By Abigail Schlitzer
According to the Huffington Post, teens spend an average of six hours per week on homework. With that said, why do students put up with this extra work, and what health problems can be caused by it?
Imagine, a world where school didn’t involve homework. Instead, every evening, teens begin a nightly load of homework that is often too heavy for weeknights to also include some free time and a sufficient amount of sleep. Because of this, 90% of teens are sleep deprived according to the Huffington Post and NBC News. This lack of rest can lead to car accidents – 1 in 7 drivers aged 16-24 have nodded off at the wheel in the past year -, bad moods, and lower grades. For Bekah Schlitzer, a junior, homework has created some bad habits “like not sleeping enough, or not eating well or at all.”
These impacts are especially present in Loudoun County. According to Loudoun Now, Loudoun recently earned a spot on the AP district honor roll, a title they previously earned in 2011. What this title means is that a large number of Loudoun county students (69%) took an AP class and scored a 3 or higher on the AP exam. “[the grade bump from] AP classes actually helps [because] you can get college credit for them, so it’s worth [the extra work to] take those, but there’s not much of a difference with honors classes,” explains Schlitzer. So why put up with the extra homework from honors courses? “I just take [them] because they look better on a transcript,” answers Schlitzer, “… that way I can get into a good college and eventually get a good job.”
What if high school was thought of as our jobs? As Karl Taro Greenfield, a writer for The Atlantic says, “imagine if after putting in a full day at the office … you had to come home and do another four or so hours of office work. Monday through Friday. Plus … [High Schoolers] get homework every weekend. If your job required that kind of work after work, how long would you last?” Unfortunately, school is not thought of as our jobs. According to the LA times, high school students spend about 3.5 hours per night on homework. “[I think that] Sometimes [teachers assign too much homework]”, says Schlitzer, “If I have homework and a project in [a] class, then it’s a lot. A lot of teachers try to spread it out, so it’s not too bad, but sometimes they definitely give too much.”
“I definitely have the most homework in pre-AP,” says freshman Abigail Kaspary, “There have only been 2 nights [out of the whole school year] that I haven’t had homework [in that class.] … Most of the time, I understand [if I have a lot], because [teachers are] preparing us for the future. Also, the only reason I have a lot is because I’m in honors classes; so I could’ve chosen not to do that.”
In the same article by Greenfield, he writes that while helping his middle school daughter with homework, when asked what a piece of information meant, she would reply, “memorization, not rationalization.” This is unfortunately the view of many, because school throws out large chunks of information at once, meaning “even though I study for all my test and quizzes, I usually forget everything afterward,” says Schlitzer. So what’s even the point of studying? “[The] pressure by parents and schools to achieve top scores has created stress levels among students,” reads a Stanford News article.
On a scale from one to 10, the average adult has a stress level of 5.1; the average teen has a stress level of 5.8. A healthy amount of stress for teens is considered to be a 3.9. According to a 2013 study by the American Psychological Association, 83% of teens consider school to be a source of stress. “[homework creates stress for me] because there’s a lot riding on it,” says Schlitzer, “It affects your grade, and you have to do well because some teachers check it. There’s a lot of it to do and not a lot of time to do it.”
“It’s stressful to keep up with everything,” agrees Kaspary, “especially with sports and music practice.” Yet teens still put up with the stress due to the social emphasis placed on getting good grades to go to a good college to get a good job. “[homework gives me headaches and stomach aches] that are 100% because of stress,” says Schlitzer, “[and] I get really tired and I’m bored and agitated after doing homework, my patience level’s just gone.” “[I get cranky] if I don’t get enough sleep [after doing homework for too long],” adds Kaspary.
As tedious as homework is, “[it] definitely helps [my grades] because I almost always get A’s on homework.” “It definitely helps.,” agrees Schlitzer, “[during sophomore] year in AP world [history], we had homework every day, and it was worth like 20 points, so that’s how I got an A in that class. And this year in AP US history, we don’t have any homework, and it’s really hard because my entire grade rests on tests and quizzes. So even though it’s stressful, it’s useful.”