Sarah Parker: Is the school load too much?

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There was an article in the New York Times called Tough New York Private Schools Try to Lighten Load, by Jenny Anderson, about how students are receiving a high work load. Famously rigorous private schools in New York are realizing the agonizing stress their students receive from tests, projects, midterms, and homework. One idea that the school Trinity came up with was to coordinate test taking, labs, and other projects. Horace Mann School opened a tutoring center where the students can get tutored and learn to manage their workload. Manhattan Hunter Science School, for the first time ever, is not giving out homework on holidays like Halloween, Chinese New Year, and March 14th.  “New York City’s most competitive high schools, famed for their Marine-like mentality when it comes down to homework, have begun to lighten the load for fear of crushing their teenage charges”.

Jessica Bagby, the head of Trinity’s upper school says, “We realize the pressures on them and to the degree that we’re complicit; we need to own that”. Adam Gopnik, an author and a parent, states, “There’s very little evidence that doing homework makes kids smarter.” Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at the Stanford School of Education, did a study that showed students with 3.5 hours of homework a night had increased risk of physical and mental health issues, like sleep deprivation, ulcers, and headaches. Students these days are often too overwhelmed and stressed out. The average hours of sleep a student receives is 6.5 hours, when the ‘healthy’ minimum is 7. Another study showed that losing sleep means losing productivity. Mr. Gopnik said, “The wind is blowing in the direction of sanity. There’s no value in stressing kids out. You are robbing them of their childhood”.

If parents, teachers, and even experts are saying that homework is hurting us as students, why do we still receive it? I believe we should receive at the very most two hours of homework a night, more time to process and study tests, and more time for projects. I’m not just saying this because I want to sit on the couch and watch TV for the rest of the day; I know, from experience what it’s like to be under the stress of our workload and the how the deprivation of sleep effects the school day. It’s hard enough being in high school, why make it even more stressful?

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