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Better Call a Therapist: “Better Call Saul” and Mental Health
With Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s AMC American Drama series Better Call Saul coming to an end later this summer, it’s truly disheartening to see the show go. The old saying is that all good things must eventually come to an end — and, honestly, we can’t think of a more appropriate situation for that adage.
For those not in the know, Better Call Saul is a prequel show to the critically acclaimed pop culture phenomenon that is Breaking Bad . The show follows the humble beginnings of fan-favorite side character and criminal lawyer Jimmy McGill (a.k.a. Saul Goodman, a.k.a. Gene Takavic) as he rises through the ranks of the Albuquerque, New Mexico criminal justice system.
But wait a minute: If Jimmy/Saul/Gene was a side character in Breaking Bad , how did he eventually end up with his own show? Why do audiences and critics like the shady lawyer so much? Do we like him because he’s wildly charismatic? Is it because we feel a connection to his rags-to-riches story? Or is it perhaps, despite how challenging a case might be, Jimmy proves time and time again that he truly is a good liar — we mean lawyer!
With Mental Health Awareness Month having just ended this past May, we thought it would be interesting to speculate about pathological lying and how Better Call Saul explores mental health conditions and mental illness through Jimmy as well as some of the show’s supporting characters.
What Is Pathological Lying?
Sometimes referred to as “pseudologia fantastica” or “mythomania” , medical experts generally agree that lying pathologically cannot be diagnosed. However, they do agree that it can be an early sign of more serious mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, or even depression.
Pathological lying often starts in one’s adolescence . What begins as little white lies in an individual’s youth eventually turns into more intricate and thought-out lies as said individual matures into adulthood. The glaring distinction between a simple white lie and a pathological lie is that white lies typically have a practical justification behind them — whereas pathological lies are seemingly told for no discernible reason.
Why Do We Like Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman/Gene Tacavic?
The writing staff behind Better Call Saul does an excellent job creating a world that feels lived-in and characters that feel believable. Whereas inexperienced writers are likely to mishandle how mental illness is portrayed, this show excels in presenting mental illness in a way where the audience can empathize with the characters.
When we meet Jimmy, he starts out as someone who, at best, bends the rules to suit whatever narrative he’s spinning. At worst, he’s willing to go so far as to leverage his judicial power and otherwise break the law all in favor of getting what he wants. Between Season 1 and Season 6 we see Jimmy’s lies become more and more elaborate and methodical — to the point where you, as a viewer, sometimes believe he’s actually doing the right thing.
Moreover, one could argue that his Saul Goodman persona is a vague attempt to disassociate from any wrongdoing that “Jimmy McGill” is responsible for. With bipolar personality disorder being a potential root of one’s pathological lying, this might not be that big of a stretch.
If you’re familiar with Better Call Saul , the one thing you’re sure to have noticed six seasons in is Jimmy’s charm and charisma. In fact, he’s so charismatic, that he’s able to not only convince a dangerous drug enforcer that he’s a lawyer, but he’s also able to convince said enforcer not to kill two people who were practically as good as dead in the Season 1 episode “Mijo”. From this moment onward, we see Jimmy attempt to justify his lying over and over again.
An example of Jimmy not being able to justify his actions comes in the Season 6 episode “Rock and Hard Place”. In the episode, master pickpocketer Huell Babineuax asks Jimmy why he scams people despite having a legitimate career and happy marriage. In brief, Jimmy’s answer is that he’s doing the lord’s work and that plenty of people will benefit from it later on down the line. Despite Jimmy’s enthusiastic delivery, Huell doesn’t believe the answer and bids Jimmy goodbye.
Better Call Saul ‘s Chuck McGill and Mental Illness
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Chuck McGill. Chuck is Jimmy’s by-the-books-lawyer older brother, who, by the time we meet him, is living with Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). If you’re like us, you’ve probably never heard of EHS prior to this show and immediately assumed Chuck was making the condition up.
While EHS is a real condition , it’s also a fairly rare one; only a few people per million individuals actually have it. Furthermore, statistics show that people in Scandinavian countries are more likely to experience EHS than those who live anywhere else in the world. With all of that said, Chuck was 100 percent certain that he was sensitive to electronics.
Chuck’s conviction was so strong that he wouldn’t leave his house, didn’t use electronic devices of any sort, sent Jimmy to do all of his grocery shopping, and even wore a space blanket. With this many self-imposed protective measures set in place, it’s hard not to think that Chuck’s condition was real — but it wasn’t.
In the Season 3 episode “Chicanery”, we learn that Jimmy conspired to have a cell phone battery planted on him prior to a court hearing. Despite this, Chuck asserts that he’d know if there was a trick being played on him. Once the truth is revealed, Chuck breaks down and scathingly calls out Jimmy’s insincere nature. Instead of laughing at Chuck, you kinda feel awful for the man, despite his contentious relationship with Jimmy.
At the end of the day, Better Call Saul does an excellent job handling its themes, narratives and characters. Considering that there aren’t a wealth of shows that depict mental health and mental illness in a respectful light, we’re grateful this is one of the few shows that does . It doesn’t have a condescending viewpoint toward individuals who may be living with serious mental health conditions. Instead, Better Call Saul may even compel some of its viewers to reevaluate their own mental health.
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Does Homework Cause Stress? Exploring the Impact on Students’ Mental Health
How much homework is too much?
