Letter to Students and Staff: Appeal for Less Homework

Dylan Romzek, Guest Writer

Dear Students and Staff:

Timmy is your average freshman student athlete. He has practice every day after school until 5:30 p.m. When he gets home around 6 o’clock, he eats a quick meal with his family and then rushes upstairs to do his homework. By the time Timmy is done, it’s about 9 o’clock, and now he finally has time to relax and watch TV. There is little time in that overflowing schedule to hang out with family or friends, and Timmy probably won’t end up going to bed until nearly midnight, resulting in a measly six hours of sleep. Research done by Nationwide Children’s Hospital shows that teenagers need to get 9+ hours of sleep, 50 percent more than poor Timmy gets. Due to the lack of free time and sleep and the excessive expectations, Timmy will develop high levels of stress. As reported by the Huffington Post, “31 percent of teens report feeling overwhelmed as a result of stress, 30 percent say that they feel sad or depressed as a result of stress, and 36 percent report feeling tired or fatigued because of stress.” About three quarters of students believe they have too much homework as well, according to a survey done at Neenah High School. This is clearly a big problem, and one of the simplest ways to make it better is to give less homework to these stressed out teens. Teachers must reduce the amount of homework they are assigning, as it will allow teenagers to have more free time to mitigate stress, and it will allow them to participate in extracurriculars such as sports or music.

Even faced with the clear benefits, many adults advocate for homework because it allegedly enhances education; however, less homework would allow kids to have more free time to handle their stress, and kids with less stress can learn more. The average high schooler spends about one to two hours on homework every day, and with sport or music practices and the seven hours of school, there is little time to hang out with friends or family. A recent survey of students at Neenah High School showed that 74.2% of students believe they have too much homework. Of those students, 100% said that the excessive amounts of homework cause stress. Although a little stress is important, too much can have negative implications, and high schoolers have many reasons to be stressed out. On top of the high levels of academic stress with the immense homework load, there is an extreme level of social stress to fit in and be cool. Excessive stress can even lead to depression and, in severe cases, self harm or even suicide. It has been proven that spending quality time with friends and family is a huge stress reliever, but it is difficult to do that when you have too much homework. One Neenah student, Joshua Schultz, told me about his homework situation: “It’s stressful man, we have to have this letter done Monday [for ELA], and an eight paragraph essay in social studies we literally got yesterday [Thursday] due Tuesday. In that same class we have to do a one page summary and a one page reflection about a book due Friday.” No teacher should be giving an eight paragraph essay due in five days, and two one page papers on top, in one class. If even two or three teachers were to do that on a regular basis, kids would have no free time whatsoever. Even one chunk of assignments like that can cut into a kid’s freetime, heightening stress levels and lowering learning potential. With a reduced amount of homework, kids will be able to enjoy themselves, diminish stress, and learn more.

Furthermore, homework loads need to be reduced is so that high schoolers can participate in extracurricular activities. Many kids have to sacrifice extracurricular activities so that they have time for homework. A good friend of mine, Cullin Hayes, a junior, quit band after freshman year because he had no time to practice with the exorbitant amount of homework he had. Cullin also runs cross country, plays baseball, and skis in the winter. With the two to three hours of homework he has every single night, how in the world is he supposed to do that? At the beginning of freshman year, the launch leaders and teachers repeatedly told us to “get involved” and join a club or sport, yet how are we supposed to have time for a club or sport when we are given two plus hours of homework per day? It simply doesn’t make sense. Homework advocates claim that homework allows kids to learn more, but there is more to life than math, English and history. Sports and clubs help students build friendships and develop teamwork and other real life skills that are not taught in your standard core classes. High school sports are also a perfect way to get exercise. The previously mentioned survey by the Huffington Post also found that “one in five teens reports exercising less than once a week or not at all, despite the proven stress-relieving benefits of physical activity.” Perhaps if so much of their time was not sucked up by homework, then they would find time to exercise, be it through sports or simply playing outside with friends. Without the stress of excessive amounts of homework and with some added stress relieving activity, high schoolers would be a much happier bunch. This could lead to better performance on tests, lower depression rates, and less complaints about “moody” teenagers from parents. High school kids would also be much more well rounded if they are able to expose themselves to different experiences. If homework levels were to go down, kids would be able to participate in more extracurricular activities.

In order to reduce stress, teachers need to lessen the homework load of high school students. It is possible that if Timmy had less homework, he would be able to get to sleep earlier, hang out with friends, and generally have less stress in his life. A less stressed Timmy could get a better GPA, score higher on the ACT, and consequently get into college easier, and cheaper, as many colleges provide scholarships for high ACT scores and GPAs. It is possible that Cullin could still be playing the trombone if he had less homework. It is possible that all sorts of high school kids could enjoy the liberation from some of their burdening stress if they had less homework. Even teachers could benefit as they would not have to grade as much work. Anyone who ever has to interact with high schoolers could benefit as less stressed teenagers tend to have better attitudes. Presented with the data and logic before us, we can conclude that the best course of action to reduce stress in teenagers is to reduce the amount of homework that high schoolers are assigned. We can do this by having a conversation with teachers about how homework affects students, and to make sure that teachers understand how much time kids really spend on homework.

Dylan Romzek, freshman