It’s another average night, and as usual I am frantically trying to complete my hours worth of homework, eat dinner, shower, get ready for bed, talk to my family, and unwind, all after my 8 hour long school day. For the millionth time I wonder how this constant stress is beneficial to me. Surely the anxiety caused by this overwhelming amount of homework cannot be healthy -- in fact research shows it’s not.
Studies show that homework can be linked to the lack of sleep amongst students (Vicki Abeles). While passing people chatting in the hallways on my way to class, I’m never surprised to hear someone, or multiple people, say something along the lines of “I'm so tired.” Most of the time I spend more hours in a day doing schoolwork/homework than sleeping. Research shows that the more homework one does, the fewer hours they sleep. More sleep can improve academic success and mental health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Dr. Stuart Slavin, a pediatrician and professor at the St. Louis University School of Medicine, surveyed students at Irvington High School in Fremont, CA. He uncovered alarming results: 54% of students showed moderate to severe symptoms of depression, and 80% showed moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety.
As an individual who suffers from anxiety, I understand that most of my anxiety is derived from stress about school. I’m not the only one who feels that way, however. 1 out of every 3 teenagers told the American Psychological Association that school was their main source of stress, and it even drove them to sadness/depression. 94% of college counselors are seeing an increase of students with severe psychological problems (Vicki Abeles). Long-term childhood stress can lead to much worse problems as an adult, such as higher risk of adult anxiety and depression (Vicki Abeles). School is supposed to lead students into a brighter future, not a future filled with mental disorders.
Stress does not only manifest itself in psychological ways, however. It can be presented in physical manners as well. Children as young as 5 years old are reportedly having ulcers and migraines caused from school stress (Vicki Abeles). Students at that age should not be having any school related stress at all.
Studies show that long-term childhood stress is linked to physical health problems as an adult. Children with extreme stress at school and home are more likely to suffer heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and shortened life spans as adults (Vicki Abeles). School is legitimately making students sick.
Contrary to what many people think, having less-pressure in school does not lead to poorer and lazier performances (Vicki Abeles). In most cases, it is the exact opposite. Think about it: If one has a multitude of assignments to work on, they are going to be focused on completing them to get them out of the way, rather than completing them to the best of their abilities. In a recent study that was published in American Journal of Family Therapy discovered that “the general consensus is that excessive homework not only shows no benefit, but may be detrimental.” Having less assignments at once would allow one to revise and finish each endeavor carefully.
A stress reducing strategy was implemented at St. Louis medical school, and ever since then the exam results have improved, and the rate of students with anxiety and depression has lowered (Vicki Abeles). The changes made at Irvington High School have caused the AP class failure rates to drop by half (Vicki Abeles). Even an elementary school in Barrie, Ontario is seeing grades go up after a ban of homework, entirely (Paul Luke).
I’m lucky that I have parents who value learning over grades, but not every student is so fortunate. The research shows that a shift in current thinking about homework is necessary. Physical and emotional health and well being is more important than grades.