A Study Guide on Homework

A look into how our education system tackles homework and other alternatives to lighten the burden


photo by Julia Poppa

Long days at school are too often followed by longs nights of homework. Is there another way?

Homework, homework, some studying, and then, more homework.

The start of a new school year naturally brings a lot of conversation about student stress. Of course, there are many factors that play into such a topic — school start times, competition among peers, and testing. But perhaps the biggest thing currently exhausting high school kids is homework.

Most students just don’t have the time to keep up with their hours of homework, be involved in clubs and activities, eat dinner, and get a good night’s sleep. It’s physically impossible. There are only so many hours in a day; school takes up most of them. 

Not to mention, even if kids did have time to complete their pile of lengthy assignments, the sheer amount could still be damaging. A study conducted at Stanford University found that students who are in competitive environments and spend too much time doing homework actually experience physical health issues and feel removed from society. 

There are only so many hours in a day; school takes up most of them. ”

Simply, it’s a system that’s stacked against students, and it’s particularly damaging to those who wish to seek higher education in their future. If they aren’t involved with activities, they look bland on a college application. If they don’t take all those challenging classes that require a large amount of homework, they quickly fall behind.

They can work as hard as they want in class. They can get perfect test scores. Yet, homework is still a burden.

Obviously, homework is still valuable. It reinforces lessons and understanding, but too much of it can turn toxic. That’s why our school, and our education system as a whole, needs to re-examine it. We need a reform of sorts.

One option that helps relieve some stress (and shows students how to budget their time) is optional homework assignments. Giving credit to those who completed their homework and exempting those who didn’t prevents teachers from punishing a student who simply didn’t have the time or feel the need to practice a lesson they already felt confident in.

This is the system AP Chemistry teachers Mr. Long and Mr. Davis utilize.

“I came up with this scheme probably ten, twelve years ago,” Mr. Davis said. “It would give the students who want to do homework the ability to be rewarded. I think this method takes care of everything. It gives everyone the opportunity to benefit.”

Most students really do appreciate such an opportunity. Junior Anna Ceccarelli said, “I think having optional weekly homework definitely reduces the stress. I know I can get it done.”

Additionally, these homework assignments are usually spread out across the course of a few days or a week, allowing students to choose the best time to complete them based on their schedules and other class requirements. This approach teaches balance and time management.

As Mr. Davis added, “Hopefully, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

That idea’s not the only way to create a dent in the homework crisis. Something as simple as not assigning homework on weekends would make a huge difference. Many students are willing to put in the hard work but need a break to look forward to. It would help to keep them going and provide a light at the end of the tunnel that’s not in June. It’s amazing what two nights of rest can do for your brain and stress levels.

After all, it’s nearly impossible to enjoy learning if it involves several hours of unnecessary stress every single night.”

Actually, many core classes could do without traditional homework altogether. There are many other creative ways for students to demonstrate and reinforce how much they know. Teachers could try to give kids the reins and have them think of a personal assignment. High school students are mature enough to do so. 

Let kids who love art draw a poster. Let the writers turn in a short essay or article. That’s how you ensure a student is willing to learn — you make it anything other than dreadful. Allow students to put their passions into their work. Make it individual. Make it meaningful. Make it matter by giving it a purpose. 

Anything less falls short of students’ and teachers’ potential, as well as of this high-quality education we’re all trying to pursue. 

To be clear, this isn’t an editorial asking teachers to cut their students slack, because no matter what, we will continue to work hard. It’s simply a reminder that every student has multiple classes and a life outside of NASH’s four walls. It’s a request to be reasonable — to show some sense of understanding.

Because, yes, homework is important. It will always be a part of high school culture, and it will unavoidably cause stress. However, there are ways to minimize its burden, and if our school wants to keep its students thriving and happy, it has to do so. After all, it’s nearly impossible to enjoy learning if it involves several hours of unnecessary stress every single night.

So, let’s do better.