Jump to: The Link Between Homework and Stress | Homework’s Impact on Mental Health | Benefits of Homework | How Much Homework Should Teacher’s Assign? | Advice for Students | How Healium Helps
Homework has become a matter of concern for educators, parents, and researchers due to its potential effects on students’ stress levels. It’s no secret that students often find themselves grappling with high levels of stress and anxiety throughout their academic careers, so understanding the extent to which homework affects those stress levels is important.
By delving into the latest research and understanding the underlying factors at play, we hope to provide valuable insights for educators, parents, and students who are wondering about how much stress homework is causing in their lives.
The Link Between Homework and Stress: What the Research Says
Over the years, numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between homework and stress levels in students.
One study published in the Journal of Experimental Education found that students who reported spending more than two hours per night on homework experienced higher stress levels and physical health issues . Those same students reported over three hours of homework a night on average.
This study, conducted by Stanford lecturer Denise Pope, has been heavily cited throughout the years, with WebMD even producing the below video on the topic– part of their special report series on teens and stress :
Additional studies published by Sleep Health Journal found that long hours on homework on may be a risk factor for depression while also suggesting that reducing workload outside of class may benefit sleep and mental fitness .
Lastly, a study presented by Frontiers in Psychology highlighted significant health implications for high school students facing chronic stress, including emotional exhaustion and alcohol and drug use.
Overall, it appears clear that the answer to whether or not homework is a significant stressor for students is “Yes, depending on the workload assigned to students.” As such, teachers and parents alike should be wary of how much work they are truly putting on the shoulders of teenagers.
Homework’s Impact on Mental Health and Well-being
Homework-induced stress on students is far-reaching and involves both psychological and physiological side effects.
1. Psychological Effects of Homework-Induced Stress:
• Anxiety: The pressure to perform academically and meet homework expectations can lead to heightened levels of anxiety in students. Constant worry about completing assignments on time and achieving high grades can be overwhelming.
• Sleep Disturbances : Homework-related stress can disrupt students’ sleep patterns, leading to sleep anxiety or sleep deprivation, both of which can negatively impact cognitive function and emotional regulation.
• Reduced Motivation: Excessive homework demands can drain students’ motivation, causing them to feel fatigued and disengaged from their studies. Reduced motivation may lead to a lack of interest in learning, hindering overall academic performance.
2. Physical Effects of Homework-Induced Stress:
• Impaired Immune Function: Prolonged stress from overwhelming homework loads can weaken the immune system, making students more susceptible to illnesses and infections.
• Disrupted Hormonal Balance : The body’s stress response triggers the release of hormones like cortisol, which, when chronically elevated due to stress, can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance and lead to various health issues.
• Gastrointestinal Disturbances: Stress has been known to affect the gastrointestinal system, leading to symptoms such as stomachaches, nausea, and other digestive problems.
• Cardiovascular Impact: The increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure associated with stress can strain the cardiovascular system, potentially increasing the risk of heart-related issues in the long run.
• Brain impact: Prolonged exposure to stress hormones may impact the brain’s functioning , affecting memory, concentration, and cognitive abilities.
The Benefits of Homework
It’s important to note that homework also offers several benefits that contribute to students’ academic growth and development, such as:
• Development of Time Management Skills: Completing homework within specified deadlines encourages students to manage their time efficiently. This valuable skill extends beyond academics and becomes essential in various aspects of life.
• Preparation for Future Challenges : Homework helps prepare students for future academic challenges and responsibilities. It fosters a sense of discipline and responsibility, qualities that are crucial for success in higher education and professional life.
• Enhanced Problem-Solving Abilities: Homework often presents students with challenging problems to solve. Tackling these problems independently nurtures critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
However, while homework can foster discipline, time management, and self-directed learning, it is crucial to strike a balance that promotes both academic growth and mental well-being .
How Much Homework Should Teachers Assign?
As a general guideline, educators should be assigning a workload that allows students to grasp concepts effectively without overwhelming them . Quality over quantity is key, ensuring that homework assignments are purposeful, relevant, and targeted towards specific objectives.
Advice for Students: How to balance Homework and Well-being
Finding a balance between academic responsibilities and well-being is crucial for students. Here are some practical tips and techniques to help manage homework-related stress and foster a healthier approach to learning:
• Effective Time Management : Encourage students to create a structured study schedule that allocates sufficient time for homework, breaks, and other activities. Prioritizing tasks and setting realistic goals can prevent last-minute rushes and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.
• Break Tasks into Smaller Chunks : Large assignments can be daunting and may contribute to stress. Students should break such tasks into smaller, manageable parts. This approach not only makes the workload seem less intimidating but also provides a sense of accomplishment as each section is completed.
• Find a Distraction-Free Zone : Establish a designated study area that is free from distractions like smartphones, television, or social media. This setting will improve focus and productivity, reducing time needed to complete homework.
• Be Active : Regular exercise is known to reduce stress and enhance mood. Encourage students to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine, whether it’s going for a walk, playing a sport, or doing yoga.
• Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques : Encourage students to engage in mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, to alleviate stress and improve concentration. Taking short breaks to relax and clear the mind can enhance overall well-being and cognitive performance.
• Seek Support : Teachers, parents, and school counselors play an essential role in supporting students. Create an open and supportive environment where students feel comfortable expressing their concerns and seeking help when needed.
How Healium is Helping in Schools
We find it gratifying to not only explore the impact of homework on stress levels but also to take part in the solution. Our innovative mental fitness tool is playing a role in paving a brighter and more balanced future in education. Schools implementing Healium have witnessed remarkable improvements in student outcomes, from supporting dysregulated students and ADHD challenges to empowering students with body awareness and learning to self-regulate stress .
