Homework: the harmful academic placebo

Hinsdale Central is a good school. Everyone knows it. It’s chock full of overachievers who will do whatever it takes to get ahead- even trudging through hours of arduous homework. But is all that homework really beneficial to a student’s learning? Or is it simply an antiquated ordeal we put ourselves through because of the school system’s inability to challenge the status quo?

According to the Washington Post, there is a slight positive relationship between time spent on homework and grades and test scores- but this data can be misleading. Does homework really help students, or do the highest achieving students just make sure to complete their homework? Furthermore, the grade boost is most likely coming from the completion points from homework, not from any actual benefit. Opponents claim that there are non academic benefits to homework, like the development of discipline and organization skills, but students just don’t have the time. If we want students to be more disciplined and independent, give them more chances to work independently in school!

A survey of over 50,000 high school students administered by Challenge Success, a nonprofit organization, reports that students spend an average of 2.7 hours of homework per weeknight and 3.0 hours on weekends. This is time students just don’t have to spend. With sports and clubs and after school jobs, students are forced to cut sleep in order to do homework. Hinsdale kids are tired, depressed, and stressed out- I know I am. A student survey asked over 200,000 middle and high school students what causes them the most stress in their life. One of the most common responses? Homework. If there’s any time students need less stress, it’s now. According to Pew Research, the total number of students suffering from depression increased by 59% from 2007 to 2017.

As the American Psychological Association points out, the homework problem is even worse for kids from disadvantaged homes. Kids from such homes are less likely to have parents available to help them with their homework, and more likely to work after school jobs. They’re also more likely to have stress already without the burden of trying to complete hours of homework, often unassisted. Another group that homework unfairly hurts is neurodivergent students like myself. I have ADHD, which I am now on medications for, but in middle school, my ADHD was untreated, which led to me spending 5-9 hours on homework per night, and left me wondering why I couldn’t complete it at the same pace as my classmates- and I’m not the only one who suffers from this problem.

So what’s the solution? Get rid of all unnecessary homework in District 86. There have been positive benefits correlated with reading, and it’s hard to tell students not to study for tests, but busywork, such as extra practice or unrelated new material should be entirely cut out. Cutting down homework is backed by research and student sentiment, so why wait?