A (Mostly) True Tale of Homework and Rigor

Peeking into my senior daughter's bedroom, "Minden, what are you up to?"

"Working on homework, as usual," she replied with resignation. She didn't even look up from the 28 pound American Government textbook. "I have at least two hours of work to do tonight."

"What the heck?" I exploded. "This is the third night this week you have been camped out in your room with homework. What exactly do you do in class? There is no way you can be working on your work if you have this much left!"

Minden looked up at me with a flash of anger in her eyes. "Seriously? In our block we spend all 100 minutes taking notes and listening to lecture. Then just before it is time to leave we get hammered with this work."

"Does he not get that he isn't the only teacher at school?" I groan. "Does he think you are only taking one class this year?"

"Because this is an advanced placement class, he says that he has to teach it like a college class. He said it has to be more rigorous because it is an upper level class." She explains. "He also says that if he doesn't cram all of this in, we won't be able to pass the advanced placement test."

"That guy has a real problem, doesn't he realize that in that same college class you would only be in his room for three hours a week tops, not four to six like you have at the high school?" I responded. "Of course you need to spend more time working outside of the classroom. When I was taking classes I was only in class fifteen to twenty hours a week. That left plenty of time for the homework. Does he think 'rigor' means hours of homework after an long lecture with PowerPoints?"

Minden grimaced, "Actually I think that is exactly what he thinks the word means."

"This is ridiculous, why don't you get out of this class and take the regular government class? Trust me, you will find the college class will be much easier to pass." I continued. "You are having to spend way too much time on this stuff. You're a senior, you should be enjoying the year and not be a slave to all of this crappy homework."

"I can't Dad, it is too late to switch and if I pass the test I won't have to take it in college," Minden sighed.

"I hate homework," I mutter as I push close her door.

While this is not a verbatim conversation I had with my daughter Minden last year, it is an honest amalgam of conversations that I had over her last two years of high school. 


  1. I too hate homework. Unfortunately we are mandated by our district to have a certain number of HW grades per quarter. Sometimes I fudge and put class work in as HW grades. Don't tell.

    1. I am supposed to take 2 grades a week, yeah that doesn't really happen either.

  2. So, I would love to extend this conversation some. What do you propose should change in that classroom? As an AP Govt instructor myself, I think some insight would be helpful.

    1. I told my wife I won't let my other two daughters take AP classes. The demand is ridiculous compared to the same credit they receive at the college level. As for how you could change the work load, I have no suggestions. As long as you are required to cover so much content (more than the same college class would be required to) you and the students are pretty much out of luck.

  3. I do not teach AP or high school, but it occurs to me that we should be engaging students in our work as educators. As a fifth grade teacher, we have a homework sheet for math on most nights, and I ask students to read at home. When they have a book they are excited about, the reading portion is no problem. I allow them to complete the math homework on their own schedule, and they self-assess. Two hours of homework seems a lot, much less for one class, but again, I'm looking at it from a fifth grade perspective. It seems that we should put the bulk of learning in class, and homework, if used, should reinforce the learning. My stance-less is more, if at all.