Homework deters from student success

February 15, 2010
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Joe is currently playing varsity football and has all advanced placement classes. His grades are important to him, so he studies nightly and tries his best to keep them high while playing a sport and maintaining his social life. Between the seven hours a day he spends at school, the two hours he spends at football practice and the eight hours a night he’s supposed to spend sleeping, it doesn’t give him much time to do anything else; however, he does have more to do: homework. Homework is supposed to help students retain the information that they have learned about during the school day, but it can often times have the opposite effect because of fatigue and disinterest. Additionally, teachers do not communicate with each other, and overlapping assignments create an even smaller window of time that students can use for self-interests. Too much homework causes students to lose focus and motivation; the extreme workload students receive from their combined teachers should be monitored and held to a maximum number of hours per night.

One major contributor to too much homework is teachers’ inability to interact with each other regarding each student’s schedule. If several classes issue an hour worth of homework on a given night, the day is literally spent studying, both at school and home. This creates anxiety even during students’ downtime, making it almost worthless. The stress and anxiety increase on days when multiple classes are issuing tests on the same day. The night before testing is important for studying to do well, and when multiple classes need to be considered, each individual class cannot possibly get the attention it requires.

It is important that we find a way to monitor students’ assignments if all teachers insist on giving homework as if they are the only teacher on campus. Even though there may be rules governing how many hours a week students are supposed to spend on homework, many teachers may not understand how much homework they are giving per night. Reading assignments depend on not only your reading speed, but how deeply you understand the text, which could take many re-reads. As a solution, we should implement a way for students to gain some flexibility with deadlines if they can show evidence that multiple important assignments are due in a short amount of time. Another solution is to separate department testing periods. For example, science classes could give tests on Monday and math classes on Tuesday. This would make it easier to focus on studying instead of panicking about getting all your assignments done.

There are many counter-arguments to easing the homework schedule for students. Parents and teachers may believe that homework increases knowledge and keeps kids out of trouble. In contrast, a heavy load of homework often disturbs knowledge because of the stress associated with it. Homework has never kept a student out of trouble that wanted to find it; homework does create discipline, but it is not needed in such large amounts. This ongoing process prevents students from using their downtime to mentally recover from the long day the way they do physically at night while sleeping. The mental stress can cause tiredness and low stamina at school.

The benefits of a shortened workload and monitored homework are positive. Students will be more focused and possibly more eager to learn. The quality of the work will improve with the focus, as well. Instead of rushing to get things done, students will have long-term knowledge of subjects instead of trying to cram as much in as they can for the time being. As the quality of sleep and downtime improve, grades and attentiveness will improve as well.

This is not a plea to abolish homework; it is a suggestion that the homework that we receive may be too much for students of many different learning abilities and obligations to handle sometimes. Students face scheduling challenges daily, from difficult commutes to unexpected situations that require our full attention. If schools were more supportive of the students’ needs, they could help to improve the students’ work. The reasons for monitoring and limiting homework far outweigh the problems too much of it causes.





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