Thirty hours? For most children, mandatory homework assignments push their workweek far beyond the school day and deep into what any other laborers would consider overtime. Even without sports or music or other school-sponsored extracurriculars, the daily homework slog keeps many students on the clock as long as lawyers, teachers, medical residents, truck drivers and other overworked adults. Is it any wonder that,deprived of the labor protections that we provide adults, our kids are suffering an epidemic of disengagement, anxiety and depression? When my daughters were in middle school, I would urge them into bed before midnight and then find them clandestinely studying under the covers with a flashlight. We cut back on their activities but still found ourselves stuck in a system on overdrive, returning home from hectic days at 6 p.
How do Finnish youngsters spend less time in school, get less homework and still come out with some of the best results in the world? The question gets to the heart of a lot of parental angst about hard work and too much pressure on children in school. Parents facing all those kitchen table arguments over homework might wonder about its value if the Finns are getting on just fine without burning the midnight oil. It also touches on another tension between schools and families - the increased cost of summer holidays.
America has long had a fickle relationship with homework. A century or so ago, progressive reformers argued that it made kids unduly stressed , which later led in some cases to district-level bans on it for all grades under seventh. This anti-homework sentiment faded, though, amid mid-century fears that the U.