Tiffani Harper, a nursing student at the University of Central Florida, takes notes as she demonstrates her Personalized Learning web courses at UCF on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. ((Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/TNS))
Tiffani Harper, a nursing student at the University of Central Florida, takes notes as she demonstrates her Personalized Learning web courses at UCF on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015.

(Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

STAFF ED: A Better Way to Do Homework

The Globe staff comments on current homework structures and possible alternatives.

November 13, 2018

“Oh, you´re taking Honors Physics? You´re going to cry every night.”

“If you take four AP classes, you can say goodbye to your mental health.”

These are just a few of the things Clayton students hear as they start the school year, talking about the amount of homework they will get each night.

Homework is one of the biggest stress factors for high school students in the US and all over the world.

But why?

Shouldn´t school and extra learning be beneficial to students instead of detrimental to their health?

¨[I dropped Honors Physics because] I had field hockey, I was taking two others honors classes, and I had an average of four hours of homework every day. I was up till about 11:30 p.m. each night,¨ said Ana Meyers, a freshman at Clayton who took Honors Physics and dropped it. ¨When I transferred [to regular Physics], I had an F, and I have all As and Bs in my other classes.¨

An overload of homework can cause not only stress, but a decrease in students’ GPA, and too much in one class can prevent them from doing work in their other classes.

Leah Levenson, a junior at CHS said, “Often, I won’t be able to do homework in other classes because I´ll be so busy doing stuff for classes that give more homework.¨

Although teachers in America try to solve the problem of misunderstanding in class through assigning more and more homework, it leaves the students with much more homework in every class and a lot of stress every night.

Over 70 percent of Clayton students have three or more hours of homework a night, leaving minimal time for other things.

The average amount of CHS students sleep each night is seven hours–that’s two and a half less than is needed for a productive night’s rest.

If you spend eight hours of your day at school, two after school for sports practice or play rehearsal, plus an hour for any other activities you might have — whether it is a job, club or lesson, then an hour for dinner, and then have three, probably more, hours of homework, what does that leave you?

Two hours.

To spend time with your family?

To do community service, which is required to get into NHS and most colleges?

To do anything else to relax, and not be thinking about the sheer velocity of work that still needs to be done?

It’s no wonder Generation Z has the most teens with anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses, standing at just one in five.

There has to be a better way to do homework. Luckily, Finland has solved that problem.

They have almost abolished homework and students who do receive homework are no younger than seventh graders.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam, taken by students all over the world, showed that Finland was in the top five for highest test scores in reading and science, and in the top fifteen for math.

This was a stark comparison to the US, whose highest placement was 24th, in reading.

Although this might not be directly correlated to the amount of homework schools assign, other studies also show that the US is certainly falling behind the more modern countries who are working to eliminate homework.

If the teachers in the US focused more on teaching and practicing in class instead of relying on students to learn material outside of class, like teachers in Finland, the amount of homework students receive could be cut drastically.

Not only would this benefit students by allowing them more sleep, peace of mind and time for other things in their life, but it could also be good for teachers, and allow them to grade less and focus more on curating the best lesson plan to create less homework.

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