By providing students with the tools they need to manage stress and anxiety, we represent a forward-looking approach to education that prioritizes the holistic development of every student. Healium not only enhances academic success but also equips students with vital skills that will serve them well beyond the classroom.
To learn more about how Healium works, watch the video below!
About the Author
Sarah Hill , a former interactive TV news journalist at NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates in Missouri, gained recognition for pioneering interactive news broadcasting using Google Hangouts. She is now the CEO of Healium, the world’s first biometrically powered VR/AR channel, helping those with stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other struggles through biofeedback storytelling. With patents, clinical validation, and over seven million views, she has reshaped the landscape of immersive media.
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Is Homework Necessary? Education Inequity and Its Impact on Students
Schools are getting rid of homework from Essex, Mass., to Los Angeles, Calif. Although the no-homework trend may sound alarming, especially to parents dreaming of their child’s acceptance to Harvard, Stanford or Yale, there is mounting evidence that eliminating homework in grade school may actually have great benefits , especially with regard to educational equity.
In fact, while the push to eliminate homework may come as a surprise to many adults, the debate is not new . Parents and educators have been talking about this subject for the last century, so that the educational pendulum continues to swing back and forth between the need for homework and the need to eliminate homework.
The Problem with Homework: It Highlights Inequalities
How much homework is too much homework, when does homework actually help, negative effects of homework for students, how teachers can help.
One of the most pressing talking points around homework is how it disproportionately affects students from less affluent families. The American Psychological Association (APA) explained:
“Kids from wealthier homes are more likely to have resources such as computers, internet connections, dedicated areas to do schoolwork and parents who tend to be more educated and more available to help them with tricky assignments. Kids from disadvantaged homes are more likely to work at afterschool jobs, or to be home without supervision in the evenings while their parents work multiple jobs.”
[RELATED] How to Advance Your Career: A Guide for Educators >>
While students growing up in more affluent areas are likely playing sports, participating in other recreational activities after school, or receiving additional tutoring, children in disadvantaged areas are more likely headed to work after school, taking care of siblings while their parents work or dealing with an unstable home life. Adding homework into the mix is one more thing to deal with — and if the student is struggling, the task of completing homework can be too much to consider at the end of an already long school day.
While all students may groan at the mention of homework, it may be more than just a nuisance for poor and disadvantaged children, instead becoming another burden to carry and contend with.
Beyond the logistical issues, homework can negatively impact physical health and stress — and once again this may be a more significant problem among economically disadvantaged youth who typically already have a higher stress level than peers from more financially stable families .
Yet, today, it is not just the disadvantaged who suffer from the stressors that homework inflicts. A 2014 CNN article, “Is Homework Making Your Child Sick?” , covered the issue of extreme pressure placed on children of the affluent. The article looked at the results of a study surveying more than 4,300 students from 10 high-performing public and private high schools in upper-middle-class California communities.
“Their findings were troubling: Research showed that excessive homework is associated with high stress levels, physical health problems and lack of balance in children’s lives; 56% of the students in the study cited homework as a primary stressor in their lives,” according to the CNN story. “That children growing up in poverty are at-risk for a number of ailments is both intuitive and well-supported by research. More difficult to believe is the growing consensus that children on the other end of the spectrum, children raised in affluence, may also be at risk.”
When it comes to health and stress it is clear that excessive homework, for children at both ends of the spectrum, can be damaging. Which begs the question, how much homework is too much?
The National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association recommend that students spend 10 minutes per grade level per night on homework . That means that first graders should spend 10 minutes on homework, second graders 20 minutes and so on. But a study published by The American Journal of Family Therapy found that students are getting much more than that.
While 10 minutes per day doesn’t sound like much, that quickly adds up to an hour per night by sixth grade. The National Center for Education Statistics found that high school students get an average of 6.8 hours of homework per week, a figure that is much too high according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It is also to be noted that this figure does not take into consideration the needs of underprivileged student populations.
In a study conducted by the OECD it was found that “after around four hours of homework per week, the additional time invested in homework has a negligible impact on performance .” That means that by asking our children to put in an hour or more per day of dedicated homework time, we are not only not helping them, but — according to the aforementioned studies — we are hurting them, both physically and emotionally.
What’s more is that homework is, as the name implies, to be completed at home, after a full day of learning that is typically six to seven hours long with breaks and lunch included. However, a study by the APA on how people develop expertise found that elite musicians, scientists and athletes do their most productive work for about only four hours per day. Similarly, companies like Tower Paddle Boards are experimenting with a five-hour workday, under the assumption that people are not able to be truly productive for much longer than that. CEO Stephan Aarstol told CNBC that he believes most Americans only get about two to three hours of work done in an eight-hour day.
In the scope of world history, homework is a fairly new construct in the U.S. Students of all ages have been receiving work to complete at home for centuries, but it was educational reformer Horace Mann who first brought the concept to America from Prussia.
Since then, homework’s popularity has ebbed and flowed in the court of public opinion. In the 1930s, it was considered child labor (as, ironically, it compromised children’s ability to do chores at home). Then, in the 1950s, implementing mandatory homework was hailed as a way to ensure America’s youth were always one step ahead of Soviet children during the Cold War. Homework was formally mandated as a tool for boosting educational quality in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Education, and has remained in common practice ever since.
School work assigned and completed outside of school hours is not without its benefits. Numerous studies have shown that regular homework has a hand in improving student performance and connecting students to their learning. When reviewing these studies, take them with a grain of salt; there are strong arguments for both sides, and only you will know which solution is best for your students or school.
