Under pressure: students are crushed by the weight of homework

Staff and Komalpreet Kaur

In the daily life of a high schooler, there is a burgeoning list of things to do and insufficient hours in the day to complete them all and get enough sleep to stay healthy. While many adults argue that teenagers are “overcommitted,” in a six period day, if each teacher assigns us 30 minutes of homework, that’s 3 additional hours when we get home. We have “worked” at school for more hours than our parents worked at their career jobs. Students are also highly pressured by the competitive nature of college admissions, the wage gap between high and low income families, or both to extend themselves past the classroom, balancing extracurriculars like clubs, sports, and/or a job as well. Our teachers can’t control the climate of college admissions or the economy, but they can control the amount of extra work that they require us to do, especially when it doesn’t feel like it contributes to our learning in valuable ways.  

Illustration by Megan Rinock

The degree of demand of high school coursework varies from person to person, but there is a constant factor: teachers and administrators seem less and less concerned with how students manage their time, assigning extra work without consideration for what’s happening in the school or in other classes and also without effectively assisting students with time management. When teachers assign extra assignments as though theirs is the only class that students have, it becomes a burden on the student to figure out how to handle all of these responsibilities themselves. When a student doesn’t have their homework done, it becomes a zero in the gradebook, not a question of, “how can I help you be more successful in my class?” From a teachable moment to an expectation that departments alternate homework days during the week, there are simple changes that could be made that would greatly affect a student’s enjoyment of high school.

Districts like PPS develop students who are goal oriented in regards to the best colleges, but at what cost? The emotionally and physically taxing workload that is typical our high school experience is taking a devastating toll on us. The bottom line is that WE ARE CRUSHED. Crushed by the weight of hours of extra assignments that are either ungraded or graded for completion only and that do not actually help us learn in meaningful ways. Crushed by the pressure to perform our best on multiple overlapping projects and tests that are assigned without regard to what else in happening at that time. Crushed by the side effects of being overworked: sleep deprivation, poor eating and exercise habits, social isolation, loneliness, and anxiety to the point of panic attacks. Now that our teachers and administrators know that, the question is: what will they do to lift the weight?