How many times do elementary, middle, and high school students find themselves climbing into bed at 2:00 a.m. because they were up into the wee hours of the morning finishing their homework? Pulling all-nighters to finish homework is also a common occurrence among students. Homework has become an immense, monotonous task of hours instead of the reinforcement of what students learned in class that it was designed to be. In all schools, homework should be banned because it is mainly busy work, deprives children of basic necessities they need, and adds unnecessary stress into students’ lives.
Busy work is ridiculous. Students do not need this worthless work in their lives, yet it is always hovering, snatching up hours of their precious time for no reason at all. Most teachers of the 21st century feel a need to put in a certain amount of grades every week, so what do they do? Of course, the impeccable plan these life-sucking teachers come up with is busy work. Work assigned to just earn a grade in the grade book does nothing but frustrate students. Busy work does not even “impart anything of educational value to a student,” and most students end up collaborating (a.k.a “cheating”) (Morin). Teachers argue that busy work does not take up a lot of time, but if all eight teachers a student has decide to send home 30 minutes of busy work at the same time, the student is left with four hours of fill-in-the-blank and true or false questions. These four hours of work leave little time for students’ lives outside of school.
The homework teachers give students adds up and deprives them of basic necessities. The amount of work students take home usually ends up directly coinciding with their hours of sleep. Every average Joe knows young children need more sleep than adults, but teenagers not getting their needed amount of rest is also a major area of concern. Teenage sleep deprivation is an epidemic in the United States, with up to 90% of teenagers not getting enough shut eye on school nights. Hours of homework coupled with early high school start times are the biggest culprits to blame. In addition to staying up late, older students find themselves having trouble sleeping at all. High schoolers are hardwired to go to bed later, yet they do not have the luxury of sleeping in late. In fact, teenagers actually have to get up earlier for school than younger students because they have earlier start times (Canapari). Piles upon piles of homework also infringes upon students’ needed quality time with friends and family. Vicki Abeles, author of the bestselling book Beyond Measure: Rescuing an Overscheduled, Overtested, Underestimated Generation, has a son who is a senior in high school with a moderate course load. She has firsthand experience with homework encroaching upon her and her son’s life:
Zak has spent many weekends studying, finding little time for the exercise and fresh air essential to his well-being. Week after week,
and without any extra-curriculars, he logs a lot more than the 40 hours adults traditionally work each week — and with no recognition
from his “bosses” that it’s too much. I can’t count the number of shared evenings, weekend outings, and dinners that our family has
missed and will never get back (Abeles).
Zak despises the overwhelming amount of homework he has each night:
"I feel like I’m working towards my death. The constant demands on my time since 5th grade are just going to continue
through graduation, into college, and then into my job. It’s like I’m on an endless treadmill with no time for living (Abeles).
Like Zak, many children and teenagers face the dilemma of too much to do and not enough time. They have to balance many parts of their lives—school, sports, clubs, plays, hobbies, volunteer work, church, family, friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, social media, and (of course) homework. Students have to choose which parts of their lives to focus on every day, and homework should not be an option on their list. The demanding work takes up too much of students’ precious time and is a detriment to other important sides of them that cannot develop.
Elementary, middle, and high school students attend school for an average of seven hours each day, yet they still have stress from school dragging down their backpacks. Why not leave school at school? Homework is a leading cause of stress in children and teenagers. Students’ daily loads bring out anxiety about grades and can even start depression. There have to be benefits to make this horrendous torture of kids legal, right? Spoiler alert—not exactly. Harris Cooper of Duke University studied the effect of homework on children over the course of 16 years: He surveyed 120 studies on the efficacy of homework from 1987-2003 and reviewed another 60 studies in 2006, finding that giving high school kids less than two hours of daily homework only moderately furthers their education (Canapari).
Cooper also found that middle school students only benefit from a small amount of homework, while elementary school students had absolutely no academic benefit from homework—but the frustrating assignments did make them, along with the rest of the students, have negative feelings towards school (Canapari). A negative attitude towards school, especially early on in the lives of students, can develop into not wanting to learn. This stand against learning some students take can lead to worse academic achievement.
Homework should be ousted from schools. Students’ daily loads consist mainly of busy work, steal essential life experiences, and cause unnecessary stress. Leaving the stress of homework behind would allow children and teens to appreciate life. Students’ mindsets about school could transform with a no homework policy; instead of dreading a third of their day, they might start to enjoy walking into class. Besides, what good will homework do for students if they are stressed, sleep deprived, and depressed?