Homework: How Much is Too Much?

Posted on January 10, 2012 by


I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.

-Lily Tomlin

I feel like I’m using this blog as an excuse to complain, but I hope you don’t mind if I tell you how I feel about homework. This weekend I spent about five hours cobbling together a bibliographic essay on Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich Romanov, who was actually a pretty influential figure. I’m interested in history, and I don’t mind putting in an afternoon now and then, but with all the work from my five other classes, the day slipped away while I stayed inside at my desk. I began to wonder. I know that homework can be useful in cementing knowledge and helping students explore their topics, but how much is too much?

Homework is widely considered to be a means of improving students’ performance and forming crucial life skills, but there is a divide between helpful and harmful. Especially during adolescent years, high schools should ensure that students have the opportunity for a wide range of enriching experiences, such as sports, music, arts, and service, while still having that miracle of free time. A deluge of assignments often affects teens’ ability to participate in other activities, their health, and their enjoyment of learning. To correct overwork, I think high schools should encourage teachers to maximize the value of their homework. Improving homework could include assigning creative projects that relate to the real world, choosing activities that cement learning without being busy work, allowing time in class for homework, and in some cases, setting time limits for class assignments.

Academics are obviously a huge part of our lives, but there are lots of other pursuits that contribute valuable talents, such as exercise, music and art classes, community service, and time with family and friends. Students should be able to participate in a variety of these activities and not be unreasonably restrained from involvement by a work overload, especially on the weekend.  I used to volunteer at a library, practice the violin with regularity, and spend time on Sundays taking leisurely walks with my family. Now I can’t sacrifice weekend time to help out the community, barely squeeze in a practice once a week, and see my family only at dinner. Many of my friends have also had to forfeit their beloved hobbies to hammer out pages of math problems.

By assigning hours of homework a night, teachers can cause detrimental health effects in students. Homework is renowned for increasing stress levels, which, according to the American Institute of Stress, are linked to depression, insomnia, heart attacks, gastrointestinal problems, and neurological disorders (http://www.stress.org, 2011). Excess homework can also contribute to obesity, because it forces students to remain at their desk for extended periods of time and can detract from exercise and healthful eating. Since one of the purposes of homework is to improve performance in school, it is obvious that too much homework can actually diminish student’s abilities by increasing their vulnerability to various serious diseases, as well as minor ailments such as headaches and lack of sleep.

Many educators argue that less homework makes children fall behind in school. Common studies on the amount of homework versus the academic performance, however, indicate that educationally high-performing countries, such as Japan, give a smaller amount of homework than lower-performing countries, like Thailand (http://www.physorg.com/news4333.html, 2011). The key to academic achievement comes not from the total amount of homework, but the relevance of the work in question.

By no means am I asking for homework to be eradicated – I understand homework’s value and strongly believe that it helps students form life skills. I only hope that teachers will really think about how their assignments affect their students and try to make the homework they do give meaningful. Students are generally more motivated to complete and learn from assignments when such assignments are relevant to the topic and challenge intellect without being repetitive.

An excess of homework can be harmful to various facets of a student’s life when it is mindlessly allotted in vast quantities. To diminish health problems, allow students to participate in fulfilling activities, and prepare students for college and their working lives, I beg teachers to contemplate how and why they assign homework. I assure you, hardworking, intelligent students will be much more enthusiastic about their education if classes do not swamp them with homework for fifteen hours every weekend.


“”Effects of Stress”.” American Institute of Stress. American Institute of Stress, 2011. Web. 17 Mar 2011. <http://www.stress.org/topic-effects.htm&gt;.

“Too Much Homework Can Be Counterproductive.” Physorg.com. Physorg.com, 31 May 2005. Web. 17 Mar 2011. <http://www.physorg.com/news4333.html&gt;.



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