Homework improves student achievement.
- Source: The High School Journal, “ When is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating the Association between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math ,” 2012.
- Source: IZA.org, “ Does High School Homework Increase Academic Achievement? ,” 2014. **Note: Study sample comprised only high school boys.
Homework helps reinforce classroom learning.
- Source: “ Debunk This: People Remember 10 Percent of What They Read ,” 2015.
Homework helps students develop good study habits and life skills.
- Sources: The Repository @ St. Cloud State, “ Types of Homework and Their Effect on Student Achievement ,” 2017; Journal of Advanced Academics, “ Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework ,” 2011.
- Source: Journal of Advanced Academics, “ Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework ,” 2011.
Homework allows parents to be involved with their children’s learning.
- Parents can see what their children are learning and working on in school every day.
- Parents can participate in their children’s learning by guiding them through homework assignments and reinforcing positive study and research habits.
- Homework observation and participation can help parents understand their children’s academic strengths and weaknesses, and even identify possible learning difficulties.
- Source: Phys.org, “ Sociologist Upends Notions about Parental Help with Homework ,” 2018.
While some amount of homework may help students connect to their learning and enhance their in-class performance, too much homework can have damaging effects.
Students with too much homework have elevated stress levels.
- Source: USA Today, “ Is It Time to Get Rid of Homework? Mental Health Experts Weigh In ,” 2021.
- Source: Stanford University, “ Stanford Research Shows Pitfalls of Homework ,” 2014.
Students with too much homework may be tempted to cheat.
- Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education, “ High-Tech Cheating Abounds, and Professors Bear Some Blame ,” 2010.
- Source: The American Journal of Family Therapy, “ Homework and Family Stress: With Consideration of Parents’ Self Confidence, Educational Level, and Cultural Background ,” 2015.
Homework highlights digital inequity.
- Sources: NEAToday.org, “ The Homework Gap: The ‘Cruelest Part of the Digital Divide’ ,” 2016; CNET.com, “ The Digital Divide Has Left Millions of School Kids Behind ,” 2021.
- Source: Investopedia, “ Digital Divide ,” 2022; International Journal of Education and Social Science, “ Getting the Homework Done: Social Class and Parents’ Relationship to Homework ,” 2015.
- Source: World Economic Forum, “ COVID-19 exposed the digital divide. Here’s how we can close it ,” 2021.
Homework does not help younger students.
- Source: Review of Educational Research, “ Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Researcher, 1987-2003 ,” 2006.
To help students find the right balance and succeed, teachers and educators must start the homework conversation, both internally at their school and with parents. But in order to successfully advocate on behalf of students, teachers must be well educated on the subject, fully understanding the research and the outcomes that can be achieved by eliminating or reducing the homework burden. There is a plethora of research and writing on the subject for those interested in self-study.
For teachers looking for a more in-depth approach or for educators with a keen interest in educational equity, formal education may be the best route. If this latter option sounds appealing, there are now many reputable schools offering online master of education degree programs to help educators balance the demands of work and family life while furthering their education in the quest to help others.
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Can Homework Lead to Depression?
Homework is an after-school task that nobody bargained or asked for. It is simply that extra work that every student has to put in over a specific period every day after school. Kids in first grade are known to spend at least 10 minutes on their homework every day; those in high school (particularly the seniors) spend at least two hours on their homework every night. This is not conclusive; the amount of time spent could be higher or lesser, depending on the school, teacher, and the students’ abilities.
According to Sierra’s Homework Policy recommendation, students shouldn’t get more than ten minutes of homework every night and a maximum of fifty minutes of homework per term. While this recommendation is not binding or absolute, it mostly serves as a conceptual guide for teachers and tutors alike. Spending this amount of time on homework every night after a hectic day at school is not in any way fun for students, no matter the age or class. No student enjoys doing homework, especially when it has become a daily routine, and now that homework score is calculated as part of their cumulative score for the term. To ease the homework burden, students can ask for help at 123 Homework service and get it at an affordable price.
Whether homework can lead to or cause depression is an age-long question, and this article aims to explain the ‘if’ and ‘how’ too much homework can cause depression.
Studies have shown that the more time spent on homework means that students are not meeting their developmental needs or imbibing other critical life skills. While focusing on their homework, students are likely to forgo other activities such as participating in hobbies, seeing friends and family, and having meaningful and heart-to-heart conversations with people. Homework steals all the attention and spare time. Eventually, it puts students on the path of social reclusiveness, which would sooner or later tell on their mental and emotional balance.
Also, when a group of Harvard Health researchers asked students whether they experience any physical symptoms of stress like exhaustion, sleep deprivation, headache, weight loss, and stomach ache, over two-thirds of the participating students claim that they cope with anxiety thanks to their use of drugs, alcohol, and marijuana.
A Stanford University study showed that homework affects students’ physical and mental health because at least 56% of students attribute homework to be their primary source of stress. According to the study, too much homework is also a leading cause of weight loss, headache, sleep deprivation, and poor eating habits.
As beneficial as homework is to the students’ academic development, the fact remains that an additional two hours spent on homework after spending around 8 hours in school is too much and could lead to a massive mental breakdown.
Even though research has shown that homework can lead to depression, that doesn’t take away the fact that assignment is the only way to ensure and ascertain that students fully understood what they have learned in class; however, the question remains, is two hours on homework every night not too much?
