Is Homework Actually BAD for You?

Hailey Schlotthauer, Staff Writer

It’s the second week back at school; we are at the point where teachers are not taking it easy on us anymore, and the pile of work keeps adding up. Everyone is having a hard time adjusting, especially with homework.

Homework is an issue that is frequently debated; will a student learn more by shifting their focus to the class and the lesson at hand, rather than being bombarded with busy work? Or is homework the most efficient way to practice and reiterate what is being taught in the classroom? Even if so, isn’t two plus hours of homework for one class too much?

If we break down the time it takes to do homework for each class, saying an average of one hour per class, you have around five hours of homework. To be more realistic, given the fact we don’t have every class every day, you might say it only takes you between two or three hours for regular homework. But then factor in any essays you might have to work on, on top of your reading for class, any math tests, on top of your review packet you have due, you are getting back up to five hours.

Our own ODA student handbook states, “High school students will have 90-120 minutes per night.” Mr. Seldis, Assistant Upper School Division Head, add that if you have AP or honors, your amount of homework might exceed that time period. Workload also depends on schedule and when you are given the assignment and when it is due.

The Association… in its article about homework, notes that attitudes about homework have shifted over the years: 

“Throughout the first few decades of the 20th century, educators commonly believed that homework helped create disciplined minds. By 1940, growing concern that homework interfered with other home activities sparked a reaction against it. This trend was reversed in the late 1950s when the Soviets’ launch of Sputnik led to concern that U.S. education lacked rigor; schools viewed more rigorous homework as a partial solution to the problem. By 1980, the trend had reversed again, with some learning theorists claiming that homework could be detrimental to students’ mental health. Since then, impassioned arguments for and against homework have continued to proliferate.” 

Differences of opinions are also evident in our own school.

“In math, it’s the only way to figure out if you can handle to concepts. I try to give at least some class time so it doesn’t fall outside of class, ODA kids are so dadgum busy,” says math teacher Debbie Frye.

History teacher Michelle Timothy offers additional perspective for limiting homework:

“For history, my reasoning is philosophical. I believe there is enough done in class where there isn’t anything else left that is needed to be done home. You guys are so busy too, with athletics, volunteers, some having jobs, plus family responsibilities there isn’t any time. If I am effective in my own class, you should be challenged, gain knowledge without me interfering with your outside life.”

“With AP there is no choice. The speed of the class goes by so fast where you need to give homework.”

In contrast, English teacher Mrs. Betz feels she gives out a fair amount of homework.

“For me, in English classes that mostly consist of reading, and that’s in order to prep for the next class period. To do more in class, and focus on what they are learning about rather than reading in class and wasting time. Other homework are essay assignments, but those aren’t as often. Giving homework enables me to make the most efficient use of my time in class.”

Do these views align with students though? Junior Nicole Petron had a different opinion regarding her first AP class.

“It’s a lot more to handle. I always do my homework, but normally it’s only a few pages of reading and maybe some math problems. Now taking an AP, it’s a ton of reading along with taking notes and clearly understanding the reading (which is normally 25 pages) because we will most likely have a quiz the next day. I am only taking one AP, which is why I feel this pressure to do well and not drop it because some of my friends are taking two or three AP’s and doing very well. Well, with the grades, they always seem overwhelmed.

While national research and actual practice at ODA have a wide spectrum of views on the issue of homework, the practice of assigning work after school hours most likely won’t be going away. 

Get busy.