Hey Homework, We Need To Talk

OPINIONS: Opinions Editor Anna Bock argues against bringing algebra home. 

From August to June, every year, my days are more or less the same. I get up at what feels like the crack of dawn. I shower, brush my teeth and rush to pull on whatever outfit seems appropriate for my guess at the day’s weather forecast. Approximately seven minutes later, I enter the building that is East High School, the primary source of my education for the past two years and the next two to follow. Here, my day dwindles by sitting in an inevitably creaky and uncomfortable seat for seven interminable class periods. The joy of liberation from such an experience abruptly evaporates, though, as I return home to a pile of papers and assignments awaiting completion. My backpack zipper is the revolving door to my life.

My backpack zipper is the revolving door to my life.

Now is where I must clarify that I do, in fact, enjoy school. I enjoy the camaraderie of engaging with peers. I enjoy the feeling as I expand in capacity and breadth of knowledge with each passing year. Most of all, I enjoy the rush of pride in seeing a good score on that test I stayed up until midnight the night before preparing for. Yes, I actually say it proudly: I like school. However, let’s just circle back to the part where I say I stayed up until midnight preparing for one single exam. Each year of school, the material is tougher, the expectations higher and the workload heavier. Students’ lives are increasingly consumed by homework and busy work that dash any hopes of having spare time in the time allocated to be a “break” from school. At what point did school become so demanding that we take breaks from school, instead of school being a break from daily life?

At what point did school become so demanding that we take breaks from school, instead of school being a break from daily life?

By the time I complete homework each night, time to go to the gym or to sit and catch up with my family is long gone. The teenage years of life are irreplaceable. They’re a time to go out and see the world. They’re a time to show school spirit at a sports game and make friends that last a lifetime. Students find themselves confined to their homes each night, instead, scrambling to finish homework in time to get enough sleep before the next taxing school day. Too often, they face the dilemma of a choice between staying home to chip away at an insurmountable load of work and going to the big home game, a family dinner or even a trip to the gym. It’s downright unfair to make students choose between the wellbeing of their grades and any means of escaping the pressure brought on by school. Not only is it unfair, it’s unhealthy.

Granted, homework occasionally serves a purpose. Teachers employ homework assignments as a means of reinforcing student’s newly acquired knowledge. While it serves a purpose, like all things in life, the load should come in moderation. Increased manageability in student workloads is attainable through elimination of assigned busy work and dedicating a reasonable portions of class time to at least begin work on the evening’s assignments. Complete removal of homework is a request both trivial and lacking logic, but there’s certainly an achievable compromise to be met with the cooperation of teachers and students.

The load should come in moderation.

Once teachers and students are able to facilitate such a compromise, free time opens for students to engage in activities away from the narrow confines of guided learning. Instead of spending their time conforming to the assignments handed to them, this time is better spent being poured into activities that reflect these students’ true identity. Time to partake in extracurriculars such as sports, music and art becomes increasingly prominent with the absence of stress over a consuming homework load. While homework and school are important, it’s unjust to continue permitting them to dominate teenager’s lives. Taking time away from family time and other activities that heavily contribute to the formation of a person’s identity equally is unreasonable. Therefore, it’s imperative for the education systems and students to cooperate and find a happy medium, where homework no longer dominates the spare time of students.