up the Quad Grille or the Quincy Grille; they might not stock the healthiest food, but they take Board Plus—and is there anything more life-affirming than warm, melty, comforting mozzarella sticks at 2 a.m.?

4. Use the resources that are available to you. This can vary from demanding study guides from a friend who took that Gen Ed class last year to checking out UHS or the Bureau of Study Counsel. Those offices can help you come up with a doable timeline for your work or can just patiently listen while you whine about how stressed out you are. Don't forget about your Resident Dean, either: if you're actually in a crisis, your Dean can help you get extensions.

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Why Is Homework Bad? How It Damages Students’ Mental Health

Why Is Homework Bad? Homework is considered to be an important part of the learning process. Yes, it can be helpful for students because it helps them to develop critical thinking, self-discipline, and also time management skills which are very important in life. 

Homework plays an important role in their academic life and also prepares them for future challenges. 

But on the other hand, it also has some drawbacks which are not good for students. I don’t say that homework is not good it can be good if students get enough homework. 

But some teachers give students a lot of homework to do which can lead to stress, exhaustion, and a lack of motivation for learning. 

It’s important to know these drawbacks and consider alternative ways of supporting students’ learning that do not rely so heavily on homework. 

So, let’s take a closer look at the reasons why homework is bad.

If you want to get the Best homework help service from experts, then you can contact our expert who will provide you the best & top-notch homework help service within the given deadline.

20 Reasons Why Homework Is Bad

Table of Contents

Here are reasons why too much homework is bad :

  • Less important
  • Consume free time
  • Is less important
  • Teaches nothing 
  • There’s No Time for Life Outside of School
  • Homework Is Busywork
  • Homework Can’t Replace In-Class Education
  • Because Students Can’t or Don’t Ask for Help
  • Because Sometimes Parents Can’t Help
  • Teaching Methods Keep Changing
  • Because Homework Creates Unnecessary Struggles
  • Because It Can Hurt Grades
  • Because It Hurts Students With Problems
  • Learning Should Be Fun
  • Chronic Daily Headaches
  • Lack of Socialization
  • Loss of Creativity
  • Too Difficult
  • Distractions

10 Reasons Why Homework Is Bad?

School is an important part of students’ life. If students can’t go to school every day to gain the skills to be successful in life, this is the drawback for their entire life. It does not mean that they can’t do other think. It is also important that students should take a break from their education. In my opinion, most students get too much homework or assignment from their teachers, with a lot of homework or assignment students get unhealthy levels of stress and other health issues. Here are some reasons why homework is bad for students:


Kill the interest to learn.

  • Affects Relationships With Parents
  • Homework Is Harmful To Health


When teachers give a lot of homework to the students, it gives students a high level of stress. They feel stressed if they can’t complete their homework or assignment on time. This is a major source of anxiety.

When it comes to homework (especially if you want to be an IT specialist), many people work hard and struggle with issues such as a lack of information, poor time management skills, or a poor comprehension of the subject, all of which contribute to worry. It happens even more frequently when students are having trouble with their biochemistry homework or are unsure how to finish their philosophy tasks. This was the first reason why is homework bad.

The solution: parents and teachers should provide support and mentoring to students to help them avoid anxiousness.


Bullying in schools isn’t a new concept. without a doubt, Bullying has long-term harmful psychological consequences on children’s personalities. Although youngsters always find a way to make fun of their friends, there is no doubt that homework is detrimental to students who want to enhance their grades and academic performance. Why? In college or university, students treat nerds horribly, when A+ students refuse to help their students to cheat, it becomes a major source of bullying.

The solution: it’s critical to assign kids unique home responsibilities to avoid cheating and bullying.


This is the third reason Why Is Homework Bad. It has been proven over the last few years that young people spend a significant amount of time at school learning: they attend lectures, study books and materials, work on projects, solve geometry problems, and write essays. Without a doubt, academics take a lot of time, therefore students must prioritise their activities and often sacrifice their personal lives to complete their homework to a high standard. When people are focused on completing difficult activities, they lose motivation over time. Overall, it causes burnout, which makes it difficult for them to succeed.

The solution : assigning interesting and engaging activities that promote creativity is critical.


This is the fourth reason Why Is Homework Bad. According to researchers, home assignments promote sadness, and 39% of college students experience depression on a regular basis. When children are unable to attain their goals, whether it is to improve their grades or obtain positive comments from their teachers, they are unable to meet their development needs or learn other important life skills. All of these issues can have a negative impact on one’s general health and academic performance.

The solution is for parents to understand what motivates them to do homework, and for teachers to learn the art of teaching with SCDL.


Many students feel that if they do not complete their homework, then they may fail to deliver homework on time. Students should not have to take the stress of homework. They should learn educational content in a classroom and they have to explore other things when they are outside at school. 

The solution: ensure that students fully comprehend the work or form student groups on social media to provide support.

Kill The Interest To Learn

This is the sixth reason Why Is Homework Bad. Sometimes homework kills the interest of students. As a result, homework becomes a full-time job, and a child loses interest in learning. Furthermore, a student requires a break from the instructional content in order to avoid becoming burnt out or losing interest in learning.

Affects Relationships With Parents 

Affects Relationships With Parents 

This is the seventh reason Why Is Homework Bad. While teachers do their best to engage students with a variety of activities, it’s difficult to recognize the genuine value in the homework projects that students bring home. It often happens that parents complete homework assignments, and they do not necessarily receive an A because:

  • The educational program has changed, and parents’ awareness has deteriorated.
  • Many parents forget what they learned in school and attempt to do chores from the perspective of an adult.
  • Parents aren’t always the best teachers. They aren’t professionals at explaining the content, therefore doing so at home can be worse than failing the task.
  • Homework is a frequent source of contention. Children don’t want to do it, and parents don’t know how to motivate their children to do it. Joint endeavours eventually come to a halt, resulting in disagreements and conflicts. 
  • As a result, the advantages of home duties as a learning tool are completely gone. Every year, the number of people who believe homework should be abolished rises.

Homework Is Harmful To Health.

