According to the LA Times, the average high school student is assigned 3.5 hours of homework each night, accumulating to more than 17 hours per week. After getting home from a long day of school, or turning off one’s computer after hours of Zoom classes, finding the motivation to do homework is nearly impossible. With all of the emotional stress the past year has put on us, the healthiest choice not only for students, but teachers as well, would be to decrease the required workload. For students, the adjustments of hybrid learning and navigating this strange world in which we are currently living presents enough challenges, and the stress of having multiple assignments and hours of homework is extremely overwhelming and hard to manage. For teachers, the hours of grading on top of learning new technology and figuring out how to teach kids through a screen is aggravating and exhausting.The way school is run has dramatically shifted, and so should the rigor of classes.
As students move from middle school to high school, they find their workload has exponentially increased, going from 3.2 hours per week to up to 17.5, according to US News. Although the rigor of classes is important for college, which has been on everyone’s mind since their first day of freshman year, taking intense classes should not be the main focus. The expectations of parents and teachers to have their kids and students take the most challenging courses possible, keep up with extracurricular activities, and have a social life, is a higher bar to reach than most think.
Yes, school is important, and yes, college is important, but as we get older, there seems to be less and less time to just be. The meaning of being a teenager has become less about the fun and milestones: getting a license, spending time with friends, having a first boyfriend or girlfriend, late nights, and so much more. It has slowly become more about grades, school clubs, college tours, and basically anything that involves creating the best opportunities for college. Consumed by the pressure of making parents proud and keeping up with the competitiveness, we are losing ourselves.
The sooner we realize that school should be an opportunity, not a chore, the sooner we can be freed from the weight of society’s expectations. The truth is, people love to learn. We are born with curiosity about the world around us, but the added homework makes it feel less like a choice and more like a burden. The older we get, the more homework there is, and the more of a tribulation school becomes. By the time we get to high school, homework has become a pervasive aspect of our lives. The less overwhelming the workload is, the more likely we are to enjoy learning again.
Homework should be to go for a walk, do some form of self care, participate in an activity we enjoy, find an interesting article for science, or write up a book recommendation for friends in English. High schoolers have become overworked and mentally burnt out and a change of pace especially during unprecedented times is crucial to the mental health of students.