‘Tis the Season For No Homework

Jillian Reynolds

Homework is beneficial to the mind of a student. There’s no arguing that homework has helped students further understand their curriculum, and it is especially needed in Advance Placement classes. But there is an ever present debate students make that should be heard.

After taking a survey of numerous Franklin High School students, 100% of the surveyees agreed that they should not be assigned homework over Christmas break. Please note that over half of the students surveyed are currently enrolled in five or more Advanced Placement(AP) and/or honors classes. Although teachers and parents may say that the students’ argument is invalid, the students may be leading somewhere.

During the school year, FHS students receive about 2-6 hours of homework a night, depending on their classes and grade. As well as homework, they have to fit clubs, sports, family, chores, jobs, and any other extracurricular activities into their schedules. On top of managing all of those activities and school, research shows that teenagers need an average 8-10 hours of sleep each night. With all of their activities and school, it seems very unlikely that most FHS students receive their recommended amount of sleep to stay healthy and energized during the day.

This year Massachusetts’ Amherst College announced that its students will not be receiving any homework over Christmas break as the school’s superintendent declared, “there are times during the school year that students should be able to rest and recharge”. FHS junior Rachel Gillis agrees with the college’s superintendent, claiming that FHS “students are so overwhelmed with work during the school year that they need a break to relax and catch up on missed work”.

It seems obvious that students need more sleep and relaxation, and many argue that is what they will achieve during Christmas break. Unfortunately, those arguments are wrong. Due to the amount of homework students are assigned over Christmas break, they spend their break stressing and fretting over homework rather than relaxing with their families. On top of that, Christmas break barely allows more time for homework completion compared to the average school week.

Students typically spend their holidays celebrating with family and friends, consuming large amounts of food, visiting a location besides home, and enjoying the break from school that teachers and administration encourage students to. With all of those activities going on along with students’ regularly scheduled extracurricular activities, the amount of time they have for homework is close to minimal.

Breaking down this year’s holiday break, the moment school ends, Christmas Eve and Hanukkah commence the day after. Following the 24th of December, Christmas Day is celebrated, already taking two days out of the students’ vacation time to do homework. Up until the very last day of break, Hanukkah is celebrated. Beside the holidays, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day occur on the Saturday and Sunday, taking another two days out of time for homework. In  between, students typically continue with their celebrations alongside family and friends, continue with their sports and extracurricular activities, and use their break for relaxation. Yet with homework added in the mix, one of the activities needs to be taken away for room for homework. Given that the celebration of religious holidays and extra curricular activities is nearly non-negotiable, students are forced to take away their time for relaxation so that they can complete their homework. One FHS student summed up the purpose of this argument, saying, “A break is a break, giving 20 hours of homework makes it redundant”.

Teachers and parents may be concerned as to how this homework reduction would affect students, yet research has shown that “there [is] no relationship whatsoever between time spent on homework and course grade, and ‘no substantive difference in grades between students who complete homework and those who do not’[…] even in high school”.

Along with that, Lane Tech College Prep High School in Illinois, has decided to refute all homework assignments over its winter break and allow its students to “re-charge, re-connect with families and friends, and reflect on classroom learning”. Lane Tech High School is notorious for having “a capstone Advanced Placement [..] experience” and is one of nine selective enrollment schools in Illinois.

So, what does this mean for FHS? Well, our school can decide to follow in Lane Tech College Prep High School and Amherst College’s footsteps and choose to give its panthers a break from homework and relax, after all it is called a break. Yet, considering that the majority of teachers already have assignments planned for their students, here’s to hoping that teachers seriously consider this alternative: Rather than assigning a week’s worth of homework, assign a night’s worth of homework or a weekend’s worth, but not a whole 5 days. For example, instead of assigning a math packet or multiple pages of problems from a textbook, assign a math worksheet or one or two pages of problems.

In a 2006 study at Duke University led by professor Harris Cooper, Cooper concluded that “Even for high school students, overloading them with homework is not associated with higher grades”.

So, teachers and FHS administration, as panther students we urge you to promote a homework-free winter break. After all, Christmas break should be spent by students and teachers enjoying its literal meaning – a break from school.