It's all over the news: kids are spending a lot of time on homework. And, according to some, it's way too much. With the current emphasis on high-stakes testing, educators are trying to do more with less, which can result in an overabundance of schoolwork outside of school. Some critics say there is no evidence to suggest that homework is helpful to student achievement; on the contrary, too much of it can overwhelm students and cause them to disengage. Others, however, claim that homework is necessary and helpful, designed so students can practice the concepts taught in class, build good study habits, and reflect on their own learning.
As an 8th grade student who is in advanced classes, I think that homework is the cause of my depleting grades. Now, you’re probably going to think that I’m like any other kid in middle school that hates homework and that to even spend another second reading this will be a complete waste of time, right? Even so, just hear me out because I have several reasons that might just change your mind.
I have thousands of assignments every week; most of them homework assignments. As a result, I’m cascaded with homework every day, causing me to stay up until 11 o’clock at night more often than not. Obviously, this is a threat to my health as a developing teenager. It could stunt my growth, and result in fatigue and stress because everyone knows that no good sleep leads to no good grades. Even if I were to go to bed at a decent time, my homework wouldn’t be finished. Either way is a couldesack at the end of a road.
Stress is very unhealthy for growing teens and statistics show that 29% of 13-year-old students report spending 2 hours or more on homework daily in the U.S. Isn’t that a bit much? More homework means more stress. Stress can cause many things including: lack of sleep, slipping grades, fatigue, unhealthy eating habits, depression, and many more other factors. A teen should not have to face depression at such a young age.
So why do teenagers still have so much homework?
One of the answers to that is that teachers often have children covering material at home by themselves that they do not discuss during school time at all. Of course, the teacher's reasoning for this is that there aren't enough hours in the day and he/she wants to cover more territory on a certain subject. But being taught how to do something by a piece of paper just isn’t the same as being taught by an actual human being. The teacher can explain things a different way if someone doesn’t grasp how to do something or they can respond to questions about the subject for better learning.
I couldn’t even count how many kids just take the easy way out and disengage from the homework given at my school. They refuse to do homework and it’s lowering their grades. But I can’t blame them because I ask myself on a daily basis why I don’t just quit already and join the rest of the crowd.
I could actually have a life then instead of doing homework all day. I could participate in extra curricular activities like I used to when I participated in lacrosse but now I can’t because my grades are slipping due to not finishing homework. I could do fun things instead of homework because it keeps me cooped up inside like a prisoner in a jail cell and I hate it!
Statistics even show that kids who participated in an extra curricular activity have less stress. The only thing is, is that they have less time for homework too. Homework takes away all of my free time to spend with friends and family; where I can just forget about all of my worries for an hour or two.
The amount of homework that teachers give sometimes is ridiculous and unnecessary. Homework can cause stress, depression, lower grades, and less time to do extra curricular activities or hang out with friends, so teachers, could you please not get so excited about homework next time?
I can definitely empathize - I have dealt with a combination of anxiety / poor concentration that has been similarly crippling. Mine often led to suicidal thoughts as the last stage of a process of anxious withdrawal from work. The larger the assignment, the worse it would be...
I don't have all the answers (does anyone?) but I can offer these suggestions:
- if your campus has a health/wellness center, it is definitely a place worth going to for multiple reasons. they probably have study skills resources for anxiety and procrastination, which are a very widespread problem, even if other people don't get it as bad as we might. bipolar may present the problem, but learning to master the trigger as much as you can via good study habits will get you a long way in dealing with this. Don't expect perfection! but, I imagine that if you are receptive to any guidance counseling or tip sheets (so so many tip sheets are out there, you must sift through the information to find what works for you) that you receive, you will be able to work out a method that at lease decreases the current amounts of anxiety and time-sink that you have.
- the health center may also have information on accommodations your school may be able to offer people with documented medical conditions (we do fall under that category). Depending on your circumstance, this could lead to additional test time, easier dialogues with your professors, financial assistance for meds, or even free counseling (all of these at your discretion, of course). definitely find this place and explore your options!
- in my experience, you should not be afraid to open up to your professors. i do go to a small school, so if you have 300 person lecture classes take this with a grain of salt. lately, bipolar disorder has been both more prevalent in college students and much more truthfully perceived in general. I am sure that many, if not most, college professors have had previous encounters with students suffering from our types of problems, and if they haven't I'm sure they know of colleagues who have. They'll never understand why you have these difficulties or be able to help you if you don't tell them - so tell them! You have a real issue, not another case of unmotivated party disease. Besides all of the above: they truly are there to help you learn, in whatever way that requires. The courage is hard to muster, but every time I have done so I have been pleasantly (and gratefully) surprised by the understanding responses my professors gave me.
- as previously mentioned: get hooked up with a pdoc as soon as you can, and please please consider medication! for bipolar of course, as it is the best prevention, but also for anxiety. is a common co-diagnosis, and therefore co-prescription.
- finally, if you can, consider lightening your courseload: not necessarily permanently, but until you get everything straightened out and into a more stable place. semesters only get harder as they go on, both from semester 1 to semester 8 and from the start of term until the end of term, and it is sneakily easy to get caught between a rock and a very hard place. For us, that is a very bad thing. If you drop (or audit! auditing is great!) a course you can come back and get later, or that isn't a requirement, it could save you a lot of worry in the short term and health in the long term.