Dear Mr. President,
In today’s generation teenagers can no longer be teenagers. Instead, our lives revolve around school. We; students, spend roughly ten hours a day on schoolwork, leaving no time for our brains to relax and destress. We have to go to school everyday, do homework every night, most us are involved in some type of extracurricular activity after school, and many of us even play sports, leaving our schedules extremely busy. The amount of time students are spending on homework, should be our time to wind down from the stressful day, by doing what we want. Whether it's cooking dinner with my mom in the kitchen, walking my dogs, or snuggling on the couch with a blanket and good book. It has been found that the exceedingly high amounts of homework that teachers expect students to finish are causing an array of problems within our generation. Recently, Stanford students conducted a study regarding the affects homework is having on today's teens. They found that homework is taking away from the time children should be sleeping, increasing the amount of stress seen in children, triggering an assortment of health issues, as well as causing students to not meet their developmental needs. Does this sound beneficial?
Sleep deprivation has become a large health epidemic among teenagers due to the amount of homework teens are expected to finish on a daily basis. It is crucial that teenagers get at least 8-10 hours of sleep every night. Without the proper amount of sleep, the important body functions and brain activities that occur during this time can be can be altered, heavily affecting one's health. I found that only 16/96 students, get 8 hours of sleep per night. Therefore, 85% of the teens surveyed aren't meeting the proper amount of sleep they need. Similarly, nationwidechildren.org, found that the average teen gets approximately 7 hours of sleep. On top of their busy schedules, students are having to spend hours on homework in order to meet the deadlines on their assignments and receive good grades. It’s hard for students to find enough time in the day to fit in school, extra-curricular activities, sports, jobs, homework, dinner, and 8-10 hours of sleep, while having to get up at 6 a.m. the next morning just to make it to school on time. Most students find themselves having a hard time trying to balance it all. What many people don’t realize is that sleep is food for your brain. Just like you need air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat, you need sleep, otherwise harmful and deadly consequences can occur. The Sleep Foundation found that not getting the proper amount of sleep, “Limits your ability to learn, listen, concentrate, and solve problems,” key things that students are required to do everyday inside of the classroom. Imagine if students were able to reach their full potential and perform at their best 100% of the time because getting enough sleep wasn’t a problem? Not only is the lack of sleep affecting teens during their schoolwork, but it is also affecting them behind the wheel. As students enter high school, many begin learning how to drive. At 16, many students get their license and start driving themselves to and from school everyday. The Sleep Foundation found that drowsiness as well as falling asleep at the wheel has contributed to more than 100,000 car crashes every year. Unfortunately, many students find themselves driving places when they are exhausted. The 85% who aren’t getting enough sleep are at a higher risk to accidents and injuries according to UCLA’S Sleep Center study. Homework is putting students lives on the line. It is important that you, the President, sets a limit as to how much homework students are allowed to be assigned. This will cause the amount of car crashes that occur annually to decrease, because not as many students will be driving while sleepy. In addition, a teenager’s behavior, cognitive ability, mood, and even their skin, are also affected by the amount of sleep they get.
Not only is sleep deprivation becoming an issue, it has also been found that various health issues affecting today's teens such as anxiety, stomach pains, headaches, and weight loss, can all be linked to homework overload. These health issues can affect an individual both mentally and physically, taking a large toll on a teenagers life. 97% of the students I surveyed feel that school causes an immense amount of stress. In addition, Denise Pope, co-author of the study published in the Journal of Experimental Education done by Stanford students, states that she observed a clear connection between the stress that homework was causing students and its physical impacts -- migraines, ulcers, and other stomach issues, in a recent CNN article,”Is Homework Making Your Child Sick?” William Crain, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the City College of New York and author of Reclaiming Childhood: Letting Children Be Children in Our Achievement-Oriented Society, like Pope, found that kids are developing more school-related health issues than ever before. I can personally relate to this, finding that I to, experience health issues associated with the high amount of stress I experience because of school. I am constantly overwhelmed with the abundance of homework and studying I have to do on a day to day basis being in all honors classes. I have definitely noticed that more often than not, I wake up with an excruciating migraine the day of a test and I always get extremely bad stomach aches when I am up late doing homework.
During teenage years, teens begin stages of development that will shape the rest of their lives. When students are constantly working on homework, they are lacking opportunity to “develop and cultivate their critical life skills.” This includes spending time with their families, pursuing hobbies, socializing, and having downtime as well as play. Students aren’t being given enough time to expand their inner creativity and natural curiosity, instead they are being given hours of homework because “teachers are under greater pressure than ever before to assign more homework from the administrators and the desire for high scores on standardized tests,” according to Nancy Kalish. In Nancy Kalish’s article “Parents Should Take Action Against Excessive Homework” published in Opposing Viewpoints in Context, she writes, “Too much homework means that kids are missing out on active playtime, which is essential for learning social skills, proper brain development, and warding off childhood obesity.” It is just as important that teenagers are granted time to spend in different areas to develop and expand their knowledge as it is getting an education. It’s not just their education, but also these critical skills, that will get them far places in life. Teenagers need time to socialize, explore their passions and interests, and make memories, and today’s students aren’t getting enough time to do that. On the weekends, when students are supposed to have fun, they are still being overloaded with homework. Author and magazine editor, Wendy J. Pointe, states that she watches her daughters weekends go by in a blur of homework. I feel the exact same way. My Sundays consist of nothing but homework just like Wendy Pointe’s daughter. From the time I wake up until the time I go to bed, I work on homework. Whether I am reading, writing an essay, studying, or doing a chemistry packet, I am always finishing school related assignments on Sundays, instead of hanging out with my family, socializing with friends, or doing things that I love to do. Our country needs creators and innovators, but if students aren’t ever given the opportunity to develop these skills, we cannot expect to progress and advance as a nation.
Mr. President don’t you want our generation to be as healthy and happy as possible? It’s important that you begin to take initiative and help our generation by limiting the amount of homework that we are assigned on a daily basis. Homework is causing more consequences than it is benefiting us. It is leaving students stressed, sleep deprived, and sick, instead of gearing us towards success. We are our country's next creators, leaders, and innovators. But if we aren’t happy and healthy how are we going to be able to be successful? We are the next generation who will impact and lead our country. For the future of our country, set a limit on the amount of homework students are allowed to have. We should be able to have lives around school. Have you ever noticed that preschoolers love school, where as highschoolers dread it? Have you ever wondered why? Over the years, our creativity and desire to learn is being crushed. Replacing it is sleep deprivation, health issues, and stress, because teachers tend to believe that “More is better.” Although Harris Cooper, a Duke University professor of psychology and neuroscience found that more isn’t better after all. Not only will mandating “no homework” benefit students, it will also benefit our teachers. By giving us less homework, teachers will have less grading to do, which will allow them time to plan more engaging and creative lessons. It’s time America’s education system seeks a change. Canada, France, and Finland, have already began putting policies in place, and it's time we do to.
Sophomore at Clarkston High School