By Will Nash '20
“Ugh, I have to pull an all -nighter to work on this English essay.” “This math problem set is going to take literally four hours.” “Do I even have enough time tonight to finish the reading for AmLit?” These are all frequent refrains to be heard in the hallways of both St. Albans and NCS, and they offer a window into the rigorous nature of academics here. However, I believe they also provide an interesting commentary on what is expected from students every night, after they depart from school and sports.
It has always struck me as bizarre how much homework both St. Albans and NCS students get each night. On top of the rigorous course load you take during the school day, you are constantly expected to do an additional three to six hours of homework in the confines of our houses. All of us are in the classroom for between five and six hours every day, learning and practicing new material. After sports, most of us get home from school by 6:30pm, and work on homework for the rest of the night. If you do the musical or the play or another extracurricular activity, you might not be starting your homework until 9:30 or 10pm.
This cycle is not sustainable, and is actually detrimental to developing students’ interests outside of the classroom. By assigning exorbitant amounts of homework each night, teachers preclude students from pursuing non-academic activities, such as the play, musical, or Madrigal singers, all of whom practice in the evening, the time when students are most busy with homework. This is not to mention other extracurricular activities outside of school. Frequently, students are reluctant to take too many different activities onto their plates because they are worried this will affect their ability to do their homework at night. Ultimately, students won’t follow their interests and passions because they are afraid of sacrificing valuable time to do the gargantuan amounts of homework they have.
The solution, as I see it, is not for teachers to simply stop assigning homework; quite the contrary, I think homework is a very valuable way to cement one’s knowledge of course material each night. Rather, I think teachers should just be more aware of the fact that their course is not the only course that assigns homework to students each night. They should assign less course work each night so that students can be free to engage in activities that align with their interests outside of the classroom. Maybe instead of assigning “busy” work that is more tedious than it is enlightening, teachers should be more open to not assigning any homework on a particular night. They could also be more understanding about students missing due dates on homework because of extracurricular commitments.
The opening line of the St. Albans mission statement reads: “We believe that learning extends beyond the classroom, to the chapel, the athletic field, the stage, and the refectory.” In order to live up to the avowed aim of the school, St. Albans teachers should seriously consider whether the amount of homework they assign each night hampers students from truly experiencing what is “beyond the classroom.”