Quality Over Quantity: Why giving students less homework can be a good thing.

A dive into the life of a modern high-schooler and the stresses behind American education.

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Caleb Webb

A depiction of what the average student’s workload looks like on a nightly basis.

Caleb Webb, Staff Writer

One of the best sounds of the day is the bell that rings at 2:40 when classes for the day have concluded. The time when most people would expect the day to be over, but in my case it is far from that.

After school I pack up all my things, and shove them vigorously in my backpack so that I can rush over to baseball practice. When I finally make my way to my car, I plop down in my seat and close my eyes for seconds, just to get any feeling of relaxation to last for the rest of my day.

As I hastily drive down to the baseball field, I pull into my typical parking spot and speedily throw on my practice clothes. Already mentally strained, why not add physical exhaustion to the mix? Don’t get me wrong, I love every sport I play, but it gets tiresome.

Finally, at the conclusion of practice, the rest of my day consists of the drive home, a shower, food, and then homework, in that order.

After getting home at around 6:30 and finishing my shower and meal around 7:30. It is nearly impossible to get myself to focus after being mentally and physically fatigued, and it is especially difficult to focus on homework. The first instinct is always to procrastinate, but that always carries to the next day of more procrastination.

How could I possibly finish 50 problems of busy work, a 30 page history reading, and read and annotate a 200 page academic text? You simply can’t and teachers do not understand.  ”

Why must we be sent home with worksheets and book problems day-after-day when we spend seven hours a day and 180 days a year at school?

A common saying comes to mind “be a kid while you have the chance,” something that most children have heard millions of times. But how can I possibly live my life as a kid, like I am constantly told to do, if the rest of my day is for the simple purpose to slave away at homework in my room?

Time and time again, American students continually rank near the middle or bottom among industrialized nations when it comes to performance in math and science according to The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Why do you think this is?

With the typical American mentality, we are too stubborn to take these facts into consideration and make change for the better.

Even though Eastern Asian countries such as China, Singapore, and Japan are always around the top of the scale, when it comes to education, they are not considered particularly healthy. They work more, study harder, and live less. Which explains their typically high rankings because their whole lives are based around education.

But a country such as Finland, who has been enforcing a educational reform with the purpose to revolutionize the ways education is introduced, is making an influential move for education. According to the PISA, they have passed the United States on academic ranking and are easily on their way to begin contesting the prestigious Eastern Asian countries.

But what is so unique about Finland and their education system that makes them so different?

In Finland, there is no need to fill in those pesky multiple choice bubbles. There are no standardized tests, no ISTEP, PSAT, SAT, NWEA, or ACT, there is one test called the National Matriculation Exam which is voluntary and much like our SAT. However, it is not required in order to attend a university.

They also have an incredibly high bar set for teachers, with one of the highest pay rates in comparison to the education system. Teachers also have the ability to create their own curriculum and grading scale.

According to the OECD, “Finland remains among the top performers in PISA 2017.” Students in Finland have the “least amount of outside work and assessments than any other student in the world.” And OECD studies show that on average only half an hour a night on assignments from school.

So let’s address the question again… why is Finland’s education system on such a vigorous rise? One reason is because of the simple fact that they do not swamp their students with useless busy work or standardized tests. They educate their adolescents with hands-on and interactive material that doesn’t put them to sleep.

From personal experience, a more laid back and interactive class is a much more inviting environment for learning and cooperation, things I will actually need in today’s workforce. But as for those other types of classes that pile busy work on top of tests that stress rote memorization, I tend to be more stressed and unwilling to learn.

The United States needs a new way of education that suits the modern child, or else mental illness in teens will continue to increase. Teachers, adapt your curriculum to make learning fun, rather than swamping it with busy work and making it discouraging to the average student.

Remember that we need time to be “kids” while we still can.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the GENESIS staff. Reach Caleb Webb at [email protected]