Last updated on July 27, 2022
It’s easy to villainize homework, a common stress factor in our daily lives. Numerous teachers assign a simple ten minutes of homework a day, usually more. However, entering middle and high school, the six to seven classes quickly add up. Soon, drowning in hours of endless work becomes routine. This cuts into extracurriculars, and personal free time, and dictates how we spend our day. Homework is not necessary because of the negative impacts on mental health it helps develop, such as burn-out, and only benefits the non-disadvantaged families.
Homework was originally invented by an Italian teacher in 1905 and used to punish misbehaving students. The version of homework we complete every day is far from that. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the typical high schooler spends 6.8 hours of homework per week, perhaps longer. What used to be discipline has now become a plethora of pressure. “That means that by asking our children to put in an hour or more per day of dedicated homework time, we are not only not helping them, but according to the aforementioned studies — we are hurting them, both physically and emotionally.” Being an eighth-grader with non-academic commitments and a touch of insomnia, homework is a huge anxiety factor in my daily life. Although I’m still thriving in the school environment, it is an unnecessary distraction when I could be preparing for a final or different commitment. One of the leading causes of sleep deprivation in teens is homework, which [in middle and high school at least], can easily be limited to a small subset.
With a lack of relaxation and an abundance of work, the body shuts down, physically and mentally. Burnout, depression, and anxiety are all present when the anticipated overload occurs. What is burnout? “A stressful lifestyle can put people under extreme pressure, to the point that they feel exhausted, empty, burned out, and unable to cope.” The term “burnout” was coined by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s. For students with a competitive sport, other activity-filled schedules, or AP/honor classes, this has been proven true. It has been proven that areas of work cause this, not to be confused with exhaustion or depression, which can be life-threatening negative thoughts, low self-esteem, and hopelessness. It’s important to understand balance. If homework cannot be completely eliminated from the curriculum, it should at least be ensured a cut in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
In addition to unkept stress, many students do not have the proper access to technology and homework help. Less affluent families have children that may work jobs, take care of family members when the parents are working multiple shifts, and generally don’t have internet connections/technology. “It highlights Inequalities” is the term the University of Sandiego uses. In addition, the American Psychological Association also observes, “Adding homework into the mix is one more thing to deal with — and if the student is struggling, the task of completing homework can be too much to consider at the end of an already long school day”. Although most students simply whine and complain about the extra work, it can be a true disadvantage for children in struggling home environments.
Many would argue, “Homework is essential to the school’s curriculum. How else would the students polish up the learning material, get extra practice, and teach time management?”. While these are all fair points, extended school hours could solve this problem. Accessibility to help after school, as mentioned previously, is difficult for many students. Extending the school session by even an hour or less, which will also benefit parents’ working schedules, lets the teacher have more time to grade assignments done in class and deliver help to the students. Teachers should ensure that students understand the material while in class. When the extra practice is then supplied, the teacher has an opportunity to work with the pupil. A study hall would be advantageous as well, as opposed to leaving students to fend for themselves after school.
Although homework has both positives and negatives, the strain it places on students is not healthy and outweighs the benefits. Learners already spend six to seven hours five days a week in a tense environment, and as the name implies, work after school shouldn’t be standard. Many workplaces are experimenting with five-hour workdays, such as Tower Paddle Boards because a study by the APA showed Americans can only be fully productive for two to three hours in a row. In the future, I hope that schools will be able to do the same in order to prevent mental and physical overworking, level the playing field for unequipped families, and allow students to spend more time with friends, and family, and pursue non-academic activities.