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Has the insatiable urge to shred to pieces a never-ending tsunami of words on paper ever seem familiar? The name given to this self afflicting torture is homework. One would think that students leave the classroom with a sense of accomplishment gained due to the power of knowledge, but instead, they leave with a back on the verge breaking thanks to the heavy burden of homework. Although there are many positive aspects of homework with the main goal being to overcome the gap between a student’s learning at school and at home, research has proven that the disadvantages of more than two hours of homework often outweigh the benefits. Homework has a highly negative impact on the lives of students, therefore, it is necessary that schools and teachers take measures to reduce the workload as homework is a huge source of stress, plays the main role in the loss of free time and is often counterproductive, making students dislike learning.
First of all, homework is a major contributor of stress to students of all levels, taking a substantial toll on their mental and physical health. In a study conducted by Stanford University in 2013, 56% of students stated homework as their primary source of stress. The students were asked whether they experienced any physical symptoms of stress such as sleep deprivation, headaches, nausea, and low energy levels. 80% of the students admitted to having experienced at least one of those symptoms with 44% stating that they experienced three or more of the symptoms. Imagine a situation where one wakes up at six in the morning, sits in classrooms for seven hours while being bombarded by information from every side! The individual has tests, assignments, projects, quizzes, the list never ends! By the time one comes home, one is on the verge of collapsing due to exhaustion. One lies down to take a nap but the fact that one has a million assignments in addition to personal commitments and extracurricular activities planned for the day wakes one back to reality. In fact, as a 16-year-old student who has experienced similar situations, it is clear that all of this is undoubtedly true. The struggle to find a balance between homework, extracurricular activities and social time is insane. As a result, this stress creates unnecessary anxiety and contrary to popular belief, worsens academic performance. Thus it can be assumed that homework is the number one cause of stress for the majority of high school students. Although a little bit of stress can motivate children to achieve their goals, it can be seen from above that too much stress has a highly negative impact on their lives.
Secondly, in addition to being a source of stress, homework is a primary factor in the lack of free time. Personal time is essential for students to refresh their minds. Not being able to do so is equivalent to being trapped in a prison. According to a survey conducted at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, 84% of the students in Fire Stream agreed that homework takes away time from activities that they are passionate about such as sports, extracurriculars, and hobbies. Imagine how disheartened and troubled one would feel having to give up their passions for the sake of marks? In fact, Dr. Updale, a fellow at Queen Mary, University of London stated “Children need space to themselves, free from the imperative to perform. In the muddle of undirected activity, they may discover interests that last a lifetime.” This is especially true for high school students who are at a very important stage in their life where this extra time is crucial to figure out who they are and what they would like to pursue in the future. How can society expect an 18-year-old person to choose a career if they are not given the time to do so? In addition to free time, homework also takes away family time. In an article published by The New York Times, a mother talks about how homework has impacted her family. “The stress homework places on families starts early. My children aren’t even in high school yet, and I’m not looking forward to the change. I don’t want them to give up everything they used to do. Already, homework struggles dominate many of our evenings.” To better understand the severity of this situation, suppose that one is a high school student who gets at least 2.5 hours of homework each day. One has two hours of extracurricular activities two days per week and works part-time three days per week. Imagine how exhausted, stressed and frustrated one would feel trying to balance all these responsibilities? The struggles students go through to cope up with homework is incomprehensible. In short, children should have time to be children. No one has the right to deprive students of the sweet memories of childhood created during their family time and free time.
Finally, the foremost reason why schools should reduce homework is that it is counterproductive. This is demonstrated through the research conducted by Gerald LeTendre and David Baker who examined the data from The International Study of Mathematics and Sciences. The study analyzed schools in 41 different countries and collected data on student performance from Grade 4 to Grade 12. The results implied that there was no connection between homework and test marks. For example, it was found that in countries such as Japan, the Czech Republic and Denmark, whose students score the highest marks, receive very little homework. On the contrary, the United States, Vietnam, Greece, and Iran whose students score low average marks receive a great deal of homework. Similar research was conducted by Dr. Harris Cooper, director of the education program at Duke University who arrived at the same conclusion. Dr. Cooper himself remarked that. ‘Even for high school students, overloading them with homework is not associated with higher grades,’ Moreover, he mentioned that if homework passes the 10-minute rule, which means that homework increases by 10 minutes for each grade level, then the work is extremely ineffective. Furthermore, in addition to earning good grades, the purpose of homework is to encourage learning and increase interest and enjoyment towards certain topics outside the school environment. However, research has found once more that isn’t always the case. The Stanford Education Scholar Denise Pope conducted a study on the effects of homework. Her results found that there was no link between the number of homework students receive and how much they enjoyed it. Pope was noted saying ‘This kind of busy work, by its very nature, discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points.’ Imagine the boredom one would feel spending hours and hours on something they don’t even have the slightest interest in. Even if they did, the interest would be suppressed due to the repetitive exercises and memorization that homework is usually composed of. Students are not robots programmed to do the same repetitive task called homework. They deserve to spread their wings and discover the wonders of knowledge through practical means that make their interest flourish and have an actual impact on their grades. Thus it can be said that homework is often inefficient and its purpose is rarely achieved.
Despite the disadvantages of homework mentioned above, some might still argue that homework is beneficial as it teaches children to work independently and train themselves to think alone, both of which are essential life skills. To a certain extent, homework does promote independence but definitely not as much as one might think. The reason is that when students are at home, they often receive help from their parents and siblings. Moreover, technology is growing faster than ever before. All the information students require to complete their homework is at their fingertips. However, when students are in the classroom, they don’t have access to these modes of information therefore they are forced to train their minds to think. Ultimately homework does not teach as much independence as one would expect but instead teaches dependency on the internet and sometimes family members.
In conclusion, homework has detrimental consequences on the lives of students because it causes immense amounts of stress, deprives students of precious time and is counterproductive, therefore it is essential for reforms to be made to the education system such that students receive less homework. Albert Einstein famously proclaimed, ‘Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.’ This can only be done when children approach learning with a passion which certainly cannot occur when one’s mind is stressed and deprived of time to refresh. Therefore the world must not rest until every child sleeps well, stays healthy and approaches learning with enthusiasm. Students hold the key to the future, whose door can only be opened if students are not robbed of their childhood. Monica Pellerin conveyed this flawlessly. “Give the kids a break… Let the kids enjoy life before life gets too tough.”
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