CheetahCountrySurprise There is no assigned homework! 

CheetahCountrySurprise #5 There is no assigned homework! 

"If you don't assign homework, how can she be ready to handle the work when she gets to college?" asked a prospective parent". I paused. Smiling I asked, "is it true that if students stay at school longer and then do more work at home they will be more prepared for college? He smiled and asked, "yes ?". "No", I said smiling.

Let's break this down.

  • The average public school, state-mandated history course for eleventh or twelfth graders requires 250 minutes of class a week under a traditional year-long period schedule or 410 minutes in a block schedule with the course ending mid year.

  • The National PTA's meta-analysis of nationwide homework practices showed the recommended homework time to be an average of ten minutes of at-home work per grade level number; grade 1 ten minutes, grade 9 ninety-minutes-Mon-Thurs. A later study showed that homework had no affect on overall achievement at the elementary and middle school ages, and nothing but projects seemed to affect achievement in a positive way for the high school level. It was also shown that more than 60% of the time; teachers often exceeded the recommended limits-even when they themselves were teaching more than one class and knew of the hw assigned in the other class they taught themselves.

  • Using the history class we referenced for 11th or 12th graders, on a year-long traditional schedule-across the load of four core and then elective coursework- the history class would typically have 27.5 minutes of work per day. While most English/SS teachers assign one assignment in any four days, that makes for about 110 minutes a week of SS work due sometime in the week. The grand total: 360 minutes classwork, lecture, and homework combined. Eyebrows up yet?

  • Our students work on their SS course for half the year and their SCI course for half the year, like a block schedule school but it is year-long like a traditional schedule- as we rotate every other mod or one period a trimester. QUEST time, prime time, SIMS and Seminar meet all required objectives, and quite a bit of extra ones testing cannot assess like oral communication, social cognition, pitching ideas, on-demand writing, etc. - totaling 520 minutes weekly for class and work time. Small grin now?

  • Lastly, readiness for college-[ yes that was the initial question] well the average course in college is three-credit hours- which means three hours in class and typically one-half the credits in time (credit hours) is spent after class in reading or written work- if you are Mathy- that's 270 minutes a week in coursework total.

At almost double the minutes - seems students


being prepared for the demands of college life- as we require them to do


the work


 parental help and the student must plan and execute the work-building time management skills necessary for college too- unless of course you want to move into the dorms.         

I thought you didn't like kool-aide!

Seriously-  let's be real- the stuff kids fall short on when they actually get to college are the life hacks everyone needs practice in: communicating needs, balancing work with passions, self-care, nutrition and a social life... if we don't model the necessity for our children to practice these skills- it will not matter that they can identify the flying buttress in a building or comment on the conjectures of Voltaire or argue for social justice- cause they will be a

human-doing-not a human being

The truth is,


 shows that parental involvement in homework has tripled over the past fifty years -


Is this new?

I wish our mind-blowing idea to rid ourselves of homework and take family time back was innovative-but it is not. The idea that children learn through play, even big kids like teens is not new. It is also not new that all humans grow in academics when they have real conversations, real live friends, real games, real hockey sticks, real driveways with real neighborhood kids playing on them, with their real dads. Is this just a dream? It is odd to think that our children deserve the times when real people chatted across a shared piece of wood called a fence post instead of a facebook post? 

Not in Finland! In Finland, there has never been homework, and they continue to lead the global world in every way... and by the way if you want your mind blown a little more...

In Finland, students have 150 minutes of free time a day in middle school [75 mins twice a day], one third of which is to get fresh air. In Wake County, middle-schoolers have no outside time for the entire day. In high school, block scheduling schools aim to give back some free time and align with principles akin to a college semester but the amount of actual class time exceeds the total time in a college course by 2.5x and we have not even thrown in the homework yet! 

With four classes and an hour for lunch. That's a six hour day of class time! 

Let's examine this like adults...

  • Do you find your growth professionally is correlated to the amount of physical time you stay at your job site?

  • Do you find it hard to juggle family obligations when you have to take work home with you?

  • Do you do well at work when you can't see the sky, move freely, or feel as if there is only work waiting for you all day?

Imagine- you have had a few decades to master life- and yet students are expected to take work home every day and meet the demands of family life and balance passions, and other experiences

with decades



and without the full maturity of their brain cells! 

Our Success4School thinking is that it is quite draconian to think our cheetahs will do better in life by


 their lives in such a way that they have


access to free time and


work after school. 

Don't take my word for it!

Extra hours of instruction seem to be linked to better results according to experts, "You teach one hour of science more per week and you will see that reflected in higher average scores," However, research shows there is more to it. What is being taught and how it is being taught that make the difference in overall achievement. Time only matters if you have to have more minutes because the way in which you are doing it is not sticking.

Making no changes means a country cannot catch up with Finland. Schools who focus on the Finnish methodologies will be ones that understand that real world,  problem-based simulations, projects and on-demand work deliver greater value in learning in fewer hours. 

Funny thing- that's what we do!

See below how Finland stands across every country's scores on the PISA ( a test sampling students all over the world across all classifications and norms). 

By the way- looking for the US?

-Sorry! We are not even on the map!