An interesting point/counterpoint about homework appeared in USA Today this week. The paper’s editorial stance is that our educational system has fallen behind those in many other countries, and lowering the amount of homework assigned to students would only make things worse. The editorial writer states, “If anything U.S. schools are guilty of spending too little time on academics,” and “Surveys of international studies show the homework loads of U.S. students near the bottom.”

But Sara Bennett’s counterpoint seems to be much more well-reasoned, pointing out that some of those countries whose schools assign less homework than ours are among the highest scoring the in the world—Japan, Denmark, and the Czech Republic. Clearly there is no direct correlation between the amount of homework assigned and overall academic performance.

I think both articles—while interesting—miss an important point. It’s not about the amount of assigned homework; it’s about the signal-to-noise ratio. My complaint about homework assignments in our schools is that they are 95 percent drivel. One hour per night of substantial, enlightening study would be far more effective than two/three hours of pointless, repetitious busywork.