Homework Is Harmful To Health

This is the eighth reason Why Is Homework Bad. Every parent talks about how the ever-increasing academic load and stress testing are affecting their children’s health.

Children are sleepless due to their heavy workload, and they stay up late reading textbooks and worrying about their scores, and as a result, they have sleep issues. The relationships between sleep length, homework stress, and sleep hygiene in school-aged children.

We don’t have many healthy schoolchildren. Nearsightedness, gastritis, persistent tiredness, and postural abnormalities are all conditions that the youngster is likely to have.

So why don’t you spit on your homework and grades and do something more enjoyable?

Homework Takes Time Away

Homework Takes Time Away

This is the nineth reason Why Is Homework Bad. Today’s kids are as busy as they’ve ever been. They spend too much time at school, then rush to the tutors, and then turn into the section on their way back. The schedule is very rigid, and every hour is taken into consideration. 

In this study, psychologist Harris Cooper presents research that shows that homework is ineffective: if a child is given too much material, he will not learn it. In elementary school, children require no more than 20 minutes of extra classes, while older students require an hour and a half of homework. 

For comparison, according to our hygienic requirements, an hour and a half is the volume for the second class. Graduates have three and a half hours to spend on lessons. After school, I was gone for over a half-day. And when is it appropriate to live?

Homework Teaches Nothing

Homework Teaches Nothing

This is the tenth reason Why Is Homework Bad. Life is completely detached from school education. Graduates who have spent years studying English are unable to link two words, have no idea which hemisphere they are in, and strongly believe in the power of homoeopathy. Homework follows the same pattern: it boggles kids’ minds with facts they can’t apply.

Consider how you learned in school and compare it to what you would learn in a Swiss school. It would be beneficial if homework helped bridge the gap between school and life. This, however, is not the case.

Why Kids Should Not Have Homework

When it comes to institutions that work with children, the effects of too much homework are even more severe than when it comes to high school students. Trainers should look for innovative ways to engage students and guarantee that they can easily relate to what they’re learning and find every subject enjoyable. The following are the primary reasons why children should not be assigned any homework:

Your Kid Should Read For Pleasure

Kids are always learning, your kid needs ample time outdoors.

If your child is busy with doing homework, he or she will not have time to broaden his or her knowledge base. Rather than assigning a large amount of homework, teachers should encourage students to read good books for enjoyment, practice poetry, paint images of familiar items, and pursue their own interests.

You are incorrect if you believe that a child can only learn through doing homework. Children in the twenty-first century learn in stages. Kids are constantly learning through the use of smartphones, computers at home, and reading platforms such as Kindle. For example, if you want your child to practice using specific terms, let him or her use the smartphone to seek up those words and create sentences about them. So, let’s get clever and let the kids be kids.

While the amount of time a child spends learning is important, so are outside activities. Giving children more time outside, according to education experts, is beneficial because it allows them to experiment with what they have learnt in class.

Take, for example, a scientific topic such as plant parts. Giving your child a lot of homework will result in a lot of homework stress. Instead, the teacher should have the students use their iPhones to identify flora in their complex. What’s more, you know what? “That tree looks like the one I read about yesterday,” the child will say to his or her guardian as they are being driven to school.

How Does Homework Affect Students And Their Social Life?

Outside of class, students have time for social and other activities, which allows them to clear their minds and bodies. on the other hand, Students who have several assignments to complete, have less time for their friends and relatives. Statistics show that too much homework has a detrimental impact on developing relationships and forming better bonds with classmates.

Students miss out on holidays and gatherings, which isolates them and makes them feel unsupported and discouraged. Combining coursework and jobs makes it even more difficult for college or university students to find time for themselves. Stress levels rise as a result of not having enough time to rest and socialize, which has an impact on academic performance and family relationships.

Submit Homework

In this blog, you have learned why is homework bad in detail. I hope you have understood why is homework bad easily. In my opinion, too much homework is bad students should not have so much homework to do. Students should also have time for outside activities because no one is intelligent in their studies. Some students are good at outdoor activities. Now if you need homework help from experts, then contact our experts for help.

Why Is Homework Bad FAQs

What are the negative effects of homework on students.

There are a lot of reasons homework can be affected negatively on students such as leading to stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep deprivation.

Why homework is bad for mental health?

Homework can contribute to students’ stress levels and anxiety which can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

Why Is Homework A Waste Of Time?

Homework is a waste of time. It takes the enjoyment out of school and it takes up teacher time. Students need more free time for other activities such as sports, homework takes it away from spending time with family and friends.

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Homework Won’t Kill You…Will It?

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High school students who spend more time on homework are more mentally engaged at school but suffer from increased academic stress, a lack of day to day balance in their lives, and even physical health issues, according a recent article published in The Journal of Experimental Education .

In most modern upper middle class homes, homework is considered to be helpful. It is a way for students to gain a competitive edge over others and broaden their understanding of some subjects. However, many parents would be shocked to learn that homework, and parental pressure to complete it, is actually causing tremendous stress on their children. In fact, some students report that they are willing to sacrifice their health and integrity to complete an assignment and increase their academic standing. In such a high stress environment, learning is becoming secondary and completing an assignment is seen as necessary to gain proper credentials and be competitive. To assess the effects of homework, the researchers sampled 4,317 students from ten different high performing high schools in upper-middle class communities. In the study, students were asked to answer open-ended and Likert type questions during a 40 minute survey. The Likert type was designed to measure the relationship between homework and well-being and engagement. The open-ended questions were designed to get a feel for the student’s voice and opinion on certain effects of homework. Schools were asked to administer the surveys during time periods between stressful events such as finals to avoid skewing the data. The study shows 56 percent of students find homework to be a primary stressor. Students also say that they often find homework to be tedious and boring and do not believe they are gaining much out of it. Further reports indicate that students are more stressed and less able to sleep due to homework load. This lack of sleep and stress leads to students having a hard time focusing in class and some physical health problems, like an upset stomach. Many may ask, “If homework is so stressful then why do it?” Some answers that were noted are that students only complete these assignments because overall grades usually hinge on homework. Other reasons range from parental pressure to concerns about getting into college. One particularly interesting response about college expectations was, “College admissions expect students do so much, when in reality, the only way to truly be that outstanding is to not sleep and kill yourself with work”. This study suggests that educators need to take a look at the amount of homework that they are giving. It is not to say that homework should be banned but rather too much homework can be counterproductive therefore assignments should be gauged for maximum effectiveness. In the way of research, this study draws attention of researchers back to the fundamental questions of why homework is given and how effective it really is. Although this survey only covered a relatively small percentage of students, its effects are profound. Future research should be directed at covering more ground and possibly repeating this study with less privileged schools. Furthermore, research should be done to test the effects of removing homework loads to some extent from students. Galloway, M., Conner, J., & Denise, P. (2013). Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools. The Journal of Experimental Education, 81 (4), 490-510. doi: 10.1080/00220973.2012.745469   By Chad Sechrest NC State Pre-Service Teacher

