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The Pressure to Succeed

Updated April 21, 2022
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The Pressure to Succeed essay

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Students are feeling more stressed than working adults. The homework load, extracurricular activities, and family life can be too much for one student to handle. Schools and colleges are expecting too much from students, and the side effects of all this stress can be harmful. This overload leads to excessive amounts of stress, sleep deprivation, and depression. Something needs to be changed. But how?

Teachers have given homework to their students for decades. It’s not something can just simply disappear. It is a helpful way for students to exceed in their learning. “Homework can help students practice what they have learned in class, prepare for new learning, expand their study of a subject, apply information or skills they have learned, and practice using resources such as libraries and the internet” (“Homework”). It is a way for students to reinforce what they have learned in the classroom, and allows them to take the skills they have learned and expand their knowledge at home. Giving deadlines and projects to students can also be beneficial to them as they grow into working adults. They can develop skills such as time management, self discipline, and good work habits. Students are also encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities where they can meet new people, be active, and work hard to achieve. All of these things help students grow into hardworking, successful adults. However for most students, going to school, staying after for an extracurricular activity, and completing homework ends up being more than they can handle. So instead of just getting all of these benefits of life skills, they are compiled with a huge amount of stress.

When too much homework is given, students are shown to not retain the information they are being taught. They are instead so stressed about getting the work done, nothing else seems important. Experts have even said that too much homework will not do students any good. “Researchers from the University of Oviedo in Spain looked at the performance of 7,725 public, state-subsidized, and private school students in the principality of Asturias in northern Spain” (“How”). In their research, they found doing one to two hours of homework each night has shown to be the most effective on students’ grades. When assigned more than the recommended amount, students stop trying to understand what they are doing, and instead they focus on trying to complete it. Here, there is no information learned. The only thing these kids are being taught is to complete their work. Hence, students lose their interest in learning. They have no desire to learn and apply new information, and all together, let their grades slip. To make matters worse, these researchers are finding that a lot of the reason students are doing so much homework is because they are stuck doing little assignments known as busy work.

A lot of the work that students are doing is taking up so much time that there is not much left to do the important things, like spending time with family. They are given so much busy work that they are literally always busy; “Assignments involving simple worksheets with blanks to fill in or facts to memorize do little to teach anything besides how to memorize and repeat facts, experts say” (“Homework”). This busy work is taking up valuable time needed to do homework for classes that can teach kids more valuable information. It is proven that most of the busy work assigned is not doing anything to improve kids’ learning. “It is recommended focusing on more practical assignments instead of worksheets and problem sets often criticized as busy work” (Staff). Instead, students are learning things that have no application to the real world; “It is suggested to have kids use math to build a birdhouse, or calculate money needed to buy a toy at the store, or balance a checkbook” (Staff). Kids are only memorizing facts, not learning things that will later help them in the real world. Students spend so much of their time doing these assignments, they become overly stressed and sleepless, leading to negative side effects on their health.

The amount of stress put on kids to succeed academically is too much for them to handle. All of this stress is leaving them with some unhealthy side effects— a big one being not enough sleep; “Students ages 13-18 need to get eight to ten hours of sleep each night. 97% say they get less than seven hours” (“Better”). This loss of valuable sleep is very effective on students’ learning. The effects of short term sleep deprivation are poor memory, irritability, tiredness, and a big one: difficulty concentrating (Duncan). These are just the short term effects. The long term effects are much worse; Today, it is well accepted that even though the primary function of sleep is rest and restoration, it is a complex and dynamic process that has considerable effects on the cardiovascular system” (Cakici et al). If the heart is being affected over school work, then there is definitely an issue in the amount students are taking on. Sleep is so important for kids, but school work is holding them back from healthy amounts of it. Without getting enough sleep, their developing brains cannot function to their maximum ability (Cakici et al). Hence, their grades start to drop, and all because there was too much homework given to them in the first place; “Homework is the number one cause of teenage stress, negatively affecting their sleep and ultimately impacting their academic performance” (“Better”). More homework leads to more stress. Which leads to less sleep. Less sleep impacts the quality of work. When the quality of work drops, the grades drop. It is a continuous cycle. All of this leaves students frustrated and exhausted. They lack of time for extra curricular activities, family time, and sadly, no interest in learning (Staff). Students have no drive anymore to do well in school. And this is leading to even more serious problems:“Rates of mental health problems among students have increased steadily over the past 10 to 15 years” (Coiro et al). This can lead to sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression. This is especially affecting college students. With all their stressful classes and finals, it can all be too much to handle; “Given the salience of stress in the lives of many college students, the ways students cope with stress may be a critical factor in determining who is adversely affected and may serve as a target for interventions to increase resilience and prevent mental health disorders” (Coiro et al). When the stress to achieve is creating mental health problems, it is definitely a problem that needs to be solved. Unfortunately, many do not know that student stress starts much earlier than one think.