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How Homework Is Destroying Teens’ Health
Jessica Amabile '24 , Staff Writer March 25, 2022
“[Students] average about 3.1 hours of homework each night,” according to an article published by Stanford . Teens across the country come home from school, exhausted from a long day, only to do more schoolwork. They sit at their computers, working on homework assignments for hours on end. To say the relentless amount of work they have to do is overwhelming would be an understatement. The sheer amount of homework given has many negative impacts on teenagers.
Students have had homework for decades, but in more recent years it has become increasingly more demanding. Multiple studies have shown that students average about three hours of homework per night. The Atlantic mentioned that students now have twice as much homework as students did in the 1990s. This is extremely detrimental to teens’ mental health and levels of stress. Students have a lot to do after school, such as spending time with family, extracurricular activities, taking care of siblings or other family members, hanging out with friends, or all of the above. Having to juggle all of this as well as hours on end of homework is unreasonable because teenagers already have enough to think or worry about.
According to a student- run survey conducted in Cherry Hill West, students reported that they received the most homework in math, history, and language arts classes. They receive anywhere from 1 to 4 or more hours of homework every day, but only about 22.7% somewhat or strongly agree that it helps them learn. Of the students who participated, 63.6% think schools should continue to give out homework sometimes, while 27.3% said they should not give out homework at all. In an open-ended response section, students had a lot to say. One student wrote, “I think we should get homework to practice work if we are seen struggling, or didn’t finish work in class. But if we get homework, I think it just shows that the teacher needs more time to teach and instead of speeding up, gives us more work.” Another added, “Homework is important to learn the material. However, too much may lead to the student not learning that much, or it may become stressful to do homework everyday.” Others wrote, “The work I get in chemistry doesn’t help me learn at all if anything it confuses me more,” and “I think math is the only class I could use homework as that helps me learn while world language is supposed to help me learn but feels more like a time waste.” A student admitted, “I think homework is beneficial for students but the amount of homework teachers give us each day is very overwhelming and puts a lot of stress on kids. I always have my work done but all of the homework I have really changes my emotions and it effects me.” Another pointed out, “you are at school for most of your day waking up before the sun and still after all of that they send you home each day with work you need to do before the next day. Does that really make sense[?]”
As an article from Healthline mentioned, “Researchers asked students whether they experienced physical symptoms of stress… More than 80 percent of students reported having at least one stress-related symptom in the past month, and 44 percent said they had experienced three or more symptoms.” If school is causing students physical symptoms of stress, it needs to re-evaluate whether or not homework is beneficial to students, especially teenagers. Students aren’t learning anything if they have hours of “busy work” every night, so much so that it gives them symptoms of stress, such as headaches, weight loss, sleep deprivation, and so on. The continuous hours of work are doing nothing but harming students mentally and physically.
The mental effects of homework can be harmful as well. Mental health issues are often ignored, even when schools can be the root of the problem. An article from USA Today contained a quote from a licensed therapist and social worker named Cynthia Catchings, which reads, “ heavy workloads can also cause serious mental health problems in the long run, like anxiety and depression.” Mental health problems are not beneficial in any way to education. In fact, it makes it more difficult for students to focus and learn.
Some studies have suggested that students should receive less homework. To an extent, homework can help students in certain areas, such as math. However, too much has detrimental impacts on their mental and physical health. Emmy Kang, a mental health counselor, has a suggestion. She mentioned, “I don’t think (we) should scrap homework; I think we should scrap meaningless, purposeless busy work-type homework. That’s something that needs to be scrapped entirely,” she says, encouraging teachers to be thoughtful and consider the amount of time it would take for students to complete assignments,” according to USA Today . Students don’t have much control over the homework they receive, but if enough people could explain to teachers the negative impacts it has on them, they might be convinced. Teachers need to realize that their students have other classes and other assignments to do. While this may not work for everything, it would at least be a start, which would be beneficial to students.
The sole purpose of schools is to educate children and young adults to help them later on in life. However, school curriculums have gone too far if hours of homework for each class are seen as necessary and beneficial to learning. Many studies have shown that homework has harmful effects on students, so how does it make sense to keep assigning it? At this rate, the amount of time spent on homework will increase in years to come, along with the effects of poor mental and physical health. Currently, students do an average of 3 hours of homework, according to the Washington Post, and the estimated amount of teenagers suffering from at least one mental illness is 1 in 5, as Polaris Teen Center stated. This is already bad enough–it’s worrisome to think it could get much worse. Homework is not more important than physical or mental health, by any standards.
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THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER
- Excessive homework negatively impacts mental health, causes unnecessary stress
Opinion Editor Jula Utzschneider writes on the overwhelming chip on every student’s shoulder: homework.
Jula Utzschneider , Opinion Editor November 10, 2021
When the bell rings to end last period every day, I feel a sense of relief. However, this feeling soon wears off as I realize just how much work I have to do after the already-stressful school day ends.
While homework can be beneficial, more often than not, it is assigned excessively and unnecessarily. Teachers give a significant amount of homework, often due the next day. This causes students to spend far too much time doing such assignments and can be detrimental.
A 2013 study conducted at Stanford University found that students in top-performing school districts who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance in their lives and alienation from society. That study, published in The Journal of Experimental Education , suggested that any more than two hours of homework per night is counterproductive. However, students who participated in the study reported doing slightly more than three hours of homework every night.
And, yes, the amount of homework given to students depends on the course level they take. But, with increasingly competitive college acceptance rates (demanding more extracurriculars and college-level classes), many students feel forced to take these more challenging courses. This is a huge problem, especially as teachers give homework only thinking about their own class, not the five or six others students have.
