Half of my energy wasted on random knowledge

Grace Klebe, entertainment writer

After a week full of front-loading, tests, quizzes and due dates for many KHS students, a relaxing four-day weekend with no homework was enjoyed. KHS has decided to test the weekends of February 16 and March 9 as no homework weekends, instructing the faculty to restrain from assigning work over the time off. Some spent the time traveling, hanging out with friends or catching up on sleep. While the majority of KHS thoroughly enjoyed the break from out-of-class work with over 90 percent (169/183) believing it was a good idea, it left many wondering, why isn’t it like this all the time, and if it were, would that be a good thing?

There are not many schools throughout the country that have no homework policies in place. For the most part, the ones that do are elementary schools such as Orchard Elementary School in Vermont. As stated on their website, “our elementary students deserve a childhood and they need to be active and engaged. It is our hope that removing routine homework will increase excitement and passion for learning.” The trend of getting rid of homework for elementary students is catching on, but high schoolers still don’t see relief from the lengthy assignments that plague them each night. 91 percent (170/183) of students believe that not all of their homework is necessary and that “busy work” is not effective and is time consuming.

“I don’t think homework should be busy work,” Donna Canan, department head of KHS English said. “I think it should be meaningful, or we shouldn’t assign it.”

When students find themselves repeating the same questions over and over again that cover topics they feel comfortable with, most get frustrated and push their assignments to the side, opting to work on projects they deem more important. Hollie Bickel, sophomore, said she has felt the stress of needing to complete multiple assignments for different classes and having to decide which ones to work on.

“I feel like some classes are more important, and I need a better grade in certain classes over others,” Bickel said. “Sometimes I will prioritize a core class over an extracurricular. I feel certain classes give too much homework and [the teacher] thinks it is the only class [I take].”

According to Etta Kravolec and John Buell, authors of “The End of Homework,” homework does nothing but cause stress in high school students and take away from social and family time. In their article they write, “Homework is a black hole in the learning process, leaving teachers unaware of each student’s true educational level or progress and unable to scaffold new knowledge for the students.”

Kids are stressed. Their lives are really busy, and their social lives are important too.”

— Donna Canan

A study conducted in 2012 by Adam Maltese, science professor at Indiana University, also shows that teachers are not using homework correctly. The study was conducted on a large group of high schoolers and the amount of time they spent on homework compared to their academic performance. Students working on schoolwork for long amounts of time each night did not perform better than students who spent more time working on other things, playing sports, or being with family. Maltese states that other factors, like attentiveness and class participation, contribute more to the success of students. With these facts considered, the question is why over 50 percent (80/154) of KHS students spend 2 hours or more on homework each night.

“Kids are stressed. Their lives are really busy, and their social lives are important too” Canan said. “I think what the [no homework weekend] has done is raise awareness. I think it is really admirable for the administration to think about kids and acknowledge their stress levels. I would think about all of the other activities too and to teach kids to balance their lives.”

Not all KHS teachers believe in assigning nightly work. Mike George, physics teacher, doesn’t assign homework. Ethan Schwake, sophomore, took George’s class his freshman year and was fond of his no homework ideology.

“He gave us study materials so we could be prepared but he didn’t assign mandatory work that pressured us with our busy schedules,” Schwake said.

Eliminating homework is a potential way to ease stress, although no one has ever attempted to get rid of it completely from their curriculum. Homework allows for students to practice concepts and ideas outside of the classroom and master them. An academic journal written by Janine Bempechat, professor of Human Development at Wheelock College, argues that homework is critical in the academic development of students. She relates homework to level of motivation and writes about how learning the responsibility of completing homework helps students in the long run. Completely getting rid of homework would be a hard task because there will always be tests and quizzes that require students to study outside of school.

According to Canan, academics should always come first for students, and most teachers and coaches agree with this statement. Homework keeps kids busy and gives them an outlet to practice new concepts and skills, but research shows that the stress component is one that should be taken into consideration, and finding a balance is important. Eliminating “busy work” assignments and unnecessary work might improve the lives of KHS students, and according to 90 percent (169/183) of them, the two no homework weekends are a step in the right direction.

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