Homework: How Much Is Too Much?- Srudhilaya Karthik, Townley Grammar School

We’ve all been there: midnight, the blue glare of an empty word document illuminating your tired face. Homework has plagued students for years, but is it really as terrible as it’s cracked up to be?


It’s no secret that homework can supplement class study, as well as teaching vital problem solving skills to those who manage to stay on top, but does it promote cramming and late night assignments for the rest of us? The number one reason many homework advocates support it is because it helps with crucial time management skills required for life beyond GCSEs. I’m sure you’ve heard your teachers drone on and on about how there is so much more to do during university and A-levels. Time management will help with this jump, but I don’t think homework is the answer. 


Even science suggests that too much homework isn’t the best. (Just like everything else in the world, moderation is key). A meta-analysis by Duke University concluded that students who complete a greater amount of work receive a greater grade. However, further studies by Stanford, found that students who spend too much time studying experience more stress, physical health issues and a lack of balance in their lives. Students agree that quality over quantity is the key to assigning homework. Kavi K, a secondary school student affirms that ‘sometimes you know when the teacher is giving you homework for the sake of homework, but some of it is incredibly useful, for example ‘challenge tasks’ in science. They weren’t fun but helped a lot’.


Constant deadlines foster an attitude that staying up until 3 a.m is acceptable as long as it’s for homework. The focus on deadlines may be teaching children that as long as a task is completed, however last minute, it’s ok. No matter what the quality of the work is! This is not healthy. 


Not only is homework a pain for students, It can be a pain for teachers too! Oftentimes, teachers are required to ‘tick a box’ and set something to fill up pre-planned homework timetables. Consequently, our educators who are already overworked must accept piles of student work to mark every week.


Perhaps for younger children in primary school, homework can help a parent understand the content their child is covering at school, as well as facilitating opportunities for bonding while going over long division or learning the ‘harvest samba’. Even in secondary school some teachers feel that what is taught within lessons isn’t enough. Homework allows students to recap and ensure they really understand the topic.


Ivie T states that homework is ‘sometimes extremely bureaucratic’ and I, as a student, can’t help but agree. Homework nowadays has become a five-hour formality rather than a tool to help us. Not only does it claw into pupils’ free time, but steals time better spent revising, relaxing and sleeping! Many feel that they have to stay up to complete work due, and would ‘rather die than get a detention’ Kavi states. The pressure to cheat stems from this fear and indisputably removes the original purpose of the work set. 


So what should we do? The consensus among students is reasonable: less homework, but better quality work.  Grace D declares ‘students should be more encouraged to do something student-led or independent study topics to discuss and recap with the class in the next lesson’. Not only would long-form essays/ research grant students an opportunity to develop interests and study something they are passionate about but it would  also prepare them for dissertations and research at university. If topical homework is more necessary, perhaps exam questions are the way forward – they directly help students with revision and recall necessary for exams.


Homework doesn’t have to be boring! It could be anything- from clubs to community work, gaining real-world experience. This could mean students value their school time more, and not rely on homework to cover the curriculum.  Besides being a useful addition to your CV, this sort of work could shape and sculpt a child’s future, creating the well-rounded generation of the future. 


Maybe that’ll mean no more blank word documents, but for now, we’ll have to keep typing on. 

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