Additionally, when it came to stress, more than 70% of students in the Stanford study said they were “often or always stressed over schoolwork,” with 56% listing homework as a primary stressor. More than 80% of students reported having at least one stress-related symptom (such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, stomach problems and more) in the past month, and 44% said they had experienced three or more symptoms.
Less than 1% of the students said homework was not a stressor, demonstrating that the vast majority feel overwhelmed and pressured by the amount of work they receive.
Not to mention, the time spent on these assignments could easily be spent doing something enjoyable. Many students feel forced or obligated to choose homework over practicing other talents or skills, which should never be the case. Teachers should be encouraging these extracurriculars, rather than making it impossible for students to partake in them.
In terms of what teachers can do, it’s quite simple, really. Homework is intended for students to either practice a subject further or to cover topics teachers couldn’t during the allotted class time. It should not be busywork that just wastes a student’s time.
Teachers should be giving students work that is absolutely necessary (not busy work), and eliminate it altogether where they can. It is extremely important that students not only get through high school but thrive and enjoy it too.
How much time do you spend doing homework on an average school night?
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Opinion | Social-Emotional Learning
If we’re serious about student well-being, we must change the systems students learn in, here are five steps high schools can take to support students' mental health., by tim klein and belle liang oct 14, 2022.
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Educators and parents started this school year with bated breath. Last year’s stress led to record levels of teacher burnout and mental health challenges for students.
Even before the pandemic, a mental health crisis among high schoolers loomed. According to a survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2019, 37 percent of high school students said they experienced persistent sadness or hopelessness and 19 percent reported suicidality. In response, more than half of all U.S. states mandated that schools have a mental health curriculum or include mental health in their standards .
As mental health professionals and co-authors of a book about the pressure and stress facing high school students, we’ve spent our entire careers supporting students’ mental health. Traditionally, mental health interventions are individualized and they focus on helping students manage and change their behaviors to cope with challenges they’re facing. But while working with schools and colleges across the globe as we conducted research for our book , we realized that most interventions don’t address systemic issues causing mental health problems in the first place.
It’s time we acknowledge that our education systems are directly contributing to the youth mental health crisis. And if we are serious about student well-being, we must change the systems they learn in.
Here are five bold steps that high schools can take to boost mental health.
Limit Homework or Make it Optional
Imagine applying for a job, and the hiring manager informs you that in addition to a full workday in the office, you’ll be assigned three more hours of work every night. Does this sound like a healthy work-life balance? Most adults would consider this expectation ridiculous and unsustainable. Yet, this is the workload most schools place on high school students.
Research shows that excessive homework leads to increased stress, physical health problems and a lack of balance in students' lives. And studies have shown that more than two hours of daily homework can be counterproductive , yet many teachers assign more.
Homework proponents argue that homework improves academic performance. Indeed, a meta-analysis of research on this issue found a correlation between homework and achievement. But correlation isn’t causation. Does homework cause achievement or do high achievers do more homework? While it’s likely that homework completion signals student engagement, which in turn leads to academic achievement, there’s little evidence to suggest that homework itself improves engagement in learning.
Another common argument is that homework helps students develop skills related to problem-solving, time-management and self-direction. But these skills can be explicitly taught during the school day rather than after school.
Limiting homework or moving to an optional homework policy not only supports student well-being, but it can also create a more equitable learning environment. According to the American Psychological Association, students from more affluent families are more likely to have access to resources such as devices, internet, dedicated work space and the support necessary to complete their work successfully—and homework can highlight those inequities .
Whether a school limits homework or makes it optional, it’s critical to remember that more important than the amount of homework assigned, is designing the type of activities that engage students in learning. When students are intrinsically motivated to do their homework, they are more engaged in the work, which in turn is associated with academic achievement.
Cap the Number of APs Students Can Take
Advanced Placement courses give students a taste of college-level work and, in theory, allow them to earn college credits early. Getting good grades on AP exams is associated with higher GPAs in high school and success in college, but the research tends to be correlational rather than causational.
In 2008, a little over 180,000 students took three or more AP exams. By 2018, that number had ballooned to almost 350,000 students .
However, this expansion has come at the expense of student well-being.
Over the years, we’ve heard many students express that they feel pressure to take as many AP classes as possible, which overloads them with work. That’s troubling because studies show that students who take AP classes and exams are twice as likely to report adverse physical and emotional health .
AP courses and exams also raise complex issues of equity. In 2019, two out of three Harvard freshmen reported taking AP Calculus in high school, according to Jeff Selingo, author of “ Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions ,” yet only half of all high schools in the country offer the course. And opportunity gaps exist for advanced coursework such as AP courses and dual enrollment, with inequitable distribution of funding and support impacting which students are enrolling and experiencing success. According to the Center for American Progress, “National data from the Civil Rights Data Collection show that students who are Black, Indigenous, and other non-Black people of color (BIPOC) are not enrolled in AP courses at rates comparable to their white and Asian peers and experience less success when they are—and the analysis for this report finds this to be true even when they attend schools with similar levels of AP course availability.”
Limiting the number of AP courses students take can protect mental health and create a more equitable experience for students.
Eliminate Class Rankings
In a study we conducted about mental health problems among high school girls, we found that a primary driver of stress was their perception of school as a hypercompetitive, zero-sum game where pervasive peer pressure to perform reigns supreme.
Class rankings fuel these cutthroat environments. They send a toxic message to young people: success requires doing better than your peers.