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I did my daughter’s homework for a week and it nearly killed me

Homework shouldn’t be this scary.

This post was originally published at the Atlantic on Sept. 18, 2013.

Memorization, not rationalization. That is the advice of my 13-year-old daughter, Esmee, as I struggle to make sense of a paragraph of notes for an upcoming Earth Science test on minerals. “Minerals have crystal systems which are defined by the # of axis and the length of the axis that intersect the crystal faces.” That’s how the notes start, and they only get murkier after that. When I ask Esmee what this actually means, she gives me her homework credo.

Esmee is in the eighth grade at the NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies, a selective public school in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. My wife and I have noticed since she started there in February of last year that she has a lot of homework. We moved from Pacific Palisades, California, where Esmee also had a great deal of homework at Paul Revere Charter Middle School in Brentwood. I have found, at both schools, that whenever I bring up the homework issue with teachers or administrators, their response is that they are required by the state to cover a certain amount of material. There are standardized tests, and everyone—students, teachers, schools—is being evaluated on those tests. I’m not interested in the debates over teaching to the test or No Child Left Behind. What I am interested in is what my daughter is doing during those nightly hours between 8 o’clock and midnight, when she finally gets to bed. During the school week, she averages three to four hours of homework a night and six and a half hours of sleep.

Some evenings, when we force her to go to bed, she will pretend to go to sleep and then get back up and continue to do homework for another hour. The following mornings are awful, my daughter teary-eyed and exhausted but still trudging to school.

I wonder: What is the exact nature of the work that is turning her into a sleep-deprived teen zombie so many mornings?

I decide to do my daughter’s homework for one typical week.

By late afternoon, I am tired after filing a magazine article on deadline. I’m not looking forward to homework. When I arrive home, a few minutes ahead of Esmee, I consider delaying my week of homework, but then I realize that Esmee can never put off her week of homework.

So I am relieved when she tells me she doesn’t have much tonight. We have 11 algebra equations. (Esmee’s algebra class is doing a section on polynomials, a word I haven’t heard in decades.) We also have to read 79 pages of  Angela’s Ashes  and find “three important and powerful quotes from the section with 1–2 sentence analyses of its [ sic ] significance.” There is also the Earth Science test tomorrow on minerals.

I am surprised by the amount of reading. Reading and writing is what I do for a living, but in my middle age, I’ve slowed down. So a good day of reading for me, assuming I like the book and I’m not looking for quotable passages, is between 50 and 100 pages. Seventy-nine pages while scanning for usable material—for a magazine essay or for homework—seems like at least two hours of reading.

But the math is easier than I thought. We are simplifying equations, which involves reducing (–18m 2 n) 2  × (–(1/6)mn 2 ) to –54m 5 n 4 , which I get the hang of again after Esmee’s good instructions. I breeze through those 11 equations in about 40 minutes and even correct Esmee when she gets one wrong. (I think. I may be overconfident.)

I then start reading  Angela’s Ashes  while Esmee studies for Earth Science. We have only one copy of the book, so we decide it will be more efficient to stagger our work. I’ve never read  Angela’s Ashes , and it’s easy to see the appeal. Frank McCourt, whom I once saw give a beautiful tribute to Peter Matthiessen at a Paris Review   Revel, is engaging and funny. But after 30 minutes I am only about 16 pages in, and Esmee has finished studying for Earth Science and needs the book.

So we switch. It is now time for me to struggle with Earth Science. The textbook Esmee’s class is using is simply called  Earth Science  and was written by Edward J. Tarbuck and Frederick K. Lutgens. “The term  synergistic  applies to the combined efforts of Tarbuck and Lutgens,” says the biographical note at the beginning. “Early in their careers, they shared frustrations with the limited availability of textbooks designed for non-majors.” So they rolled up their sleeves and wrote their own textbook, which reads exactly like every other textbook. “If you look again at Table 1,” begins the section on silicates, “you can see that the two most abundant elements in Earth’s crust are silicon and oxygen.” I spend the next five minutes looking for Table 1, which is 12 pages earlier in the book.

Then come carbonates, oxides, the sulfates and sulfides, halides, and—I am asleep after about 20 minutes.

When I wake up, I go out to find Esmee in the living room, where she is buried in  Angela’s Ashes.  I struggle with Earth Science for another half hour, attempting to memorize rather than understand, before I give up and decide I have to get my reading done. Since Esmee is using our copy of  Angela’s Ashes , I figure I will just read another 63 pages of the novel  Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore , which I started yesterday. I don’t make it. I’m asleep for good after about 15 pages.

Esmee stays up until a little after midnight to finish her reading.

Total time: 3–5 hours

I don’t remember how much homework was assigned to me in eighth grade. I do know that I didn’t do very much of it and that what little I did, I did badly. My study habits were atrocious. After school I often went to friends’ houses, where I sometimes smoked marijuana, and then I returned home for dinner; after lying to my parents about not having homework that night, I might have caught an hour or two of television. In Southern California in the late ’70s, it was totally plausible that an eighth grader would have no homework at all.

If my daughter came home and said she had no homework, I would know she was lying. It is inconceivable that her teachers wouldn’t assign any.

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?

