Homework does more harm than good

Theo Teske

Homework is the bane of many students’ lives. As a result, many school districts around the country have begun to abolish or significantly reduce the homework load given to students. Should Edina adopt this same policy?

The answer is yes, without a doubt. Districts across the country have been eliminating homework, and the result is far from catastrophic. For example, the Washington Post explains that the Marion County school district in Florida, which boasts 42,000 students, has implemented encouragement of daily reading instead of homework, boosting student performance.

Furthermore, very few teachers assign homework effectively. The American Psychological Association stresses that many teachers have received little to no training on what kind of work to assign, how much to assign, or even why homework is assigned in the first place.

A lack of knowledge about homework is a systemic issue among teachers. The Learning Scientists, an organization devoted to academic research on education, notes that the large majority of teacher-training textbooks don’t cover homework at all, and teacher-prep programs and schools of education fail to cover this material as well.

Homework doesn’t even effectively prepare students for standardized tests. Math can be learned through repetition, but reading comprehension, a very prominent skill on standardized tests, is not boosted through homework. That’s why the American Prospect, a liberal public policy journal, finds that many students in the United States are woefully underprepared for standardized tests, and the current approach taken by schools is wrong.

Even worse is that there can be very serious health concerns as a result of homework. A study by the Better Sleep Council found that homework is one of the top causes of stress for all teenagers. The study continues that on average, teenagers spend 15 hours a week on homework. This intensive schedule translates into 79% of teens not getting enough sleep (eight hours) on a regular basis.

When students have less time to take care of themselves, their health worsens. A study from Stanford’s Graduate School of Education concluded that students experience headaches, exhaustion, weight loss, and stomach problems due to heavy homework loads. Beyond the physical effects, students also have less time to spend on extracurriculars and hobbies, making moods worse and depression more likely.

Finally, homework may contribute to economic inequality as well. As noted by the Atlantic, 90% of students say that their homework requires use of the internet at some point in any given month, which creates issues when some students don’t have internet access or even technology to connect to the internet.

Considering that homework is a large determinant of academic success in the current system, when some students can’t complete the assignments their grades take the hit. Because school is so crucial to future job opportunities, this system only creates a cycle of poverty wherein the children of the poorest in society are forced to remain impoverished, keeping families at the bottom of the economic ladder for generations.

Homework now is assigned poorly, creates health issues, and furthers inequality. If eliminating it already works for many school districts in the United States, what is Edina waiting for?