Most high-school students can agree that homework isn’t exactly the thing we look forward to most when returning from summer vacation. Even so, since we are all responsible students (and none of us really want to go to homework catch-up club), we do it anyways. But the question is: how important is homework? Or rather, should we even have to do it at all?

In general, homework is meant to provide students with some sort of study material. And since the majority of schools give out homework, the advantages must heavily outweigh the disadvantages, right? Well, not necessarily.

First of all, according to an article by Harris Cooper, professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University, 9th graders should receive “3–5 assignments a week, each lasting 45–75 minutes,” and 10-12th graders should receive “4–5 assignments a week, each lasting 75–120 minutes.”

Research conducted by an education scholar, Denise Pope, shows that high-school students should be doing 90 minutes to 150 minutes of homework each night, and the National Education Association in America clearly states that, “a student should be assigned no more than 10 minutes per grade level per night.” (1st grade have 10 minutes, 2nd grade have 20 minutes, 9th grade have 90 minutes, etc). So, for all high-schoolers, you should not be doing any more than 90-120 minutes each night.

Pope’s research also shows how high-schoolers are overworking themselves. They sent a survey to over 4000 students in 10 different “high-performing” high-schools. On average, the students said that they do 3.1 hours of homework each night; so, way over the recommended amount. Fifty-six percent of these students said that homework is their main source of stress, and less than 1% of them said that homework didn’t stress them out. But is stress in high-school really that big of a deal? Yes, yes it is.

The research also found that many students made a connection between their homework and health problems, including “headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems.” William Crane, Ph.D. and professor of psychology, states that “Kids are developing more school-related stomachaches, headaches, sleep problems, and depression than ever before.” So yes, homework load can result in serious problems. And according to an article by Lauren Miller on Huffington Post, they found no statistical connections between an increase of homework and the improvement of students’ grades. Rather, Pope’s researchers said that an overload of homework prevented the students from “meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills.”

Pope herself made a point that although a lot of homework may seem to help students in more “competitive” situations, too much can have negative effects on students’ general health and approaches to their learning, stating “…Any homework assigned should have a purpose and benefit, and it should be designed to cultivate learning and development.”

An article written by student, Amedee Martella, expresses a belief that homework assignments involving topics that the students have not previously studied will over-stress the students and the parents, who may have to try to teach their children the new information. Therefore, the author believes that homework given for the purpose of class revision should be done “with few, if any, difficulties.” The author concludes that they see the value in homework, but believe that the specific homework activities should be reviewed by teachers to make sure they are doable, so students will not stress and spend too much time on their homework.

As for me, I think I have to side with Martella on this whole “homework issue.” In an ideal world, none of us would have to do any work, and our lives would run themselves. Key-word: ideal. Do I see the importance of homework? Of course. But do I enjoy spending a lot of time on it? To an extent. What I mean is: yes, of course, homework gets tedious, and sometimes even I find myself asking, “Why can’t we just not get homework?” And personally, I don’t think we should unless it’s for the sake of deepening your understanding of class material.

Like Martella, I’d say that the problems with homework result due to the homework activities themselves, and not necessarily the load of homework. Plus, homework shouldn’t be seen as something mandatory. I know that it’s seen that way because teachers may feel responsible for their student’s education. But I believe that high-school students should be developing a sense of independence by completing homework activities or revision when they wish. Their commitment to their homework will easily be reflected in their grades. And overall, I think students will be able to enjoy a more well-rounded lifestyle if they’re able to balance school work and free time.

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