Is Homework Overpowering Students Around the Country? | Teen Ink

Is Homework Overpowering Students Around the Country?

February 25, 2015
By Delanie Lewis BRONZE, Plano, Texas
Delanie Lewis BRONZE, Plano, Texas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Jim Benton once said, “Homework strongly indicates that the teachers are not doing their jobs well enough during the school day. It’s not like they’ll let you bring your home stuff to school and work on it there. You can’t say, ‘I didn’t finish sleeping at home, so I have to work on finishing my sleep here.’” All around the country, students from grades five through twelve are victims of an overload of busy work to stuff into their backpacks and take home to complete.  With the opinion that this work needed to be done outside of school is beneficial and will reinforce the subjects that were just taught, teachers are assigning students at least thirty minutes of homework per subject, resulting in a ridiculous pile-up of paper for all core classes. The American school system is unjustified in allowing teachers to give unlimited amounts of homework because they don’t take into consideration the things students deal with outside of school and it ends up having negative effects on children mentally, physically, and emotionally.

As students get older, the amount of work they receive gets larger. More of a workload, means the less time, which usually leads to stress and cramming. In a recent study done by a Stanford researcher, “56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress” and continued by saying forty-three percent reported their primary source of stress was cramming for tests and thirty-three percent saying that their stress was caused by maintaining good grades in particular subjects. They found that less than one percent of students said homework was not their main stress trigger (Parker). Although stress is something that everyone has to deal with, it seems a bit over the top for the average American student to be dealing with these large amounts of mental and emotional hardship at such a young age. According to the Yerkes-Dodson law, “individuals under low and high stress learn the least and that those under moderate stress learn the most” (Whitman). It is shown in studies that these excessive amounts of homework cause students to become worried about the amounts of homework they need to complete and it leads to a reaction of not enjoying the subjects anymore. The “pointless” work students need to do just to keep their grades up results in losing interest in whatever it is they may be studying. (Parker). Many students get very frazzled which ends up leaving a bad taste in their mouth at the thought of homework. Learning about new things should be enjoyable when instead, it is doing the exact opposite and making children stress over it and hate the idea of it. Along with all of this stress, there comes even more negative effects on the average teenage student.


Having to deal with great amounts of stress, some students don’t know how to cope with it which results in their physical health waning. Researchers have found that the increased levels of stress has lead to “sleep deprivation and other health issues” (Parker). A great deal of students have said that they are not able to sleep for days in order to keep up with all of their homework. They also get headaches, experience weight loss, and acquire stomach problems. According to researchers in the child development field, they found that “regardless of how much a student generally studies each day, if that student sacrifices sleep time to study more than usual, he or she will have more trouble understanding material taught in class and be more likely to struggle on an assignment or test the following day” (Gillen-O’Neel). So according to this statement, the homework students are staying up for to complete ultimately causes them to take one step back in mastering the subject they are putting so much extra effort into. On top of the lack of sleep, some students turn to drugs and alcohol to help cope with the stress they are having to deal with. The use of drugs has negative effects on these students such as: even more fatigue, irritability, mood changes, irresponsibility, disconnection from friends and family members, and decreased interest in school and other activities (“Teens”). No student should have to turn to illegal usage of drugs or be deprived of their sleep just to complete hours of busy work, because these negative effects add up and can lead to serious health issues.


Lastly, no child or teenager should be forced to give up things that they truly love or be deprived of extracurricular activities in order to get unnecessary hours of school work done. According to a survey conducted by a Stanford researcher, the data and student responses revealed that spending all of this time on homework meant that these students were "not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills.” It was also found that, “students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy” (Parker). Many parents also complain about their children being in school for at least seven hours then coming home and going straight into their bedrooms to complete endless papers rather than going outside to play, having family time, or doing chores. Mother of high school boy, Gisela Voss is against the load of homework and complained about the, “heavy-duty assignments during vacations and summers” (Mohler). Not only does it affect middle and high schoolers, it takes a toll on college students as well. Researcher Pertofsky reported that, “ ‘while students are so busy packing resumes, they are missing out on the great stress relievers – connecting with other people, having a rich and varied social life and cultivating hobbies and interests that are truly satisfying as opposed to ‘resume packers,’ ’” (Wu). Over an hours work of assignments seems unfair to a student and their family because it takes time away from a family being together and being able to have fun and. Why make a child worry about the school work that needs to be completed, when they could be taking advantage of their free time instead?


On the contrary, some parents believe this amount of homework is necessary. Reports say that these parents think that, “homework is a way for them to keep track of how their children are doing in school, and to help them if they are having problems”. People also think that homework is very important because it, “teaches children to be more disciplined and to manage their time better. They also state that it, “reinforces what the students are learning in school” (Conrod). Many adults believe that young people need to experience struggle and how to handle difficult situations because these are things they need to know how to deal with later on in life. Sure, all of these things may be true, but is the actual amount of homework really necessary? Yes, parents can keep track of their child’s progress through their ability to get through the tasks at home, but does it have to be ten pages of the same lesson? Yes, one extra assignment to do at home gives the student more practice of what they have just learned at school, but is it necessary to be doing five page packets over that topic? Yes, everyone should learn how to deal with stress and learn to get things accomplished on their own, but do these small victories have to be every night by completing hours of work? Researchers have found that these loads of homework, “discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points” (Parker). This is definitely not what parents want their children’s educational experience to be like.


Many people would agree that homework is and should remain a useful tactic for students to comprehend and fully understand things on their own at home, but the disagreement is on the amount that is given. The American school system is forcing too much homework for students which causes an unhealthy amount of stress, sleep deprivation and other health issues, and reduces the time they are able to do what they enjoy, spend time with family, and attend social gatherings. Concluding that more isn’t always better, director of the education program at Duke University stated that, “The bottom line is that all kids should be doing homework but the amount and type should vary according to grade and no matter what, it's only good in moderation" (Mohler).


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