Homework problems often reflect our changing American society. "Most children don't come home to a plate of cookies and Mom saying, `Do your homework,' '' explains Mary Beth Blegen, Teacher in Residence at the U.S. Department of Education and a veteran Minnesota high school history, humanities, and writing teacher. Many parents report returning home around dinnertime after a hectic day at work, too tired to monitor assignments. Students' personal difficulties and competing priorities can also create obstacles to completing homework successfully.
Students have more activities and options that compete for their time: jobs, sports activities, church choir, television, and family chores. Some teachers express concerns about students who perceive homework to be useless drudgery, as well as the lack of a stigma for those who fail to complete assignments.
More children today also have personal difficulties that are associated with a host of problems in school, including the ability to complete homework successfully. These include:
troubled or unstable home lives;
lack of positive adult role models;
teenage pregnancies and parenting responsibilities;
chemical dependency problems; or
a high rate of mobility, found among families who move their children from school to school.