Unnecessary homework hinders learning


Svyatoslav Lypynskyy

A stressed out student studies in the library.


Homework is a beneficial learning tool when assigned properly. However, this rarely occurs. The trend has become to overwork students to the point where homework becomes almost entirely invaluable. 

Homework can be employed positively. A report done by the U.S Department of Education states, “students who complete more homework score better on standardized tests and earn better grades, on the average, than do students who do less homework.” 

Homework also teaches study habits, furthers class learning, and gives parents an opportunity to see what their kids are learning. Although many students wish they didn’t have homework, most also acknowledge its benefits. Problems occur when the homework stops benefiting students. This is not an argument against homework. This is an argument which begs teachers to prioritize the well-being of students.

So, when does homework become a hindrance? It becomes a hindrance when it stops being a reinforcement of learning and becomes assigned busywork.  At this point, students begin to lose sleep over pointless assignments and feel pressure to rush through work. Instead of being ready for class, as homework intends, students go into class sleep-deprived and stressed. The other option is to go to bed, but this can harm students’ grades. Kids shouldn’t have to make a choice between their health and their grades. 

Teachers need to be understanding of the value of time for teenagers. Ask a student how many times they have skipped a meal because they thought they had too much work. Ask that student how many times in the past week they got the necessary nine hours of sleep. Ask them the last time they got in a fight with their parents about staying up too late to finish the work for their class. Can you really look at a high school student and tell them that homework is beneficial when they are physically suffering? 

It’s become the norm to hear about teenagers being stressed about homework. That’s just what teenagers do; they stress.  But how has it become normal for kids to bond over how stressed they are? High school should be a time of emotional growth, not decline. This system is clearly wrong, yet when students try to talk to adults about the issue, they are unreceptive and apathetic.

This is not to say all teachers are unfair in the amount of homework they give. Some teachers are understanding of  students’ other commitments and accept late work with no penalty, or put a restriction on the time that can be spent on homework. In these classes, homework is beneficial because it is less about a deadline, and more about focusing on actual learning.

On the flip side, in classes where teachers give too much homework and are not understanding, homework becomes a chore, and little to no knowledge is retained.

It is crucial for students to be open to talking about problems with their teachers, and vice-versa. Of course I don’t expect teachers to customize homework to fit the needs of every individual, but if a group tells a teacher that their method of homework does not work for them, then they deserve to be heard. 

The amount of unnecessary homework given to students clearly leads to physical, mental, and academic decline. Our schools need to re-evaluate the workload given to kids. All teachers should ask themselves daily: will this assignment reinforce my students’ learning, or take away from learning in another class? Always consider the well-being of a student before the well-being of your gradebook.