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Homework over break: beneficial or a pain for students?

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‘I’ll get this done as soon as possible,’ I think every time teachers hand out break assignments.

“Oh my god, I procrastinated again,” I groan out at seven p.m the day before school starts.

I’m sure this scenario is relatable to any student.

Every high school student has felt the panic of a deadline rapidly approaching and having zero work completed. Homework is a stress everyone endures, and I believe it is a necessary evil, but not so much during Thanksgiving, winter, spring, and summer break.

Many teachers think breaks are the perfect opportunity to give hours of work, but the popular belief numerous teachers have that all teens do is sleep and watch television is an unfair assumption. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 21 million adolescents were employed in 2017. Many teenagers not only have to balance homework with their social life, but their jobs as well.

Teachers argue that homework over break is a must in order to cover all material by AP tests or the end of the school year, but if it is a must, then why, according to Pasi Sahlberg, former director general in the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, is the outcome United States ranking 21 out of 34 developed countries in student’s performance in math and science? Finland ranks third with their education system being known for minimal homework and shorter school days.

If homework is beneficial to our success, shouldn’t the United States rank on top of a country that does not emphasize the “importance” of homework? With the hours of work American teens put in after school, most would assume that our test scores would reflect that. But it does not.

During breaks, many families travel while teenagers finally have time to spare—or, are supposed to have time to spare.

Traveling while homework is on your mind is not a fun trip for anybody. Seeing the world is an important experience for one’s growth, and teens should be able to soak up those rare opportunities.

“Standing in front of paintings by Velazquez, Goya, and Rubens was an amazing experience,” said junior Kayla Canare, who traveled to Spain, Portugal, and England last summer. “But, I was unable to fully admire this once in a lifetime opportunity with the thought of homework constantly bugging me.”

“The earlier that young people learn the lessons that foreign travel teaches, the better,” stated Helen Lewis, a Head Teacher in Great Britain. “The skills and experience that are gained can provide life-long benefits.”

According to Larry Alton, a professional writer and graduate of Iowa State University, benefits of traveling include increased health, relieved stress, enhanced creativity, boosted happiness and satisfaction, and lowered risk of depression.

“Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,” said Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, who has been a part of several studies linking creativity and international travel.

Traveling is not the only thing that may occupy students during breaks. Holidays are also when families come in to visit. This past break my older sister, who is in the Air Force, came to visit, as well as my older brother, who resides in Oakland. It’s rare to have most of the family together, and I wanted to spend time cherishing their visit—not cooped up in my room with papers flying everywhere and textbooks sprawled across my desk. But that’s what it was.

The school year is stressful enough with the hours of homework on a daily basis. Teens need the rest that breaks should give. The average amount of sleep students get is between seven and seven and a half hours when teenagers are supposed to get about nine hours of sleep.

Homework can’t and shouldn’t be totally eliminated, but it should at least be minimal during breaks.

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