By Hannah Katz
Students are stressed, there is no denying that. Two a.m is an early bedtime, a night off is unheard of, and when I asked students approximately how much homework they had per night, the average amount was four hours and 45 minutes. That is enough time to watch almost 13 episodes of Friends, or to drive to Cincinnati.
According to a study conducted by the American Psychology Association, the levels of stress put on teens far exceeds that of adults, or what is believed to be healthy in general. There is a fundamental need to reduce the stress levels of teenagers for the sake of their health and well-being, and I propose that the first step of that is to reduce the amount of homework given to students.
This isn’t just an issue of another “whiny teenager” complaining about how much work she has. Stress severely takes a toll on the well-being of teenagers, with its effects ranging from sleep deprivation to more severe mental health issues. To combat this level of strain put on the health of teenagers, the homework level must be reduced.
“Aside from the rigor of many classes, the amount of homework and pressure to succeed is overwhelming,” said senior Karen Li, who receives an average of seven hours of homework a night. “The workload I receive from my classes is detrimental to both my physical and emotional health, restricting me from getting healthy levels of sleep, for example.”
A study done at Stanford shows that between 1.5 and 2.5 hours is the optimal amount of homework for a high school student. The average amount of homework that students at Batavia receive is nearly twice the maximum “healthy” amount, which is uncalled for. In the long run, homework had more of a negative effect on teens more than it has a positive one. Instead of enhancing learning, homework just adds to the stress and lack of sleep that teenagers already possess, decreasing their ability to learn further and reducing their classroom well-being.
Teachers can do their part to assist students, if not by abolishing homework completely, then by giving students time in class to complete assignments, or by taking into account the workload being but on their students.
“I try to [take into account the homework load of other students when I assign homework], but if you have a course that has a heavy workload I can’t accomodate for that,” said Latin teacher Ms. Walls, known to her students as Magistra.
This is completely understandable, but if teachers band together, one class or teacher should not have to accommodate for the workload of any other, the reduced workload of all classes would improve the quality of student’s work and their willingness to do work both in class and out of class.
Some may say, however, that teachers need to assign homework so that they can go over that work in class.
“You have to work through the material before you can have a discussion about the material, and the more work you do, the better a discussion you can have,” Walls said.
While this is true, it is possible to assign the work needed to be completed by a certain day ahead of time so that students have a chance to spread work time out instead of cramming hours of workload into one night.
The most apparent detriment of the stress and homework crisis is the obvious lack of sleep. Teens need 9.25 hours of sleep a night, and the average teen receives 7, if that. It’s a vicious cycle- piles of homework, which leads to not getting enough sleep, which leads to decreased ability or downright inability to learn, which leads to further stress and even more homework, which leads to less sleep. And the cycle continues. If we ever want to break this self-destructive ring that teenagers are trapped in, our principle concern is to once and for all shrink the hours upon hours of homework subjected to teenagers daily.