Death: The Emphasis on Homework

The State News

A student diligently studying, as many Charlotte Latin School students do each night. Photo by

Written By Ana Burk and Jaya Iyer



Now imagine this type of problem in your math homework for two hours, and then add in the hour you have for English, forty-five minutes for history, an hour of science and forty-minutes of a world language and however much time you use to study. Then repeat that everyday for a whole school year. Even if you have after school activities for two or more hours, all of this is still due by the next day for a grade. Is this overwhelming schedule too much for students, or is it necessary for their success later in life?

According to, no one knows who exactly invented homework, but they do know that the word and experience dates back to Ancient Rome. Once the 19th century came along, German students were given assignments to complete outside of the school day and the idea soon spread across homework. In the early 1900s, educational theorists decried homework’s negative impact on children’s physical and mental health, which led to California banning homework for students under 15 from 1901 to 1917. In the 1930s, homework was described as similar to child labor, which had just been made illegal—the most important argument against it was that kids needed time to do household chores. Then, in the 1950s, homework became a favored thing in the US because of the Cold War and the need to compete with the Soviet Union. The US government included homework as an education quality boosting tool, starting from 1986. Due to recent studies that came out in 2014 through present day and with the pandemic presenting homework in a negative light, the question still remains on how effective homework is.

In a survey, the amount of time spent on homework at Charlotte Latin is three hours or 30–35 minutes per class. However, only 25% of responses were from juniors and seniors, who have significantly more responsibilities and homework, lowering the average. Grace Finn ‘25 said, “Latin mostly does well at this compared to public schools but the whole system has too much emphasis on homework.” The average amount of homework for high schools in the US amounts to around 2.7 hours per weeknight and 3 hours per weekend according to a study of 50,000 students by the Washington Post and 4 hours according to a study by the Penny Press on Bellaire High School. The range included 0 to 9 hours. 

According to and there are ways homework helps. Despite the hatred many individuals feel towards homework, there are some benefits included. It teaches students about time management, problem solving, how to set priorities, and how to work independently. As long as the quality of homework is sufficient, it provides extra practice to help material stick. Additionally, homework helps teachers figure out how well the lessons are being understood by the students. Boston University’s Alumni Magazine said, “Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school.”

Even though homework has its benefits, the amount the majority of students have is too much, which is harming kids. Youki Terada from Edutopia wrote, “When students spend too much time on homework—more than two hours each night—it takes up valuable time to rest and spend time with family and friends. A 2013 study found that high school students can experience serious mental and physical health problems, from higher stress levels to sleep deprivation, when assigned too much homework. Homework in high school should always relate to the lesson and be doable without any assistance, and feedback should be clear and explicit.” A study from the Washington Post of 18,000 sophomores discovered that the amount of time spent on homework did not affect student’s grades in math and science, but while it is not directly linked, certain types of homework problems could better prepare students for standardized tests. Smithsonian Magazine dives deeper into this by cutting the limit off at one hour per day. Once homework exceeds 100 minutes, a study that they cited by the University of Oviedo recorded that test scores decrease.

 Too much homework harms more than it helps. Stanford News wrote,  “A Stanford researcher found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance and even alienation from society. More than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive, according to the study.” Clifton B. Parker, the writer of the article, explains how the average amount of homework in households is 3.1 hours each night. Having this much homework leads to a fair amount of it being busy work, and it discourages learning. If there is too much and it has no benefit, there is no point and it just worsens mental and physical health. CNN examined a study in which 56% of students said that homework is the main cause of stress in their lives. Denise Pope from the Stanford Graduate School of Education who wrote about the study said, “We found a clear connection between the students’ stress and physical impacts – migraines, ulcers and other stomach problems, sleep deprivation and exhaustion, and weight loss.” Oxford Learning reiterated this and added, “Excessive homework can also result in poor eating habits, with families choosing fast food as a faster alternative.”

Many students feel a crushing pressure from homework at Latin. Alaric Pan ‘23 said, “The homework amount in general has just deeply affected my sleep and made me perform a lot worse in everything. It’s gotten to the point that 7 hours of sleep, which is already below the recommended amount, is a lot of sleep for me, and I feel like I’m functioning at at most 60% capacity every day.” Similarly, Ivy Monk ‘24 said, “I think it stresses me out more and a lot of the time it doesn’t relate to what we’re doing in class.” Kate Fultz ‘22 believes that homework has a negative impact overall on her life. “It helps when we are actually taking in new info, like doing assigned reading, or working on something that we continue in class, but when it is just doing something we already learned or that we will cover again the next day, it feels superfluous. It makes things worse though because it hinders my sleep schedule so I’m always tired, which hurts my in-class performance, and limits my ability to do certain extracurriculars. I also have less time to do independent study for classes I need it in,” Fultz said.