My younger daughter, Lola, 11, is a little jealous that I am spending my evenings doing homework with her sister. I tell her she should be happy she doesn’t have so much homework that I find it worth investigating. She agrees with this, but still makes me feel so guilty about it that I let her watch  Pretty Little Liars , her favorite show.

The co-op board meets—and over my objections makes me secretary—before I can start on Esmee’s homework.

Tonight we have 12 more algebra equations, 45 more pages of  Angela’s Ashes , and a Humanities project for which we have to write one to two pages in the style of  The   Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian , the young-adult novel by Sherman Alexie. There is also a Spanish test tomorrow on irregular verbs.

The algebra is fast becoming my favorite part of this project. I may have picked an easy week, but something about combining like terms, inverting negative exponents, and then simplifying equations causes a tingle in a part of my brain that is usually dormant. Also, the work is finite: just 12 equations.

The Spanish, however, presents a completely different challenge. Here, Esmee shows me that we have to memorize the conjugations of the future tense of regular and irregular verbs, and she slides me a sheet with  tener ,  tendré , tendrás ,  tendrá ,  tendremos , etc., multiplied by dozens of verbs. My daughter has done a commendable job memorizing the conjugations. But when I ask her what the verb  tener  means (“to have,” if I recall), she repeats, “Memorization, not rationalization.”

She doesn’t know what the words mean.

I spend a few minutes looking over the material, attempting to memorize the list of verbs and conjugations. Then it takes me about half an hour to memorize the three most common conjugation patterns. I decide to skip the irregular verbs.

Esmee already worked on her Spanish this afternoon, so she goes right to the Humanities project, which she has been looking forward to. She calls her project “The Ten Secrets to Being the Only Sane Person in Your Family.”

No. 6: Don’t Listen to Anything Your Father Says.

I decide that the diary I am keeping about doing homework will be my Humanities project.

Soon it’s 11pm, and I start bugging Esmee to go to bed. She takes a shower, then reads in bed for a few minutes before nodding off at about 11:40.

I sneak in and grab her copy of  Angela’s Ashes  and catch up on my reading, getting all the way to page 120. The hardship of too much homework pales in comparison with the McCourt family’s travails. Still, because we are sharing our copy of  Angela’s Ashes , I end up going to bed an hour after Esmee.

Total time: 3 hours

One evening when Esmee was in sixth grade, I walked into her room at 1:30am to find her red-eyed, exhausted, and starting on her third hour of math. This was partially her fault, as she had let a couple of days’ worth of worksheets pile up, but it was also the nature of the work itself. One assignment had her calculating the area and perimeter of a series of shapes so complex that my wife, who trained as an architect in the Netherlands, spent half an hour on it before coming up with the right answers. The problem was not the complexity of the work, it was the amount of calculating required. The measurements included numbers like 78 13/64, and all this multiplying and dividing was to be done without a calculator. Another exercise required Esmee to find the distance from Sacramento—we were living in California—to every other state capital in America, in miles and kilometers. This last one caused me to question the value of the homework.

What possible purpose could this serve?, I asked her teacher in a meeting.

She explained that this sort of cross-disciplinary learning—state capitals in a math class—was now popular. She added that by now, Esmee should know all her state capitals. She went on to say that in class, when the students had been asked to name the capital of Texas, Esmee answered Texas City.

But this is a math class, I said. I don’t even know the state capitals.

The teacher was unmoved, saying that she felt the homework load was reasonable. If Esmee was struggling with the work, then perhaps she should be moved to a remedial class.

That night, in an e-mail chain started by the class parent to seek chaperones for a field trip, I removed the teacher’s name, changed the subject line, and then asked the other parents in the class whether their children found the homework load onerous.

After a few minutes, replies started coming in from parents along the lines of “Thank God, we thought we were the only ones,” “Our son has been up until 2am crying,” and so forth. Half the class’s parents responded that they thought too much homework was an issue.

Since then, 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.

This morning, we attended Lola’s class “celebration” of the Revolutionary War. The class had prepared dioramas of the role women played in the Revolution, the Boston Massacre, the Battle of Yorktown, and other signal events of the period. In hand-drawn murals explaining the causes of the conflict, the main theme was that excessive and unfair taxation had caused the colonies to rebel. The British had run up massive debts in the French and Indian War and wanted the colonists to repay them. The colonies also wanted, several children added, freedom. When pressed as to what that meant, they seemed unsure, until one boy came up with “Freedom to do what they want!”

I came home and took a nap.

My older daughter’s homework load this evening is just seven algebra equations, studying for a Humanities test on industrialization, and more Earth Science.

This algebra unit, on polynomials, seems to be a matter of remembering a few tricks. Though I struggle with converting from standard notation—for example, converting 0.00009621 to scientific notation is tricky (it’s 9.621 × 10 −5 , which makes no intuitive sense to me)—it is pleasing that at some point I arrive at an answer, right or wrong, and my work is done and the teacher will give me credit for doing my homework.

Earth Science is something else. I’ve been dreading returning to Tarbuck and Lutgens since our first meeting. And tonight, the chapter starts in the familiar dispiriting monotone. “Rocks are any solid mass of mineral or mineral-like matter occurring naturally as part of our planet.” But I am pleasantly surprised when T&L take a turn into the rock cycle, laying out the differences between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rock in terms that are easy to understand and visualize. The accompanying charts are helpful, and as I keep reading into the chapter on igneous rocks, the differences between intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks make clear sense.

The upcoming test in Humanities will focus on John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, monopolies and trusts, laissez-faire capitalism, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the foundation of labor unions, the imposition of factory safety standards, and the populist response to the grim conditions of the working man during the Industrial Revolution. My daughter has a study guide she is ready to print out. But our printer has just broken.

We end up borrowing our neighbor’s printer. The logistics of picking up the printer, bringing it over to our apartment, downloading the software, and then printing take about half an hour.

The study guide covers a wide range of topics, from how Rockefeller gained control of the oil industry, to the rise of monopolies and trusts, to the Sherman Antitrust Act, to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Esmee and I have a pretty long talk about the causes of the tragedy—the locked doors that prevented the young girls from taking breaks, stealing merchandise, or escaping the flames; the flammable waste material that had been allowed to accumulate—that leads to a discussion about trade unionism and then about capitalism in general. This is, I realize, a logical continuation of the conversation in my younger daughter’s class this morning, which started with unwieldy dioramas and implausible impersonations of King George. Freedom, in the form of unfettered capitalism, also has its downside. I tell her my view: laborers have to organize into unions, because otherwise those who control the capital have all the power.

