In your classroom you have likely seen a student be so overcome with fear of turning in late work, or missing an assignment that they might ask you a half dozen times when that particular assignment is due. When you ask about a student’s activities after school you are likely to hear about soccer practices, dance recitals, and tennis tournaments. The student day is filled with having to learn from teachers who all have different systems for assignments, grading, teaching, and communicating with students. All of this can take a heavy toll on our students. It is therefore no surprise that anxiety is a major problem for our students.
Much of what I have read suggests that 25 percent of all students suffer from anxiety disorders. As teachers we can either throw our hands up and say “that’s life” or we could offer practical solutions for our students to manage or even eliminate this anxiety for our students.
Consider the amount of time that students spend outside of the classroom doing school work. The teacher crafts homework for students to complete on their own time. The goal would be to practice skill, reinforce key concepts, preview content and so on. Most of the homework assignments I see students working on may lightly touch on some of these goals. Students may struggle at home if there is a lack of a designated spot to complete homework assignments. Students may also struggle to get any support at home to complete homework assignments. There may even be a battle between parents and students to complete the assignments. Each of these scenarios might play out every night. They may even play out in different combinations. These disconcerting effects make an impact on our students. Are we serving our students by asking them to complete assignments with odds stacked against them that they may have little to no control over?
Another side effect of an overabundance of homework is that the assignments themselves may be promoting an atmosphere of dishonesty in our students. In the struggle to keep up and stay on pace with copious amounts of homework students are copying answers from friends. While some might argue that homework and honesty have no connection, I would reply that it is the volume of homework that students struggle with that dwarf the value of honesty in our students. In the economy of homework each assignment is the currency. The economy is flooded with currency and each of the notes has completely lost its value.
The solution may be the adoption of a no homework policy. This would be especially helpful in lower grades where students are already faced with a lack of outdoor play and unstructured free time. In the middle grades a limit to the amount of homework teachers can assign and on what days to assign the homework should be considered. By the time students reach high school and have learned to balance school, home, and extracurricular routines more liberal amounts of homework may be suitable.