Homework puts the brake on breaks

Ellen Mi, page editor

It’s the last day of Thanksgiving break and you realize that you haven’t studied at all for the math test you have tomorrow. Poof, just like that, all of the happy memories of spending time with friends and family are replaced by the panic of returning to academic life. Considering the amount of work high school students are expected to do on a daily basis, any “break” from school has become increasingly unlikely, even during the holidays.

At Edina High School, some students are still expected to complete assignments over Thanksgiving break. Although the school has recently become more sensitive towards students’ workload and stress, many teachers—especially in AP classes—are on a strict timeline. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that it is healthy and beneficial for students to relax and recalibrate themselves with a substantial break from their academic work.

With tight academic and extracurricular schedules, breaks provide students valuable time with family and friends. For a busy student that has two parents working full-time jobs, dinner is often the only guaranteed time they can spend with their family during the school year. It also seems unfair for high school students to be expected to complete excessive amounts of homework when they have family in town that they don’t get to see too often. 

Moreover, students already complain about their workload, so superfluous or time-consuming work during their break from school only furthers the issue. They are expected to maintain a positive attitude while completing these seemingly meaningless assignments, which places even more stress upon high schoolers. Insofar as students are given a chance to reevaluate their priorities, breaks from school work can actually enhance academic performance. 

According to the research done by Southeastern University, the situation seems to be similar for younger students who still have recess: students’ physical activity during breaks generally increases, which promotes a much healthier lifestyle and higher levels of academic achievement. With students’ mental health becoming increasingly precarious in high school, a chance to step back and not worry about academic work might actually turn out to be one of the most helpful actions schools can take.

Overall, many teachers try to assign manageable amounts of homework to their students around the holiday seasons, but it’s important to evaluate how fair this is to students. Giving students a break from school should not be taken lightly, as it is an opportunity that many students can take to improve themselves and, perhaps more surprisingly, their academic performance.