“That’s why it’s called capitalism,” Esmee says, “not laborism.”

She falls asleep reading  Angela’s Ashes .

My daughter has the misfortune of living through a period of peak homework.

It turns out that there is no correlation between homework and achievement. According to a 2005 study by the Penn State professors Gerald K. LeTendre and David P. Baker, some of the countries that score higher than the US on testing in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study—Japan and Denmark, for example—give less homework, while some of those scoring lower, including Thailand and Greece, assign more. Why pile on the homework if it doesn’t make even a testable difference, and in fact may be harmful?

“It’s a response to this whole globalized, competitive process,” says Richard Walker, a co-author of the book  Reforming Homework . “You get parents demanding their children get more homework because their children are competing against the whole world.”

The irony is that some countries where the school systems are held up as models for our schools have been going in the opposite direction of the US, giving less homework and implementing narrower curricula built to encourage deeper understanding rather than broader coverage.

In the US, or at least in the schools my daughters have attended, there has been no sign of teachers’ letting up on homework. According to a University of Michigan study, the average time spent weekly on homework increased from two hours and 38 minutes in 1981 to three hours and 58 minutes in 2004. Data from a 2007 National Center for Education Statistics survey showed American students between grades nine and 12 doing an average of 6.8 hours of homework a week—which sounds pretty reasonable compared with what my daughter is assigned—and 42% of students saying they have homework five or more days a week. Esmee has hours of homework every night. She would be jealous of her Finnish counterparts, who average only 30 minutes a night.

Attitudes toward homework swing in cycles of roughly 30 years, according to Harris Cooper, a professor of education at Duke University and the author of  The   Battle Over Homework . We went from piling on the homework because of fears of a science gap brought on by Sputnik in the late 1950s, to backing off in the Woodstock generation of the ’70s amid worries about overstressing kids, to the ’90s fears of falling behind East Asian students. The current backlash against homework has been under way so long—expressed in books like 2006’s  The Case Against Homework , by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish, and in the 2009 documentary film  Race to Nowhere —that we may now be living through a backlash against the backlash, at least in elite schools. “We’re in a heavy-homework part of the cycle,” Cooper says. “The increasing competition for elite high schools and colleges has parents demanding more homework.”

Back in California, when I raised the issue of too much homework on that e‑mail chain, about half the parents were pleased that someone had brought this up, and many had already spoken to the math teacher about it. Others were eager to approach school officials. But at least one parent didn’t agree, and forwarded the whole exchange to the teacher in question.

As the person who instigated the conversation, I was called in to the vice principal’s office and accused of cyberbullying. I suggested that parents’ meeting to discuss their children’s education was generally a positive thing; we merely chose to have our meeting in cyberspace instead of the school cafeteria.

He disagreed, saying the teacher felt threatened. And he added that students weren’t allowed to cyberbully, so parents should be held to the same standard.

I explained that we never intended for the teacher to read those notes. This was a forum where we were airing our concerns.

What was frustrating me was that the underlying issue of ridiculous amounts of busywork was getting buried beneath the supposed method we had used to discuss the issue.

Even when I showed the vice principal examples of the homework assignments, he didn’t see them as outside the usual in terms of content or time commitment.

I left believing I hadn’t solved the problem.

Yet something did change. Over the next few months, the math teacher assigned a more manageable workload. My daughter now went to bed before 10 o’clock most nights.

Parent-teacher conferences at the Lab School are similar to what I imagine speed dating to be like. Each conference is three minutes, and parents can attend an afternoon or evening session. My wife and I choose the afternoon. The conferences are strictly first come, first served. At noon, my wife and I sit in chairs outside each classroom waiting our turn, sometimes for as long as 45 minutes. A student is supposed to be timing each conference, but the students often wander off, and the teachers ignore the parents’ knocking after three minutes.

In each conference, I urge the teachers to give less homework. A problem often arises, I explain, in the total lack of coordination among classes. A Humanities assignment requiring the kids to render in words, pictures, or both a scene from  Angela’s Ashes , say, can take an hour or two, yet most teachers don’t seem to consider anything creative to be homework. The creative stuff, like drawing or writing a short story or preparing a scene from a play, is all extra, to be completed in addition to the hours of humanities, math, science, and Spanish.

The teachers usually respond in one of two ways. They nod sympathetically and agree that the kids do have a lot of work, as if they have nothing to do with the assigning of it. Or they say that time management is one of the skills that a successful high-school student will need, and if my daughter wants to perform in an elite high school, she had better learn that in middle school. Both answers amount to essentially the same argument: the vast amounts of homework are somehow handed down from on high, and mere teachers can do nothing to tamper with the ordained quantities.

Because I happen to be in the middle of my week of homework when this year’s parent-teacher conferences take place, I am uniquely equipped to discuss the work Esmee is doing. And over the years, I have noticed that the amount of homework does let up, slightly, after the conferences—if enough parents complain. However, there is always a clique of parents who are happy with the amount of homework. In fact, they would prefer  more . I tend not to get along with that type of parent.

At a meeting with Esmee’s Earth Science teacher, I find out that my daughter has in fact not been giving me all the work. There is a worksheet, for example, requiring a reinterpretation and annotation of the rock cycle that Esmee never handed over. The teacher finds an extra copy for me. So I have another date with Tarbuck and Lutgens.

When I get home, Esmee tells me she got a C on her math homework from the night before because she hadn’t made an answer column. Her correct answers were there, at the end of each neatly written-out equation, yet they weren’t segregated into a separate column on the right side of each page. I’m amazed that the pettiness of this doesn’t seem to bother her. School is training her well for the inanities of adult life.

Our math homework this evening is practicing multiplying a polynomial by a monomial, and we breeze through it in about half an hour.

