Michael Melinger is a Senior at Clayton High School. This is his fourth year on the Globe. He currently serves as the Chief Multimedia Editor for the Globe. This is his third...
STAFF ED: Got Homework?
The Globe comments on Kirkwood High School’s experiment with a new “no weekend homework” policy as an attempt to alleviate pressure on student and teacher mental health.
April 8, 2018
On the weekends following February 19 and March 9, Kirkwood High School students had one less worry due to a newly enacted no-weekend-homework policy. These two weekends functioned as an experiment as part of an initiative to improve both student and teacher mental health.
In order to enforce this policy, students could report teachers who attempted to assign homework over the weekend. In addition, teachers were not allowed to front-load or back-load, meaning that they could not assign homework due right when the students return from the weekend or assign a large amount of homework right before the weekend.
KHS principal Mike Havener explained that this policy arises from the recent increase in the number of kids seeking counseling and the increase in the number of kids dealing with anxiety and depression.
Although Havener believes that homework has a purpose, he also recognizes the need to respect students’ extracurricular activities, after-school jobs, and responsibilities at home. KHS students, parents, and faculty are hopeful that this new homework policy will relieve stress and consequently reduce the level of anxiety and depression the students feel.
This homework policy also aims benefits teachers, as it hopefully lightens the load that the teachers must grade over the weekend.
KHS’s steps to improve students and teacher mental health not only demonstrates the Kirkwood School District’s advanced actions, but also highlights the lack of action taken at CHS so far to improve its members’ mental health.
Although CHS has attempted similar homework policies in the past in an effort to allow students to dedicate themselves to different activities for a brief period of time, these efforts have rarely had a beneficial effect on student and teacher mental health. The school’s attempt to lighten students’ homework load during Homecoming Week in order to encourage more participation in Homecoming activities, generally results in a disregard for this policy and a normal week of homework for students.
The Clayton School District has also taken some initiative to benefit student mental health, by hiring Dr. Sheila Powell-Walker as a school social worker for CHS and Wydown Middle School.
Despite the benefits of no-homework weekends, KHS senior Claire Lin observed that the policy merely repositioned the stress of homework, rather than alleviate it.
“Over the weekend, I definitely felt that students were more relaxed, just because we didn’t have the pressure of having to work on homework all the time, but at the same time, the weeks bookending the weekend of no homework were kind of extra busy, because I feel like teachers were trying to wrap up stuff before the weekend and trying to catch up after we had the no-homework weekend,” Lin said.
Still, Lin appreciated the positive effects of having a homework-free weekend, and was grateful that the policy allowed her to dedicate more energy and focus to her other passions.
Given that the first of the no-homework weekends fell on the MSHSAA Girls’ Swimming and Diving State Championship, Lin was able to swim at the meet without thinking about her schoolwork.
“It was really nice to be able to focus on the things that I was doing that weekend 100% rather than having homework hanging over my head the whole time,” Lin said.
While a realistic and efficient homework policy may still be in progress, we, the Globe, strive to prioritize mental health. We hope to encourage all CHS students and staff to place their own mental health at the forefront of their lives. Although schoolwork can often become overwhelming, we aim to initiate conversations about improving mental health.
*91% of the Globe staff agrees with the content of this article.