Kids who are in the first and second grade have three times the amount homework load than recommended (Staff). Children at this age need time to go outside and explore their interests, it be cooped inside with worksheets to do. “Kindergartens- who shouldn’t have any homework, according to the National Education Associations recommendation- work and average of 25 minutes a night” (Staff). 25 minutes does not seem like a lot, but for a four or five year old when outside free time is essential for their growing minds, these 25 minutes is simply too much. Most of the homework given to kids this young end up having their parents doing it. It becomes too difficult for them, so the parent steps in to help (Zalaznick). When this happens, these kids are obviously not going to learn anything, so why should they even have it? The amount of homework given to a student should increase by 10 minutes each year. So if the amount is already at 25 minutes in kindergarten, the older students are getting even more than recommended already (Zalaznick). However when calculated out, high school students are given almost double the amount they should be assigned. So how much is too much?

With the pressure for students to succeed academically growing higher and higher, students are failing to keep up with these expectations. They have no time for themselves, family, or even sleep. The students in these situations are experiencing extremely unhealthy things. Something needs to be changed. When it comes to homework, more is not necessarily better. Even though studies show that homework leads to better test scores, too much can lead to just the opposite (“How”). “How” is more important than “how much.”

Works Cited

“Better Sleep Council Research Finds That Too Much Homework Can Actually Hurt Teens’ Performance In School.” PR Newswire US, December 11, 2018, EBSCO Host,http:web.a. ebscohost.com.proxy.elm4you.orgsrc_icdetaidetailvid=4&sid=d3d04ad8-985f42abadd-e178 ef3efe8e%40sdc-v-sessmgr06&bdata=JnNpdGU9c3JjX2lLWxpdmUmc2NvGU9c2l0ZQ%3 d%3d#AN=201812111630PR.NEWS.USPR.CL99348&db=cmh.

Cakici, Musa, et al. “Negative Effects of Acute Sleep Deprivation on Left Ventricular Functions and Cardiac Repolarization in Healthy Young Adults.” Pacing & Clinical Electrophysiology, vol. 38, no. 6, June 2015, pp. 713–722. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/pace.12534, http:/web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy.elm4you.org/src_ic/detail/detail?vid=8&sid=e17da75a-1651-4f02 b1ac-7c6d35ce0ed0%40pdc-v-sessmgr06&bdata=JnNpdGU9c3JjX2ljLWxpdmUmc2N vcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#AN=102989332&db=cmh.

Coiro, Mary, et al. “College Students Coping with Interpersonal Stress: Examining a Control Based Model of Coping.” Journal of American College Health, Vol. 65 Issue 3, April 2017, EBSCO Host, http://content.ebscohost.com/ContentServer.aspT=P&P=AN&K=121774626 &S=R&D=cmh&EbscoContent=dGJyMNXb4kSep7E4xNvgOLCmr1Gep7BSs6m4SbeWx WXS&ContentCustomer=dGJyMPGptEmxr65MuePfgeyx8Yrh1ed7.

Duncan, Debbie. “SLEEP: Health Guide.” Good Health (Australia Edition), Aug. 2018, pp. 37 46. EBSCOhost, http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.elm4you.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cmh&AN=130614558&site=srcpass:[_]ic-live&scope=site,http:web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy. elm4you.org/src_ic/detail/detail?vid=9&sid=e17da75a-1651-4f02-b1ac-7c6d35ce0ed0%40pdc-v-sessmgr06&bdata=JnNpdGU9c3JjX2ljLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#AN =130614558&db=cmh.

‘Homework.’ Gale Student Resources in Context, Gale, 2018, Research in Context, http:/ link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/QRVQZY947447364/MSICu=mnsminitex&sid=MSIC&xid=21221de0.

“How Much Math, Science Homework Is Too Much?” Education Digest, vol. 81, no. 2, Oct. 2015, p. 16. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=f5h&AN=109 031691&site=ehost-live, http://web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy.elm4you.org/ehost/detail/detail vid=2&sid=f635c5fc-63c5-4ce7-8055-553236d7c034%40sessionmgr102&bdata=JnNpd GU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=109031691&db=f5h.

Staff Sarah Caspari. “How Much Homework Is Too Much?” Christian Science Monitor, 13 Aug. 2015, p. N.PAG. EBSCOhost, http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.elm4you.org/login.aspx? direct=true&db=pwh&AN=108900611&site=srcpass:[_]ic-live&scope=site.

Zalaznick, Matt. “Homework Overhaul.” Education Digest, vol. 84, no. 3, Nov. 2018, p. 29. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.comlogin.aspxdirect=true&db=f5h&AN=132333833&site =ehost-live, http://web.a.ebscohost.com.proxy.elm4you.org/ehost/detail/detail? vid=3&sid=05b9dcb0-9972-4da8-806d-3131105e1484%40sdc-vsessmgr03&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=132333833&db=f5h.

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