A Tenth Grader Speaks Out

My name is Maya and I would like to thank you for making this website to inform people of this problem. I am a tenth grade student who is currently weighed down with so much homework I can barely handle it. I’ve been talked into higher level classes to better my chance at getting into college, and just tonight I have to read 10 pages of my textbook and take notes, create a five paragraph response, write the first two paragraphs of my research paper, 23 questions of math, and a biology worksheet, all of which was just assigned last class. That’s only half of my homework, not considering the next four classes on my other day. On top of being a generally anxious person and suffering from panic attacks, as soon as I get home from school I’m stressed with tons of work and get to bed late, when I have to wake up at 5:30 the next morning. I often find myself depressed and even suffering physically at my lack of free time, which I usually use to read and catch a few more hours of sleep. I hope we all can bring this matter to everyone’s attention, not as a complaining teenager, but as a hardworking student who just can’t deal with it all anymore. Thank you!

4 thoughts on “A Tenth Grader Speaks Out

  1. Maya,

    You make a very compelling argument against homework overload. For a number of reasons, I know it’s hard to confront the issue with school personel. But for starters, it sounds like you’re not getting enough sleep. This is a fairly objective point. Sleep experts claim that adolescents need on average 9-1/4 hours of sleep. If you are getting up at 5:30 am, you need to be in bed by 8:15. Now that sounds ludricrous! Unless school start times change, highschoolers are going to be sleep deprived. But the homework load only makes it worse. A sleep deprived teen is not going to be an efficient producer. Add the stress and sense of doom and gloom that homework deadlines add, and some students are going to grind to a halt. I imagine many students are staying up beyond mignight on a regular basis. Perhaps you could start keeping a journal of your day to show how packed it is.

    For slow readers and those with writer’s block, the book assignments, essays, and research papers loom huge. 10 pages of techinical reading isn’t an easy task after putting in a full day. And for those who aren’t math geniuses, 23 math problems are going to take more than an hour, perhaps 2. If math is your thing and you’re taking an advanced course, I doubt there are many problems that you can crank out at a rate of 1 every 3 minutes, especially if you have to stop and think about what you’re doing, or look in the textbook for help.

    I imagine your teachers really don’t stop to think how long each assignment actually takes. Perhaps if they were required periodically to complete each other’s assignments, or even their own, and attempt to simulate the experience of a typical kid they’d gain some understanding.

    I found the article “Do the Math” on this website a very concise overview of the problem of not enough hours in a highschooler’s day. Perhaps you could copy this and send it to someone at your school, or a school board member, or the local newspaper, along with the letter you posted on this site and a schedule of your typical day. It would be more powerful if you attached your name to it, but do it anonymously if that seems safer. Or send a complimentary copy of Sara Bennetts book, along with a note and schedule, to the person you think will be most receptive.

    After joining this online discussion, I’ve finally ordered Sara Bennett’s book. Perhaps your parents can find some ideas there, but it sounds like you have the time to read it yourself!

    Hang in there, and try to get up the courage to ask for a break over the spring holiday!


  2. I don’t teach highschool, but I am a teacher, and I appreciate your thoughtful and well written ideas about homework, as opposed to one entry which simply stated their opionion on homwork with some fantastic profanity involved. If I were a high school teacher and on this website I would have taken your concerns very seriously, as opposed to some of the other comments posted by students.
    As a teacher I put a lot of thought into the the time that assignments are to take, and I remember feeling that way when I was in highschool too. It is tough to be in your situation and hopefully you have the ability to speak with your parents and guidence counselors about your very valid concerns. And, yes this is coming from a teacher, who believes in homework, understands the pressure that is put upon teachers; but also understands the pressures on teenagers. good luck.


  3. Very articulate!
    I really wish my school (everyone’s school) would do the math about sleep. We recently did a school-wide survey, and when the results came in they were all like, “go us, our students get more sleep than average!” And then the numbers came up–yeah we do, by SEVEN MINUTES, hooray! And we’re still two and a half hours behind the recommended sleep time for teenagers…
    Then they sent out in a letter to parents how ‘the vast majority of kids here really love school.’ Now to me, ‘vast majority’ means like 90%–really it was 75% who thought school was a positive experience, with a whole quarter of the school either turned off or stressed out of their minds. Yes, it’s great that 75% is more than the average. It’s really NOT great and I think should be really alarming that a quarter of the school, the equivalent of an entire grade, is having serious problems. Shiny side of the apple out is okay for some of the more hyperobsessive parents I guess, but personally I thought they were treading a fine line between being optimistic and being misrepresentational.


  4. Pingback: This is So Sad «

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