Then we have to translate some song lyrics from Spanish to English. Esmee’s Spanish teacher already told my wife and me in our conference this afternoon that she can tell when the kids use Google Translate—which is all the time. It’s a wonder: simply type in the lyrics, copy down the translation, and then, in an attempt to throw off the teacher, add a few mistakes. So  Si te quedas a mi lado, si te subes en el tren , which Google renders as “If you stay by my side, if you get on the train,” becomes “If you stay by my side, if you go up on the train.”

And, at last, more  Angela’s Ashes .

Total time: 1.5 hours

The more immersed I become in Esmee’s homework, the more reassured I am that the teachers, principals, and school-board members who are coming up with this curriculum are earnest about their work. They are making difficult decisions about what to teach or not teach in the limited class time they have. The overall education being imparted is secular, humanistic, multicultural, and intensely quantitative. The math Esmee is doing at 13, for example, is beyond what I was doing at that age. Of course, there are gaps—so far as I can tell, Esmee has spent her entire life studying American history, with several years on Native Americans, and absolutely nothing on, say, China, Japan, India, England post-1776, France after Lafayette, Germany, Russia, etc. Like many parents, I wish there was more emphasis on creative work, on writing assignments that didn’t require Esmee to use eight “transition words” and seven metaphors. This school has clearly made choices—these kids are going to get very good at algebra and maybe a little less good at creative writing. I can’t say I fault them in this, though I know what I would prefer to spend my days doing.

If Esmee masters the material covered in her classes, she will emerge as a well-rounded, socially aware citizen, a serious reader with good reasoning capabilities and a decent knowledge of the universe she lives in. What more can I ask of her school?

But are these many hours of homework the only way to achieve this metamorphosis of child into virtuous citizen? According to my daughter’s teachers, principals, and administrators, the answer is an emphatic yes. Certainly, they have told me, all the homework does no harm. As I watch my daughter struggle through school days on too little sleep and feel almost guilty if she wants to watch an hour of television instead of advancing a few yards in the trench warfare of her weekly homework routine, I have my doubts. When would she ever have time to, say, read a book for pleasure? Or write a story or paint a picture or play the guitar?

I can’t imagine there will be a magical reduction in homework assignments anytime soon. But what I will continue to do at every opportunity is remind teachers that if each is assigning an hour of homework a night, and the average kid is taking four or five academic classes, then that is simply an unrealistic cumulative workload. Give the kids a break. Once in a while. I don’t expect teachers to drastically curtail their assignments, just to occasionally lighten the load. Of course, I may just be balancing the scales against those parents asking for extra assignments for their child.

Has this worked? Well, it did in Brentwood, even if it took parental pressure. And though I can’t draw a causal line between my day of speed dating—I mean, going to parent-teacher conferences—at the Lab School and a reduction in homework assignments, it did seem to me that in the months afterward, Esmee was able to get more sleep. At least a couple of minutes’ worth.

Esmee just started high school. She has told me she feels that the many hours of homework in middle school have prepared her well. “There is no way they can give me more homework,” she reasons.

I have my doubts.

As for Lola: When it came time to select a middle school, she took the admissions test for Lab and listed it as her first choice, despite my telling her that in my view, the school is too rigidly focused on academics and assigns too much homework. Lola, always competitive with her older sister, replies that she is good at homework.

She’s going to need to be. She was accepted at Lab.

Lola is sleeping over at a friend’s house. Esmee hasn’t started her weekend homework yet. Instead, she’s watching episodes of  Portlandia  on her computer. The weekend homework includes another 15 algebra equations, studying for a Spanish test on Monday, and, of course, more  Angela’s Ashes . She also has an algebra midterm on Tuesday. I tell Esmee that this seems strange—didn’t she just have an algebra midterm? She says that in her class, they have more than one midterm every term.

My wife and I decide to go out to dinner, and on our way up Hudson Street, we run into another couple we are close friends with. This couple’s oldest daughter also goes to Lab. She’s at home doing homework.

We stand on the sidewalk for a few minutes, chatting. The husband is smoking a joint, and he hands it over. I haven’t smoked in a few months, but it’s Friday night and I’ve been doing homework all week. I take a few tokes. We part ways, and my wife and I go to a Japanese restaurant, where, as soon as I am seated, I regret smoking. It’s going to be hell trying to do algebra tonight with the head I have on right now.

Nonetheless, when I’m home, I sit at the dining table and attempt to work my way through the polynomial worksheet. I am immediately lost in all the 2x(–3y5+ 3×2)6s. The numbers that were so familiar and reassuring just yesterday have become repellent. I realize, sitting there, failing to solve my algebra homework, that I have inadvertently yet perfectly re-created my own eighth-grade homework conditions: getting stoned, attempting math, and failing at it.

I consider my daughter, who to my knowledge has never smoked marijuana. That’s a good thing, I think in my hazy state. I wouldn’t wish this condition—attempting algebra when high—on anyone.

One of the reasons I believe my daughter hasn’t yet tried marijuana is because she simply doesn’t have the time.

I decide to give up on algebra for the night. It’s only Friday, and I have until Monday to finish my homework.

This post originally appeared at The Atlantic . More from our sister site: 

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Nobody knows what the point of homework is

The homework wars are back.

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As the Covid-19 pandemic began and students logged into their remote classrooms, all work, in effect, became homework. But whether or not students could complete it at home varied. For some, schoolwork became public-library work or McDonald’s-parking-lot work.

Luis Torres, the principal of PS 55, a predominantly low-income community elementary school in the south Bronx, told me that his school secured Chromebooks for students early in the pandemic only to learn that some lived in shelters that blocked wifi for security reasons. Others, who lived in housing projects with poor internet reception, did their schoolwork in laundromats.

According to a 2021 Pew survey , 25 percent of lower-income parents said their children, at some point, were unable to complete their schoolwork because they couldn’t access a computer at home; that number for upper-income parents was 2 percent.

The issues with remote learning in March 2020 were new. But they highlighted a divide that had been there all along in another form: homework. And even long after schools have resumed in-person classes, the pandemic’s effects on homework have lingered.

