Quality or quantity: How much homework is too much?

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Erika Holmberg

Stressed out senior Lauren Puthoff agonizes over her abundance of homework.

Erika Holmberg, Copy Editor

PV is known for its commitment to excellence and motto of “total effort,”  but the quality of these prideful mottos has diminished as a result of the mental exhaustion of overworked students. 

Major loads of assigned homework are nothing new to PV students. Piles of chapter readings, tedious workbook assignments and other forms of homework have been assigned by most teachers nearly every weekend of the school year, thrusting new information upon fatigued students. 

Weekends, which are typically a time for relaxation and recharging, have been snatched away by textbooks, formulas and color-coordinated notecards. Due to excessive homework loads, students have faced the consequences of sleep deprivation, mental and physical exhaustion and social imbalance. Family connections have been cut like a string, and personal time for reflection and recharging has been limited. 

Junior Leah Mendelin is an involved student at PV, participating in band, choir, theatre and more. She has felt as though the burden of homework overload has created an immense disconnect in her life. “During the week I find myself being tired most of the time. Maintaining good grades in the classes I love and keeping involved in activities I’m passionate about can get a bit exhausting, making it hard to give total effort all the time.”

Exhaustion and lack of motivation aren’t the only unhealthy consequences of being overworked, they also lead to an even bigger problem: poor mental health.  

The recent national rise in mental health issues and instability represents a clear indication of where schools have gone wrong.

Recent studies by the University of San Diego display the rapid decline in overall well-being and quality of life of students overworked by homework assignments. Out of 4,300 students, an astonishing 56 percent of students surveyed stated that homework was the primary source of stress in their lives. How is it that something so educational for students has turned into the most detrimental aspect of their academic career?

Although these assignments check the Common Core academic standards, they do not cater to the well-being of strained students.

The Common Core curriculum was first introduced to Iowa schools in 2008. One of the goals of the Common Core system is to enhance the educational experience of students at a fast pace. This faster curriculum has undoubtedly sped up the teaching timeline for teachers but, in return, has shoved busier homework schedules onto students’ laps. 

Unfortunately, the values behind the Common Core curriculum do not fully support what current post-secondary students experience in the classroom. 

Iowa State University freshman and PV graduate Sam McGrath has seen a large difference in his high school and college workload. “In college, almost every professor gives a weekly outline and makes all homework due by the end of the week,” he said. “This has allowed me to better plan out my week and have little to no homework over the weekend. I feel more in control of my learning and my schedule.” 

Senior Parker Paulson has struggled to prepare for the next chapter of his life on top of keeping up with his rigorous homework schedule. He has also felt the irony of high school’s lack of college schedule alignment. “With all of my homework that was assigned to me Friday and due Sunday, I had to cram [my homework] into one night so I could go on my college visit,” he said. “I never thought that homework, which is supposed to prepare me for college, would ever interfere with me physically visiting a college.”

If there are so many negative effects of excessive homework loads, then why is this educational method still in place?

Although excessive homework loads cause major mental health burdens, it is the job of every teacher to prepare their students for the real world, and assigning multiple pages of homework can aid in doing so. 

In the ultimate game of life after post-secondary school, there are no breaks. Bosses most likely will not give employees the weekend off because they are tired or just not feeling up to it. A busy workplace is a lot different from Kindergarten recess, and making the stressful transition at an intermediate age allows students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with an adult-simulated lifestyle. 

Regardless, students should not have to be penalized in such a way that takes away from their overall well-being, health and productivity. Sleep deprivation, force-fed studying and regurgitation of a Quizlet are not exactly the skills a working adult would use in their professional job. 

Homework cannot be eliminated entirely, but it can be reduced. If schools truly care about the overall success of their students, then it may be time to make a curriculum change.