A Modest Proposal: Changing the Homework Policy

by Tori Deems
Class of 2015

Homework has been the pinnacle of school ever since the little red schoolhouse first dug its roots. We the students simply abide by the lesson plans that our teachers have handed to us. We have never questioned this, never decided that we have had enough of pointless word searches or irrelevant busy work. The time for change is now. Not doing homework should be a choice, and Mr. Lee agrees.

Many believe that as students in high school, we need constant discipline or else we will turn into vegetables. Society looks at teenagers as irresponsible humans full of angst, which may be true in some cases. This view makes the transition from high school to college more difficult. We are expected to go right from being treated as a child to acting like an adult. In order to better prepare students for college, we need to allow more and more responsibility as we progress through high school.

Headmaster Mr. Lee wishes to impose a new system for Braintree High School. The percentage that homework goes into a student’s overall grade is inconsistent throughout the high school. Some teachers count homework for 15%, while others count it for 10% or even 20%. We need consistency across the spectrum. The proposal of having homework counting as 15% for freshman, 10% for sophomores, 5% for juniors, and 0% for seniors is surfacing within the walls of Braintree High School. Mr. Lee explained his thoughts on homework, stating “I believe that homework should count for less in most classes we have. I do think that it should be higher for freshmen (such as 15%), but decline as kids go through the grades. As we prepare kids for college, where homework is either not counted or counted as little, we need to get students used to the idea that homework is for their benefit.” Mr. Lee is right. Homework is ultimately for the benefit of the student, allowing us to go beyond the limits of the classroom to further our learning. Unfortunately, some homework assignments simply serve as busy work and do not enhance students’ abilities at all.

There are many benefits to this new homework policy. It better prepares students for college and allows for more responsibility. Those who wish to succeed and are willing to put in the effort will have positive results while those who do not will learn their lesson the hard way. The new policy also allows for students to have more free time to participate in stress relieving activities like watching Netflix or going to the gym. School is already mentally demanding for six hours of the day; the rest of the day should be enjoyed by the student. Also, students have other commitments such as sports or a job that do not leave much time to complete homework. Trying to juggle so many activities often leads to extreme amounts of stress. Less stressed students are happier and more willing to go to school.

I experienced first-hand the stressful effects of homework my junior year. I was up until two in the morning every day doing busy work. My mental and emotional stability were greatly compromised, with a mental breakdown full of tears occurring once a week. I felt like I was being punished for taking harder classes such as AP’s. Now, in my senior year, I have about an hour or less of homework each night. I am much happier and have more free time to pursue other interests such as having a job or working out.

As we mature in high school, the homework policy should mature with us. There is nobody in college to check for completion, no teacher breathing down our backs to make sure we understand a concept. The student must be willing to learn for their own benefit, not for a grade.

Tori Deems is a student in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition