Less homework is less stressful for students

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Anna Minton

BY ANNA MINTON (’17)

The clock strikes midnight and there is still at least an hour’s worth of homework to do.  Add up all the math worksheets, science labs, English essays and government notes, and it is no wonder I haven’t spontaneously combusted from information overload. However, I know I’m not the only one out there with this challenge; the issue of too much homework in one evening.

We all know that Granville is a great school that excels academically, and our course rigor reflects the pride we take in our academics. Granville Exempted Village School’s state wide rankings and test scores confirm our academic excellence. Granville teachers and administrators help students prepare for their next steps after high school, and to explore opportunities at selective colleges. The question, though, is what role does homework play in the preparation process.

Many students have problems managing their time with hours of nightly homework and extra-curriculars. It’s no secret that colleges prefer a well-rounded student. However, students have a hard time involving themselves with school clubs and other activities due to their lack of time. The problem isn’t with the desire to do things; it’s managing the time to do them. Honestly, I’m pretty sure plenty of people would love to go to a Key Club meeting rather than spending an hour conjugating Spanish verbs in the evening. However, that’s a problem that many students have: they have  at least an hour’s worth of Spanish review to do in one evening, on top of their other subjects.

If all this assigned homework is to prepare us for college, then I have to wonder about another factor that will affect our future opportunities: our overall health. Studies report a healthy adolescent should get approximately 7-9 hours of sleep per night. This is required for basic physical and mental health.

Most high school students would either laugh or cry if you told them to get that much sleep. With the amount of homework given for each class at GHS, it is impossible to go to bed before midnight on most nights. Taking into account that school starts at 8 am, the average 7-9 hours of desired sleep now gets shortened down to 5-6 hours in reality. This not only creates health problems, but also often turns the high school into an episode of the Walking Dead. I would even be bold enough to say that you can’t actually talk to anyone before 2nd period unless you give them coffee, otherwise they will either bite your head off or try to eat your hand (where their coffee cup should be instead).

So what is the solution? Maybe it’s better communication. At the beginning of the school year, most teachers often relay their commitment to only 30 to 60 minutes of homework each night. The problem arises when you have that amount of work in each class subject per evening. With six classes a day, that is a minimum of 3 hours of homework a night. This does not include studying for any tests that week. When we have 3 tests the next day, our timeline for that night diminishes even more, when calculating in that required study time.

In addition, AP classes bring this issue to a completely different level. I understand that the classes are following a recommended curriculum set by the College Board. However, the classes at times can seem more like a to-do list, than an actual class. Is there a possible way for AP level courses to complete more content activities in class, rather than giving both notes and reading to the students at home every night?

I also know that the blame for this homework epidemic can’t be put only on the teachers; over scheduled kids play a huge part in this problem as well. Some people can make the point that if a student has 4-5 hours of homework, then they could be finished with their work by 7-8:00 at night. This, of course, is if the student starts on their homework the minute school gets out, and doesn’t stop to take a break. This seems to be a impossibility for today’s typical student.

The idea that a student has no extra-curricular activities and is able to focus only on schoolwork is simply not a reality. The “over scheduled kid” has become the standard student. The questions is, should educators accept this change in the student’s available time? Again, I am not saying that this problem can only be put on the teachers; students need to learn time management and how to prioritize their work. However, a little heads up or coordination between teachers would be beneficial to all parties.

Would it be possible to have teachers in different subjects to regularly communicate regarding test schedules and large projects? Could there be a multi-subject class calendar that would schedule all the tests for one day, and then block an additional test being scheduled once 2 tests have already been booked? Even though students don’t all take the same classes, could there be a master calendar on Schoology for each department in general, so the English teachers could see what the science teachers were doing that week? Could teachers explore different avenues to confirm that we know information versus just giving us nightly tasks? I know the solution to this homework issue won’t be easy but I think it’s a topic that needs to be discussed and all parties need to continue to search for a resolution.

I think that most students at Granville High School would agree that we are getting a top notch education. We believe that we are being successfully prepared for college and future endeavors. The question becomes whether this success is a result from doing multiple hours of homework per night.