Homework takes toll on stressed students’ health

By Alexis Gavrelis

     The children of today’s society have been groomed to believe that homework helps, but what happens when homework actually hurts?

     It is no secret that massive amounts of homework are every high schooler’s worst curse. Students wade through their school day, run to the locker rooms for practice, sprint from practice to their part-time jobs, and make it home just in time to shove some food in their mouths and make it into bed before sunrise. But wait. They still have hours upon hours of homework that is due by first period, tomorrow.

     Walk into any given homeroom on any given morning and you can hear the groans of overly tired students, grumbling about all the unfinished homework they have yet to complete.

     Scroll through twitter feeds, facebook walls, any other social media network, and the reoccuring theme is impossible to miss—students everywhere are drowning in seas of homework.

     Kaitlyn Lamp (12) tweeted, “Senior year is not supposed to be this stressful!” and Layne Litsinger (11) followed suit by tweeting “Loving all this English homework…not.”

     This has to bring up the question, is this lifestyle healthy? Human bodies can only take so much stress, and, if students aren’t allowing themselves proper sleeping, eating, and resting time— their bodies will show it. Well, researchers have been doing their homwork on homework and studies are revealing that homework overload causes more harm than good.

     A particular study conducted by Mollie K. Galloway and Denise Pope took a closer look at the link between homework and well-being. To do this, Galloway and Pope took a sample of 496 students from two suburban high schools and asked them to complete a survey assessing their self-reported mental health, physical health, stress level, homework load, and school achievement. When the survey was completed and the results computed, 67.8% (Galloway, Pope & Osberg 2007) of the students surveyed claimed that schoolwork and homework were the largest causes of stress in their lives; the average time spent on homework per night was over three hours, and 77.4% reported having a stress-related health problem within the last month (i.e. headaches, sleep-loss, fatigue).

     Aside from stress, the National Eating Disorder Association states that cases of eating disorders have been on the rise for nearly a century, with school-aged children feeling the impact of that rise full-force. In most cases, an individual who suffers from an eating disorder is likely to report low self-esteem and an overpowering need for control.

     Abby Wenck, a recent graduate of Hereford, spoke openly last year to some of the health classes about her battle with an eating disorder. She said, “I felt that athletics, specifically at Hereford, was such a big part of school life and I [felt] that I needed to be the best.” The road to perfection is paved with enormous roadblocks- tryouts, tests, social gatherings; the difficulty of keeping up with a packed and stressful lifestyle. If students feel this pressured to be the best, hours and hours of homework only add to the pressure. Something has got to give.

     “I picked up this nasty cold a few weeks into school” said Megan Ganovski (12), “I feel like with all the new stressors of the school year, everyone’s immune systems weren’t ready to fight off the back-to-school germs.”

     The pressure to be perfect can cause serious strain not just mentally, but physically as well. With hectic lives, body image woes, and homework overload, there is little to no room for error. That’s a lot of pressure—even for the most goal-oriented of people.

     In a world where homework is the key to success, are the keys becoming entirely too large for student’s to carry?

     It would be implausible to suggest that homework assignments should become a thing of the past because although excessive amounts of homework can be harmful, the right amount does help students succeed. The problem becomes juggling incessant essay writing, note taking, number calculating, and book reading ALL ontop of the hectic everyday life the average high school student leads.

     “Some homework just doesn’t help us any and it would be nice if teachers cut us some slack. It’s difficult to juggle everything,” said Jack Adams (12.)