Open Letter to Educators

Photo by Carol Yepes from Getty Images

Homework, undeniably the worst part of being a student. 

Administration tries to make us be wary of social media, drugs, and bullying as detriments to mental health, but they ignore the fact that homework has also been proven to negatively affect students both mentally and physically. One study, realized by a Stanford University researcher, found that “Students who did more hours of homework experienced greater behavioral engagement in school, but also more academic stress, physical health problems, and lack of balance in their lives.” Among the physical issues experienced were “headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems.” This was in a study consisting of more than 4,000 High School students. Among the mental health category, “56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress.” This is where it gets fun.

It’s at this point that I ask any administrator reading this, do you think your students are exempt? 

Or will you attack my credibility and brush me off as a lazy student looking for an excuse to slack off? That’s not the case. I sit at the top of my class, an Honors and AICE and NHS student. This is not just some high schooler complaining. This is a proven issue. 

Homework is the reason why so many students stay up late and subsequently end up sleeping five hours a night, the reason why students have so much stress, especially in “unprecedented times”. This often leads to students feeling burnt out by school. Burn out is a dangerous slope. It can make you feel almost depressed from the juxtaposition of how little you want to accomplish after being on top of your work for so long. When the burn out hits, student’s quality of work declines, as well as the production. At this point, students have to grapple between the temptation of giving up work to focus on their mental health and the responsibility they have to push through and fall further into despair at the never-ending workload. So, I do not see how eight hours of school plus homework helps us when it in fact overworks us.

Assigning homework during breaks makes even less sense. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring breaks are meant to be a reset for everyone. Students countdown the days until the next break so they can unwind, spend time with friends and family, and forget the worries of turning in work. Often, teachers take this as a green light to assign homework. Poor timing like this is precisely why high school students have a “lack of balance in their lives,” as found in the Stanford University study. Although time away from work is essential for every person’s mental health, teachers ignorantly believe that it is just a luxury for students.

I have heard many reasons for why homework should stay. All of which should be obsolete knowing the damage it does to your students’ mental health and physical well-being.

However, I doubt you will stop to think about this editorial when you assign us work.

Homework is given to us under the guise that it helps us in some way, I’ve yet to see how.

Yours Truly, a burnt-out student