The Dynamics of Homework in High Schools in America

According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education, 4,317 students in ten high performing California schools — six private and four public — had an average of 3.1 hours of homework a night. There has been debate surrounding what the appropriate amount of homework for a student, research shows different outcomes, thus continues the debate about the appropriate amount of homework students should receive. Studies show that students learn differently and homework can be very beneficial, but most studies show that work done in class is retained at a higher clip than most homework assignments. I believe homework should decrease as you get to more advanced classes and homework should increase for the less advanced classes instead of the other way around. Homework has quality intentions, such as learning, retaining, and practicing knowledge; unfortunately homework has side effects that aren’t being accounted for such as stress, depression, and alienation from society.

Stress is one of the biggest side effects of homework. Homework can sometimes make or break a student’s grade which is the main reason for the stress. An average high school student has six to seven classes per day, an average core class gives approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour of homework a day. When you take your core classes plus electives you end up with three to four hours of homework per night. When students receive that much homework, rather than focusing on it and really learning from it, most students go into the “I just need to get this done” mode. As students, we are no longer learning, rather more focused on just completing parts to receive more marks in the gradebook.

Homework has potential to lead to physical problems and severe long-term health issues. Homework has been proven to lead to headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems. Some of these consequences can affect a body long-term. Loss of sleep is one of the main outcomes of homework which is then hurting the students learning for the following day because lack of sleep doesn’t let your brain fully concentrate or take in information which then makes you have more homework to learn the material. Sleep is also essential to retaining knowledge, it takes sleep to move a memory into your long-term memory, if students aren’t able to get quality sleep then the learning is only temporary.

Students with a large amount of homework have little or no time for leisure. Students are spending so much time preparing for adulthood and the future that they forget to take care of themselves in the present. It is quite hypercritical the way that society expects students to join extracurriculars such as sports, band, or clubs while also maintaining their academic responsibilities. Technically, you only have 18 years to be a kid, why are we rushing students to spend all of this time to prepare for adulthood?

We have discussed many negative consequences of homework such as excess stress, physical problems, and little or no time for leisure. Homework is decreasing in effectiveness as students are getting older and not helping students but rather hurting their physical and emotional selves. I personally believe that the focus of homework needs to turn the corner, there needs to be less focus on the amount of time it will take for a student to complete an assignment and teachers need to emphasize learning a specific concept rather than perfecting an assignment or answering a certain number of questions. Once society starts to put more pressure on curriculum to focus less on busy work and more on learning there will be more emphasis on students health and overall well-being.