Excessive homework negatively impacts mental health, causes unnecessary stress

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Caroline Lou

Opinion Editor Jula Utzschneider writes on the overwhelming chip on every student’s shoulder: homework.

Jula Utzschneider, Opinion Editor

When the bell rings to end last period every day, I feel a sense of relief. However, this feeling soon wears off as I realize just how much work I have to do after the already-stressful school day ends.

While homework can be beneficial, more often than not, it is assigned excessively and unnecessarily. Teachers give a significant amount of homework, often due the next day. This causes students to spend far too much time doing such assignments and can be detrimental.

A 2013 study conducted at Stanford University found that students in top-performing school districts who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance in their lives and alienation from society. That study, published in The Journal of Experimental Education, suggested that any more than two hours of homework per night is counterproductive. However, students who participated in the study reported doing slightly more than three hours of homework every night.

And, yes, the amount of homework given to students depends on the course level they take. But, with increasingly competitive college acceptance rates (demanding more extracurriculars and college-level classes), many students feel forced to take these more challenging courses. This is a huge problem, especially as teachers give homework only thinking about their own class, not the five or six others students have.

Additionally, when it came to stress, more than 70% of students in the Stanford study said they were “often or always stressed over schoolwork,” with 56% listing homework as a primary stressor. More than 80% of students reported having at least one stress-related symptom (such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, stomach problems and more) in the past month, and 44% said they had experienced three or more symptoms. 

Less than 1% of the students said homework was not a stressor, demonstrating that the vast majority feel overwhelmed and pressured by the amount of work they receive.

Not to mention, the time spent on these assignments could easily be spent doing something enjoyable. Many students feel forced or obligated to choose homework over practicing other talents or skills, which should never be the case. Teachers should be encouraging these extracurriculars, rather than making it impossible for students to partake in them.

In terms of what teachers can do, it’s quite simple, really. Homework is intended for students to either practice a subject further or to cover topics teachers couldn’t during the allotted class time. It should not be busywork that just wastes a student’s time. 

Teachers should be giving students work that is absolutely necessary (not busy work), and eliminate it altogether where they can. It is extremely important that students not only get through high school but thrive and enjoy it too.

 

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