Over the past three years, in response to concerns about equity, schools across the country, including in Sacramento, Los Angeles , San Diego , and Clark County, Nevada , made permanent changes to their homework policies that restricted how much homework could be given and how it could be graded after in-person learning resumed.

Three years into the pandemic, as districts and teachers reckon with Covid-era overhauls of teaching and learning, schools are still reconsidering the purpose and place of homework. Whether relaxing homework expectations helps level the playing field between students or harms them by decreasing rigor is a divisive issue without conclusive evidence on either side, echoing other debates in education like the elimination of standardized test scores from some colleges’ admissions processes.

I first began to wonder if the homework abolition movement made sense after speaking with teachers in some Massachusetts public schools, who argued that rather than help disadvantaged kids, stringent homework restrictions communicated an attitude of low expectations. One, an English teacher, said she felt the school had “just given up” on trying to get the students to do work; another argued that restrictions that prohibit teachers from assigning take-home work that doesn’t begin in class made it difficult to get through the foreign-language curriculum. Teachers in other districts have raised formal concerns about homework abolition’s ability to close gaps among students rather than widening them.

Many education experts share this view. Harris Cooper, a professor emeritus of psychology at Duke who has studied homework efficacy, likened homework abolition to “playing to the lowest common denominator.”

But as I learned after talking to a variety of stakeholders — from homework researchers to policymakers to parents of schoolchildren — whether to abolish homework probably isn’t the right question. More important is what kind of work students are sent home with and where they can complete it. Chances are, if schools think more deeply about giving constructive work, time spent on homework will come down regardless.

There’s no consensus on whether homework works

The rise of the no-homework movement during the Covid-19 pandemic tapped into long-running disagreements over homework’s impact on students. The purpose and effectiveness of homework have been disputed for well over a century. In 1901, for instance, California banned homework for students up to age 15, and limited it for older students, over concerns that it endangered children’s mental and physical health. The newest iteration of the anti-homework argument contends that the current practice punishes students who lack support and rewards those with more resources, reinforcing the “myth of meritocracy.”

But there is still no research consensus on homework’s effectiveness; no one can seem to agree on what the right metrics are. Much of the debate relies on anecdotes, intuition, or speculation.

Researchers disagree even on how much research exists on the value of homework. Kathleen Budge, the co-author of Turning High-Poverty Schools Into High-Performing Schools and a professor at Boise State, told me that homework “has been greatly researched.” Denise Pope, a Stanford lecturer and leader of the education nonprofit Challenge Success, said, “It’s not a highly researched area because of some of the methodological problems.”

Experts who are more sympathetic to take-home assignments generally support the “10-minute rule,” a framework that estimates the ideal amount of homework on any given night by multiplying the student’s grade by 10 minutes. (A ninth grader, for example, would have about 90 minutes of work a night.) Homework proponents argue that while it is difficult to design randomized control studies to test homework’s effectiveness, the vast majority of existing studies show a strong positive correlation between homework and high academic achievement for middle and high school students. Prominent critics of homework argue that these correlational studies are unreliable and point to studies that suggest a neutral or negative effect on student performance. Both agree there is little to no evidence for homework’s effectiveness at an elementary school level, though proponents often argue that it builds constructive habits for the future.

For anyone who remembers homework assignments from both good and bad teachers, this fundamental disagreement might not be surprising. Some homework is pointless and frustrating to complete. Every week during my senior year of high school, I had to analyze a poem for English and decorate it with images found on Google; my most distinct memory from that class is receiving a demoralizing 25-point deduction because I failed to present my analysis on a poster board. Other assignments really do help students learn: After making an adapted version of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book for a ninth grade history project, I was inspired to check out from the library and read a biography of the Chinese ruler.

For homework opponents, the first example is more likely to resonate. “We’re all familiar with the negative effects of homework: stress, exhaustion, family conflict, less time for other activities, diminished interest in learning,” Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth, which challenges common justifications for homework, told me in an email. “And these effects may be most pronounced among low-income students.” Kohn believes that schools should make permanent any moratoria implemented during the pandemic, arguing that there are no positives at all to outweigh homework’s downsides. Recent studies , he argues , show the benefits may not even materialize during high school.

In the Marlborough Public Schools, a suburban district 45 minutes west of Boston, school policy committee chair Katherine Hennessy described getting kids to complete their homework during remote education as “a challenge, to say the least.” Teachers found that students who spent all day on their computers didn’t want to spend more time online when the day was over. So, for a few months, the school relaxed the usual practice and teachers slashed the quantity of nightly homework.

Online learning made the preexisting divides between students more apparent, she said. Many students, even during normal circumstances, lacked resources to keep them on track and focused on completing take-home assignments. Though Marlborough Schools is more affluent than PS 55, Hennessy said many students had parents whose work schedules left them unable to provide homework help in the evenings. The experience tracked with a common divide in the country between children of different socioeconomic backgrounds.

So in October 2021, months after the homework reduction began, the Marlborough committee made a change to the district’s policy. While teachers could still give homework, the assignments had to begin as classwork. And though teachers could acknowledge homework completion in a student’s participation grade, they couldn’t count homework as its own grading category. “Rigorous learning in the classroom does not mean that that classwork must be assigned every night,” the policy stated . “Extensions of class work is not to be used to teach new content or as a form of punishment.”

Canceling homework might not do anything for the achievement gap

The critiques of homework are valid as far as they go, but at a certain point, arguments against homework can defy the commonsense idea that to retain what they’re learning, students need to practice it.

“Doesn’t a kid become a better reader if he reads more? Doesn’t a kid learn his math facts better if he practices them?” said Cathy Vatterott, an education researcher and professor emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. After decades of research, she said it’s still hard to isolate the value of homework, but that doesn’t mean it should be abandoned.

Blanket vilification of homework can also conflate the unique challenges facing disadvantaged students as compared to affluent ones, which could have different solutions. “The kids in the low-income schools are being hurt because they’re being graded, unfairly, on time they just don’t have to do this stuff,” Pope told me. “And they’re still being held accountable for turning in assignments, whether they’re meaningful or not.” On the other side, “Palo Alto kids” — students in Silicon Valley’s stereotypically pressure-cooker public schools — “are just bombarded and overloaded and trying to stay above water.”

