A couple of weeks ago, our school had its first official “homework pause.” What is a homework pause, you might ask? Teachers gave students about a week (with an unplanned snow day) to not assign any work past the 12:23 PM bell. Yes you heard right: no new assignments!
Understanding that students are spending their entire day on a computer screen, teachers banded together to allow a reprieve. As the end of the second quarter was quickly approaching, teachers allowed students to focus on their current work, slowing down the quick pace of virtual learning, allowing ideas to sink in and settle.
In my opinion, and also in those who were asked about this “homework pause,” it was a very good idea that was both needed and extremely helpful. The end of the quarter usually brings a heightened state of panic for students to make sure all of their assignments are finished and any revisions are completed. While completing work virtually can be exhausting, students needed some time to catch up on assignments that they had missed or needed to complete revisions (which are sometimes optional, but for extra points) . Students were able to just catch our collective breaths and relax a little bit before the end of the quarter, ready to start a new one.
While learning virtually or in the hybrid model, it is easy to misplace an assignment throughout the quarter and not realize its absence until those Infinite Campus grades start popping up. One student said, “It gave me time to catch up on stuff before the quarter ended,” summing up how most of us were also feeling. The end of a quarter can be a really stressful time, as we are all trying to meet certain requirements and achieve certain goals. As an option, some teachers gave us time in class to work on our missing assignments rather than overloading us with new material, deadlines, and unnecessary stress.
This brings up a point that many of us have been pondering for quite some time, some for almost a year now. Is homework itself really a good idea, especially in the midst of a pandemic? According to Time magazine, there has been a standard called the “ten minute rule,” which recommends a daily dose of 10 minutes of homework a day per grade level. If you do the math, high schoolers should be doing anywhere between an hour and a half to two hours of homework each night for all of our classes combined in order to meet the recommended standard.
Both the National PTA and the National Education Association support that recommendation. However, many schools and teachers have been adjusting that guideline due to COVID. Many teachers have opted for a no homework policy, asking that students go outside instead, spend time with family, eat a good dinner, and get a good night’s sleep. In 2006, Harris Cooper, a Duke University psychology professor found a positive correlation between homework and overall older students’ performance in school, meaning that students in seventh through twelfth grades who were given homework had higher tendencies to perform better in school.
However, in the midst of a global pandemic, we’ve all had to adapt and adjust in order to make things work. Sure, the benefits of homework are proven scientifically, but these are unprecedented
times. Everyone is stressed and feeling the emotional toll of the times, with many facing isolation, illness, or loss. In weighing the benefits of homework against the need for mental and emotional health, there is not much of an argument. If little to no homework means that a student’s mental and physical health is better, then maybe that is something we should consider more often. If nothing else, a second pause might be an excellent idea for us all to consider in the immediate future.
The below gallery are the results of an anonymous internet poll taken on 2/25 of Brewster students. There were 269 responses.