Edutopia stated that the 10 minute rule should be applied for homework, multiplying the grade number by 10, which has been backed by many experts. Using this, 9th graders would have 90 minutes of homework per night, 10th graders would have 100 minutes, 11th graders would have 110 minutes, and 12th graders would have 120 minutes of homework. This guideline is supported by The National PTA and the National Education Association. No student would ever reach a level of more than 2 hours. Clearly, Charlotte Latin is way above the recommended amount for everyone. Harris Cooper, a Professor at Duke University, said, “A good way to think about homework is the way you think about medications or dietary supplements. If you take too little, they’ll have no effect. If you take too much, they can kill you. If you take the right amount, you’ll get better.”

One extreme measure is to completely eliminate homework. Scott Anderson, a high school math teacher, noticed that his students were not doing well on their homework because they focused on getting it done in time rather than doing it right. When he implemented the no homework policy and gave students practice problems in class, standardized test scores showed that close to 100% of students were prepared for college math as opposed to only 70% with lots of homework in place. As well, no homework boosts standardized test scores. The only issue that arose was that students could no longer count on their homework grade to boost their overall class score. 

For those who are worried about students not being on par with academic standards, homework can be made optional. It also teaches students to take responsibility and be held accountable for their actions. It can prepare students for the expectation in college and it allows them to practice in areas they lack understanding instead of pointlessly reviewing what they already know. The only question this brings up is if teachers should have to spend time creating and grading homework if students are not guaranteed to do it. In a study done in 2007, results showed that with optional homework, teachers achieved better relationships with their students, positive feelings towards learning and increased in-class engagement.

There are other options as well. Homework could be distributed every other day for each class. Every class would have an assigned day that they could give homework; for example, math, history and electives could give homework on A days, and science, English, and world language could give homework on B days. The system would be similar to our testing day schedule so it would be easily implemented. Other schools have block schedules, giving them three to four classes per day, which allows them to have homework in less classes each day.  “Giving homework is okay in reasonable amounts. It’s important to have nights with no homework in each class — not a night with no homework at all but no English one day, the next no history, and so on, so you’re not totally swamped with work from any one class. Basically, teachers need to cooperate with each other on assigning homework so that two big projects or tests that require lots of homework, studying, and work outside of school don’t end up on the same day or week. The rotational system for assessments is great for this. The teachers need to talk to each other and talk to their students. Communication is key.” Said Grace Finn. 

Another option is homework extensions. Students would be given a certain number of passes per class for the whole year and when they have too much homework, they can have a break without hurting their grades. The homework grade would be put at n/a or not included in the grade book. This obviously wouldn’t be applicable to home tests/quizzes on projects that require at home work. In order to prevent homework from piling up, it should be limited to fifteen minutes per day per class. If a teacher needs students to complete a task longer than this, they should create time in class for students to work on their homework. This not only gives them the opportunity to finish it in class and work on projects or study at home, but also lets them ask their questions on the homework and get help. Robby Ghette ‘24 said, “Homework lets me review the topics I’ve learned throughout the day, but challenges me because I’m working all on my own. However, the fact that I’m working all on my own and can’t really talk to my teachers as I work makes homework really frustrating sometimes.”

The last idea, which could be implemented with others, is to have an 8:15 a.m. deadline for homework to be posted so that students who have their free period early in the day can get their homework done. What is the point of having a free period first, second, or third if students have not received their homework yet?

Additionally, the Washington Post advises that homework should not be distributed on weekends, school breaks, or nights of school events, such as major sports games that everyone is encouraged to attend, concerts and other performances. This would help generate more school spirit. Homework should also not be due the day a sick student returns to school; how else are they supposed to recover?

As there are many pros and cons to homework, it is hard to make a life changing decision in either direction. It is difficult for students to manage due to the average amount of homework students currently have. The Upper School students of Charlotte Latin say that they want an average of twenty-five minutes per class. These solutions serve as compromises to avoid either extreme of giving no homework or assigning an overload. It is always important to put the health of the students in the Charlotte Latin community first.