Merely getting rid of homework doesn’t solve either problem. The United States already has the second-highest disparity among OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations between time spent on homework by students of high and low socioeconomic status — a difference of more than three hours, said Janine Bempechat, clinical professor at Boston University and author of No More Mindless Homework .

When she interviewed teachers in Boston-area schools that had cut homework before the pandemic, Bempechat told me, “What they saw immediately was parents who could afford it immediately enrolled their children in the Russian School of Mathematics,” a math-enrichment program whose tuition ranges from $140 to about $400 a month. Getting rid of homework “does nothing for equity; it increases the opportunity gap between wealthier and less wealthy families,” she said. “That solution troubles me because it’s no solution at all.”

A group of teachers at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, made the same point after the school district proposed an overhaul of its homework policies, including removing penalties for missing homework deadlines, allowing unlimited retakes, and prohibiting grading of homework.

“Given the emphasis on equity in today’s education systems,” they wrote in a letter to the school board, “we believe that some of the proposed changes will actually have a detrimental impact towards achieving this goal. Families that have means could still provide challenging and engaging academic experiences for their children and will continue to do so, especially if their children are not experiencing expected rigor in the classroom.” At a school where more than a third of students are low-income, the teachers argued, the policies would prompt students “to expect the least of themselves in terms of effort, results, and responsibility.”

Not all homework is created equal

Despite their opposing sides in the homework wars, most of the researchers I spoke to made a lot of the same points. Both Bempechat and Pope were quick to bring up how parents and schools confuse rigor with workload, treating the volume of assignments as a proxy for quality of learning. Bempechat, who is known for defending homework, has written extensively about how plenty of it lacks clear purpose, requires the purchasing of unnecessary supplies, and takes longer than it needs to. Likewise, when Pope instructs graduate-level classes on curriculum, she asks her students to think about the larger purpose they’re trying to achieve with homework: If they can get the job done in the classroom, there’s no point in sending home more work.

At its best, pandemic-era teaching facilitated that last approach. Honolulu-based teacher Christina Torres Cawdery told me that, early in the pandemic, she often had a cohort of kids in her classroom for four hours straight, as her school tried to avoid too much commingling. She couldn’t lecture for four hours, so she gave the students plenty of time to complete independent and project-based work. At the end of most school days, she didn’t feel the need to send them home with more to do.

A similar limited-homework philosophy worked at a public middle school in Chelsea, Massachusetts. A couple of teachers there turned as much class as possible into an opportunity for small-group practice, allowing kids to work on problems that traditionally would be assigned for homework, Jessica Flick, a math coach who leads department meetings at the school, told me. It was inspired by a philosophy pioneered by Simon Fraser University professor Peter Liljedahl, whose influential book Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics reframes homework as “check-your-understanding questions” rather than as compulsory work. Last year, Flick found that the two eighth grade classes whose teachers adopted this strategy performed the best on state tests, and this year, she has encouraged other teachers to implement it.

Teachers know that plenty of homework is tedious and unproductive. Jeannemarie Dawson De Quiroz, who has taught for more than 20 years in low-income Boston and Los Angeles pilot and charter schools, says that in her first years on the job she frequently assigned “drill and kill” tasks and questions that she now feels unfairly stumped students. She said designing good homework wasn’t part of her teaching programs, nor was it meaningfully discussed in professional development. With more experience, she turned as much class time as she could into practice time and limited what she sent home.

“The thing about homework that’s sticky is that not all homework is created equal,” says Jill Harrison Berg, a former teacher and the author of Uprooting Instructional Inequity . “Some homework is a genuine waste of time and requires lots of resources for no good reason. And other homework is really useful.”

Cutting homework has to be part of a larger strategy

The takeaways are clear: Schools can make cuts to homework, but those cuts should be part of a strategy to improve the quality of education for all students. If the point of homework was to provide more practice, districts should think about how students can make it up during class — or offer time during or after school for students to seek help from teachers. If it was to move the curriculum along, it’s worth considering whether strategies like Liljedahl’s can get more done in less time.

Some of the best thinking around effective assignments comes from those most critical of the current practice. Denise Pope proposes that, before assigning homework, teachers should consider whether students understand the purpose of the work and whether they can do it without help. If teachers think it’s something that can’t be done in class, they should be mindful of how much time it should take and the feedback they should provide. It’s questions like these that De Quiroz considered before reducing the volume of work she sent home.

More than a year after the new homework policy began in Marlborough, Hennessy still hears from parents who incorrectly “think homework isn’t happening” despite repeated assurances that kids still can receive work. She thinks part of the reason is that education has changed over the years. “I think what we’re trying to do is establish that homework may be an element of educating students,” she told me. “But it may not be what parents think of as what they grew up with. ... It’s going to need to adapt, per the teaching and the curriculum, and how it’s being delivered in each classroom.”

For the policy to work, faculty, parents, and students will all have to buy into a shared vision of what school ought to look like. The district is working on it — in November, it hosted and uploaded to YouTube a round-table discussion on homework between district administrators — but considering the sustained confusion, the path ahead seems difficult.

When I asked Luis Torres about whether he thought homework serves a useful part in PS 55’s curriculum, he said yes, of course it was — despite the effort and money it takes to keep the school open after hours to help them do it. “The children need the opportunity to practice,” he said. “If you don’t give them opportunities to practice what they learn, they’re going to forget.” But Torres doesn’t care if the work is done at home. The school stays open until around 6 pm on weekdays, even during breaks. Tutors through New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development programs help kids with work after school so they don’t need to take it with them.

As schools weigh the purpose of homework in an unequal world, it’s tempting to dispose of a practice that presents real, practical problems to students across the country. But getting rid of homework is unlikely to do much good on its own. Before cutting it, it’s worth thinking about what good assignments are meant to do in the first place. It’s crucial that students from all socioeconomic backgrounds tackle complex quantitative problems and hone their reading and writing skills. It’s less important that the work comes home with them.

Jacob Sweet is a freelance writer in Somerville, Massachusetts. He is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker, among other publications.

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