Ranking systems help highly selective colleges decide which students to admit or reject for admission. The purpose of high school is to develop students to their own full potential, rather than causing them to fixate on measuring up to others. Research shows that ranking systems undercut students’ learning and damage social relationships by turning peers into opponents.
Eliminating class rankings sends a powerful message to students that they are more than a number.
Become an Admission Test Objector
COVID-19 ushered in the era of test-optional admissions. De-centering standardized tests in the college application process is unequivocally a good thing. Standardized tests don’t predict student success in college , they only widen the achievement gap between privileged and underprivileged students and damage students' mental health .
Going “test optional” is an excellent first step, but it's not enough.
Even as more colleges have made tests optional, affluent students submit test scores at a higher rate than their lower-income peers and are admitted at higher rates , suggesting that testing still gives them an edge.
High schools must adhere to standardized test mandates, but they don’t have to endorse them. They can become test objectors by publicly proclaiming that these tests hold no inherent value. They can stop teaching to the test and educate parents on why they are doing so. Counseling departments can inform colleges that their school is a test objector so admission teams won’t penalize students.
Of course, students and families will still find ways to wield these tests as a competitive advantage. Over time, the more schools and educators unite to denounce these tests, the less power they will hold over students and families.
Big change starts with small steps.
Stand For What You Value
Critics may argue that such policies might hurt student outcomes. How will colleges evaluate school rigor if we limit AP courses and homework? How will students demonstrate their merits without class rankings and standardized test scores?
The truth is, the best school systems in the world succeed without homework, standardized test scores or an obsession with rigorous courses. And many U.S. schools have found creative and empowering ways to showcase student merit beyond rankings and test scores.
If we aren’t willing to change policies and practices that have been shown to harm students’ well-being, we have to ask ourselves: Do we really value mental health?
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario: We can design school systems that help students thrive academically and psychologically.
Belle Liang and Tim Klein are mental health professionals and co-authors of “How To Navigate Life: The New Science of Finding Your Way in School, Career and Life.”
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Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in.
It's no secret that kids hate homework. And as students grapple with an ongoing pandemic that has had a wide range of mental health impacts, is it time schools start listening to their pleas about workloads?
Some teachers are turning to social media to take a stand against homework.
Tiktok user @misguided.teacher says he doesn't assign it because the "whole premise of homework is flawed."
For starters, he says, he can't grade work on "even playing fields" when students' home environments can be vastly different.
"Even students who go home to a peaceful house, do they really want to spend their time on busy work? Because typically that's what a lot of homework is, it's busy work," he says in the video that has garnered 1.6 million likes. "You only get one year to be 7, you only got one year to be 10, you only get one year to be 16, 18."
Mental health experts agree heavy workloads have the potential do more harm than good for students, especially when taking into account the impacts of the pandemic. But they also say the answer may not be to eliminate homework altogether.
Emmy Kang, mental health counselor at Humantold , says studies have shown heavy workloads can be "detrimental" for students and cause a "big impact on their mental, physical and emotional health."
"More than half of students say that homework is their primary source of stress, and we know what stress can do on our bodies," she says, adding that staying up late to finish assignments also leads to disrupted sleep and exhaustion.
Cynthia Catchings, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Talkspace , says heavy workloads can also cause serious mental health problems in the long run, like anxiety and depression.
And for all the distress homework can cause, it's not as useful as many may think, says Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, a psychologist and CEO of Omega Recovery treatment center.
"The research shows that there's really limited benefit of homework for elementary age students, that really the school work should be contained in the classroom," he says.
For older students, Kang says, homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night.
"Most students, especially at these high achieving schools, they're doing a minimum of three hours, and it's taking away time from their friends, from their families, their extracurricular activities. And these are all very important things for a person's mental and emotional health."
Catchings, who also taught third to 12th graders for 12 years, says she's seen the positive effects of a no-homework policy while working with students abroad.
"Not having homework was something that I always admired from the French students (and) the French schools, because that was helping the students to really have the time off and really disconnect from school," she says.
The answer may not be to eliminate homework completely but to be more mindful of the type of work students take home, suggests Kang, who was a high school teacher for 10 years.
"I don't think (we) should scrap homework; I think we should scrap meaningless, purposeless busy work-type homework. That's something that needs to be scrapped entirely," she says, encouraging teachers to be thoughtful and consider the amount of time it would take for students to complete assignments.
The pandemic made the conversation around homework more crucial
Mindfulness surrounding homework is especially important in the context of the past two years. Many students will be struggling with mental health issues that were brought on or worsened by the pandemic , making heavy workloads even harder to balance.
"COVID was just a disaster in terms of the lack of structure. Everything just deteriorated," Kardaras says, pointing to an increase in cognitive issues and decrease in attention spans among students. "School acts as an anchor for a lot of children, as a stabilizing force, and that disappeared."
But even if students transition back to the structure of in-person classes, Kardaras suspects students may still struggle after two school years of shifted schedules and disrupted sleeping habits.
"We've seen adults struggling to go back to in-person work environments from remote work environments. That effect is amplified with children because children have less resources to be able to cope with those transitions than adults do," he explains.
'Get organized' ahead of back-to-school
In order to make the transition back to in-person school easier, Kang encourages students to "get good sleep, exercise regularly (and) eat a healthy diet."
To help manage workloads, she suggests students "get organized."
"There's so much mental clutter up there when you're disorganized. ... Sitting down and planning out their study schedules can really help manage their time," she says.
Breaking up assignments can also make things easier to tackle.
