Buried in Homework

Ryan Bridgman, Tangents Editor

Homework is an unfortunate reality of high school. Every student at Lee, at one point, has had a complaint about this grueling task.

With after school obligations, time is scarce, and fitting homework in those small slots seems almost impossible, especially with students involved in sports and clubs who may stay after school as late as 6:00 PM. 

When you factor in a healthy 10:00 PM bedtime, the student is left with only four hours to: eat dinner, do chores, get ready for bed, and anything else involved in their evening routines. All while still needing to do homework.

 In my own experience, it takes me an average of around two hours each night to do my homework. This time frame often leaves me struggling to finish my homework.

Students are left with the decision of either staying up late or waking up early to complete their homework. Both of these choices would force the student to miss his or her target sleep time.

Whether we like it or not, homework is essential to our learning. However, there are many changes that teachers could make regarding the homework policy. 

The most obvious change is a reduction in the amount of homework being given out. This would allow students more time to partake in after school sports, clubs, and employment while still having time to complete their work.

Junior Ben Wang believes that it is unfair that Lee teachers do not take into consideration the homework demands that students face in their other classes.

“Sometimes, teachers grade it too harshly, and they give out too much and do not take into account other teachers that give out the same amount, which makes it really hard on the students,” Wang said.

There are many different forms of homework, but some are more interesting for students than others. For many, it is harder for them to do homework in which they have no interest. 

Wang also finds homework hard to do if he is not engaged by the course.

“[Homework] is very hard to like if you don’t understand it,” Wang said.

My favorite type of homework has been watching informative and entertaining videos created by my biology teacher, Kathryn Kallfa, as part of a flipped classroom format. 

Biology is not the only subject at Lee to offer a flipped classroom format. Classes like AP Government have to teach a lot of material in a very little amount of time so they can successfully accomplish this in a flipped classroom.

 In this format, information is not rushed to the student’s brain; the students are able to learn at their own pace.

History teacher, Patrick O’Brien is flexible with homework completion before summative assignments and accepts that students may have other commitments as part of the history department. 

“All the social studies classes now are allowing all late work until the summative assessment. So if students have scheduling issues or something comes up, they still have time to make up other assignments which usually helps a lot of students get in late work,” O’Brien said.

Wang sees the benefits of homework as a source of enrichment.

 “I think homework is essential because you need to do homework as independent practice, which is a big part of learning,” Wang said.

O’Brien stresses the importance of homework to his students’ learning and reflects back on his own learning. 

“Homework is an important time to practice. When I was growing up, homework helped me cement what I learned throughout the day,” O’Brien said.

Wang also sees homework as a way for students to take responsibility for their learning. “Some teachers don’t teach well, and homework is a good way to teach myself,” Wang said.

In order to balance the quantity of homework with teacher expectations, changes in curriculum must be made on the county-level. This can be done through the Fairfax County School Board and possibly the state’s Department of Education. A state-wide decision to lower the curriculum demands for some classes or raise the number of school days could be made for more classroom time.

Teachers need to use good practices to make sure students are engaged by homework and not bored or frustrated. 

While homework is essential, Lee’s homework practices need some improvements. The answer would be to simply limit homework and make existing homework more entertaining, therefore lightening the load and reducing stress on students and teachers.