Point and Counterpoint: Homework
October 15, 2018
Point – ‘Excessive’ homework is not the issue
According to Miriam Webster’s dictionary, homework is “an assignment given to a student to be completed outside the regular class period.” But, according to most Highlands High School students, homework can be summed up in a few words: A time-consuming nightmare.
On average, according to a survey conducted of 76 students, HHS students say that they have anywhere between 2-3 hours of homework per night. Along with sports, clubs, and other activities, most students often say they don’t finish their homework until between 10:00-11:00 PM, while many others say homework takes them until one or two in the morning.
This doesn’t seem to add up.
In the same survey, the majority of Highlands students say that they begin homework around 4 PM. With three hours of homework, assuming students work straight through, most students would be finished by 7:00, which is not supported by survey results. What gives? Why do students claim to be up until midnight doing homework but say they only have a few hours at most? The main reasons are procrastination, distraction, and prolonged “study breaks” that students count as “doing homework” when complaining to friends.
Of the many reasons that make homework more intimidating than it should be, procrastination is one of the biggest factors.
Students often claim to “begin” their homework after school, even if that means just opening their MacBook to glance at assignments. Students then fill their time with other activities such as eating dinner, Snapchatting and texting friends and watching TV shows and movies. This time is often counted by many students as homework time, as homework is what is on their minds. Finally, at 8 or 9, students will actually begin their homework, even though they claimed to earlier.
Procrastination on lengthy assignments also affects students and causes them to have homework pile up. For example, if an assignment is given on Monday and due on Friday, many students will wait until Thursday night to begin. This assignment will then take nearly five times the amount of work intended, all because students don’t split up the work among days. The next day at school, students often run around and tell their friends they worked on the assignment until 1:00 AM, (I’m guilty of this, too!) but this was only because no work was put in earlier.
Distraction plays a role as well. Distractions can range from something as small as answering a text or changing music or they can be as big as watching a TV show or going to a late practice. When talking to friends, these issues often become part of the total amount of time spent on homework, even though they aren’t homework at all. Distractions are often counted as study breaks as well. A whopping 93% of HHS students admit that they take study breaks from time to time, many of which last for a couple of hours.
Next time, when you’re doing homework, remember that sometimes you don’t have as much homework as it may seem. If you stay on top of assignments, steer clear from distractions, and try to greatly limit study breaks, homework won’t feel like the monster it seems.
Counterpoint – Too Much of a Good Thing
Homework is inevitable in school, however, is there such a thing as “too much” homework? The answer is yes. A poll done by the University of Phoenix found that students, on average had about 3.5 hours of homework a night. That’s 17 hours of homework a week. At least, according to the teachers.
Homework isn’t a bad thing. Multiple studies show that homework helps students further their comprehension and understanding of the materials and skills they are being taught in the classroom.
However, students also need time to do other things. If school lets out around three, and it takes 3.5 hours to do homework, it’s already seven thirty. About dinner time.
That’s not even mentioning that some students have jobs, who go straight from school to work for five hours, and it’s already eight o’clock, with 3.5 hours of homework it’s eleven thirty by the time they finish. And then they’re expected to get up at seven o’clock in the morning and do it all over again!
This leaves no time for students to peruse extracurricular, physical activity, time with friends and family, and time to just hang around and accomplish nothing, all of which is extremely important to the mental and physical health of all human beings, not just students.
Too much homework can have negative effects on a student’s mental health. 1 in 5 students reportedly suffer from rising levels of anxiety, stress, and depression when dealing with homework. Problems like anxiety and stress can quickly lead to further health issues that can affect students in all areas of their lives. Stress and anxiety can lead to heart disease, asthma, obesity, headaches, and the list goes on.
There is, of course, the issue of students dragging their heels when it comes to getting a homework assignment or project done. While a major problem, it’s not the main problem. Students often procrastinate because they have other things to do, so this next project needs to be pushed on the back burner I’ll complete it later.
Procrastination is a problem, yes, but the hours of homework students are expected to complete a night is the true problem. Teachers should try to understand that their students are expected to have lives outside of school, and if their students have three hours of homework at night, that’s not possible.