At the end of the school year, I received the following speech from a 16-year-old male student, who is now a junior at a public school in California. He enjoys playing drums, wants to go to Pepperdine University, and told me, “I don’t mean to brag, but the class liked my speech most.” I hope his teachers listened to what he had to say.
Slowly Strangled to Silence: Homework
by a 10th grader
“Where did my life go?” asked the boy who was killed by homework. As young people growing up, teenagers (like anyone else) should be able to enjoy life, not being harassed every week by the obnoxious voice which taunts “Oh! You can’t go today. You’ve got that huge project to do…remember?” Unfortunately in the society that individuals live in today, (honors and AP) students are bombarded with ever-increasing amounts of homework each and every day. Where is the good in making students spend their days and weekends on a pile of work?
Of course, one might argue that homework is beneficial to a student’s learning and journey to college. Yes, homework is indeed beneficial and even essential to students in their road to success, but extensive amounts of it are unnecessary and harmful. Aside from taking away time from relaxing and being a kid, large bundles of homework, for many who choose to take school seriously and do their work, harm a student’s well-being.
Many students have experienced sleep deprivation and severe stress because of their large work load. Going to sleep past twelve o’clock everyday is extremely unhealthy. Research shows that sleep deprivation can lead to a weakened immune system, depression, irritability, and decreased alertness and ability to focus. If teachers do not care enough about their students’ physical health, then they should at least recognize that they are also hurting themselves by assigning hours of homework. As mentioned above, students who are not getting enough sleep will have decreased alertness and ability to focus. This means that their grade in the class is bound to drop. Because the student’s grades will suffer, the teacher also suffers as he/she is responsible for teaching the students.
Instead, why not give less homework? This would be more effective in a student’s learning because a reduced amount of work would mean more time to learn and, therefore, help students improve grade wise, as opposed to just doing busywork. In math class for example, why does the teacher assign twenty problems on the same type of math problem? If the student understands the concept, he/she will not get better at solving the problem if he/she does it twenty times again. On the other hand, if the student does not understand the concept, he/she will not comprehend it any more by failing twenty times. In fact, the student will focus more on finishing the assignment rather than learn how to do it.
As a sophomore in high school taking on three honors classes and an AP class, I understand what it is to be sleep deprived and extremely stressed. Entering the school year, I was doing great in all my classes. I readily learned the information being explained and took a firm understanding of what I was being taught. As time progressed, the homework loads became greater. Not long after the school year began, I found myself going to sleep past twelve ‘o clock everyday, not because of distractions, and being overwhelmed by stress. At first, this did not affect my performance in academics, but as I lost more and more sleep the consequences started to kick in. It became difficult for me to focus, learn, understand information, and remember information. Furthermore, my alertness decreased, my thinking became slower and my desire to learn decreased to a minimum as all I wanted and could think about was sleep (currently my homework amount has decreased and I am getting more sleep). I saw that my grades were slowly dropping. This made me very unhappy as my initial goal was to attain straight A’s. Not only has homework harmed my grades, but also my overall well-being. As I became accustomed to sleeping for only 6.5 hours, life became difficult (keep in mind that sleep deprivation, in this case, is directly related to excess homework). As mentioned above, depression is a symptom of sleep deprivation. Although I never grew depressed, I did find it more difficult to be content. Additionally, it became more difficult for me to appreciate things, hold a conversation, and respond to various questions.
I trust that these points have influenced your thoughts on surplus homework. I hope you [teachers] will consider assigning less homework to your students as a means of having a more effective teaching system and supporting their total well-being.