"I know that heavy workloads can be stressful, but if you sit down and you break down that studying into smaller chunks, they're much more manageable."
If workloads are still too much, Kang encourages students to advocate for themselves.
"They should tell their teachers when a homework assignment just took too much time or if it was too difficult for them to do on their own," she says. "It's good to speak up and ask those questions. Respectfully, of course, because these are your teachers. But still, I think sometimes teachers themselves need this feedback from their students."
More: Some teachers let their students sleep in class. Here's what mental health experts say.
More: Some parents are slipping young kids in for the COVID-19 vaccine, but doctors discourage the move as 'risky'
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Health Hazards of Homework
March 18, 2014 | Julie Greicius Pediatrics .
A new study by the Stanford Graduate School of Education and colleagues found that students in high-performing schools who did excessive hours of homework “experienced greater behavioral engagement in school but also more academic stress, physical health problems, and lack of balance in their lives.”
Those health problems ranged from stress, headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems, to psycho-social effects like dropping activities, not seeing friends or family, and not pursuing hobbies they enjoy.
In the Stanford Report story about the research, Denise Pope , a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a co-author of the study published in the Journal of Experimental Education , says, “Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good.”
The study was based on survey data from a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in California communities in which median household income exceeded $90,000. Of the students surveyed, homework volume averaged about 3.1 hours each night.
“It is time to re-evaluate how the school environment is preparing our high school student for today’s workplace,” says Neville Golden, MD , chief of adolescent medicine at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health and a professor at the School of Medicine. “This landmark study shows that excessive homework is counterproductive, leading to sleep deprivation, school stress and other health problems. Parents can best support their children in these demanding academic environments by advocating for them through direct communication with teachers and school administrators about homework load.”
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One of the worst manifestations of too many homework assignments is triggering various mental ailments and deviations. Some of them are very dangerous and may remain for long, if not for the entire life! Youngsters may take their academic liabilities too close to the heart. As they are worried about their results, it leads to various mental ailments and deviations.
Too many tasks and great mental pressure make students “burn out”. Children and young adults cannot withstand the constant flow of academic tasks and duties. They get exhausted as they are stressed and deprived of sleep. All they do is think about their learning. It leads to burnout.
Unfortunately, buying is pretty common for all schools, colleges, and universities in the USA. Other students crack jokes about the so-called nerds. It is an ugly behavior and when children grow up, they understand that and become ashamed. Nonetheless, the damage will be already done. Clever and diligent |nerds” will suffer from it, and the negative consequences may remain with them until the last day of their lives.
Some of them will surely want to become “normal” and so may stop doing their homework. They will not be that diligent to try not to stand out of the crowd. It is also a huge mistake, but due to their inexperience, they don’t realize it.
No Time for Private Affairs
Too many homework tasks deprive students of time for themselves. They cannot have enough fun. There is little time for personal relationships, communication with their peers, having hobbies, and so on. This shortage of time makes many students oppose their homework duties. They start to hate it, and so may top learning. At any rate, it is a serious drawback for their mental health.
Tips to Getting Rid of Homework Stress
We want to help all students. We have gathered several great tips and tricks that may help to handle your homework tasks faster and easier. Make allowance for the next points:
- Plan your time reasonably;
- Set realistic deadlines and goals;
- Prioritize your goal;
- Always have time to rest;
- Sleep enough;
- Understand when help is required .
Follow these tips and your academic life will become much easier!
Consider Using a Custom Writing Service
One of the most effective ways to put off your academic load is to use the help of a good custom writing platform. If you find a trustworthy writing service, you may solve almost any learning issue. It hires only certified and skilled experts who specialize in various disciplines and assignment types.
Such services have hundreds of educated writers who can easily handle any assignment in programming, java, management, statistics, accounting, law, Matlab, history, etc. You may freely count on help with your:
- Term paper;
- Lab report;
- Book review;
- PowerPoint presentation;
- Dissertation and so on.
As every order is 100% customizable, you may get any kind of academic help. Discuss all the terms with your solver and tell how your paper must be tackled. You may request:
- Writing and rewriting;
- Editing and proofreading;
- Researching and analyzing;
- Citing and referencing;
- Generating topics;
- Calculating, etc.
You may not worry about the price you will surely have to pay. If you find a highly reputed platform, it will not charge a lot. Such services set pretty cheap prices to make affordable their help. Every ordinary student will be able to buy the required type of help. Just set the demands and regulate the total cost until it suits your financial possibilities. Moreover, these services offer great discounts for students to save up more of their money.
The help is very fast. Everything depends on the demands you set. Make sure they are realistic. For example, a simple essay can be completed in 2-4 hours. A case study or coursework will take much more time. Place a complicated assignment beforehand and your helper will surely accomplish it on time. You are expected to provide the next details:
- Type of skills;
- Type of the paper.
The price of pro help isn’t that high if you choose a highly reputed platform. It also depends on the demands you set. Change the value of quality, length, or urgency to make the price cheaper. Most assignment types have the same cost. However, such a complex paper as a dissertation will surely cost more. Nonetheless, the prices are pretty affordable and fair.
Among other dividends you will enjoy are:
- Authentic papers;
- Inserting citations and bibliography of all formats;
- Protection of your private data;
- Availability and support 24 hours round the clock.
As you can see, doing homework may be harmful to youngsters. Educators should finally realize that they assign too many tasks. Youngsters need more time for themselves to escape mental complications. Follow our useful tips and tricks to get rid of at least some part of your academic load.
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