Late, missing, and overdue. Stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. These are words that many students can relate to, from middle school to college undergraduates.
According to a 2014 Stanford University research study, 56% of students cited that homework was their primary source of stress in their life. This stress leads to many underlying, and painfully unaddressed issues like physical health problems and even alienation from their communities.
Many districts in America follow a guideline of “10 minutes of work per grade level.” However, this is a flawed rule of thumb that leads to overworked students. Prior research shows that the benefits of homework stop after two hours and that 90 minutes is the optimal amount. According to the same study, the average student spends over three hours on homework per day.
This abundance of busy work leads students to feel overwhelmed and feel like they are losing out on their day. This imbalance of assignments and leisure leads to the question; should students conform to the work or should the work conform to the students?
Mr. Sylvan Tauber, the AP/IB psychology teacher, believes that “Homework for homework’s sake, without immediate feedback, is useless.” Homework assigned just to give students busy work does nothing but take time away from students, and at worst, can lead students to perform worse in the classroom. “If you can understand a concept in five problems, why do ten? If you cannot understand a concept in five problems, why do ten?” said Tauber.
Trying to figure out topics you don’t understand through homework can end up leading to even more confusion, as attested to by freshman Austin Adams who said, “More often than not, my grade ends up going down from doing assignments I don’t understand.”
Many students who plan on attending first-rate colleges are almost required to do extensive amounts of homework to stand a chance in those competitive environments. According to Stanford, this environment hinders learning and the engagement of students.
Research shows that most students see homework as “mindless” and only as a way to not lose points. With the pressure to have the best grades, students end up doing homework to get points and make that number go up. Homework can help students understand key topics and learn important life skills, but that aspect is entirely lost when students are pushed to only do busy work to keep their grades from falling. “After school, I have boxing and tennis,” said Adams, “After that, I don’t really have time to do anything else besides homework and I usually end up staying up until late at night to finish it all.”
Homework can also lead to health problems, as many students cite issues such as sleep deprivation, headaches, and stomach problems. The lead researcher of the study, Denise Pope, believes that, “as students are spending more time alone doing homework, which means they have less time for family and fewer opportunities to engage in their communities.” This isolation also affects students’ personal lives, as research shows that students were more likely to cancel activities, not see family or friends, and stop pursuing hobbies they enjoyed.
Stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed should not be words that students associate with homework. Students should be encouraged to learn and have time outside of school to grow as people. School shouldn’t take over a student’s life; instead, students should be thriving and enjoying their youth while they can.