By Raphaël Marciano (2EA)
Over the last few years, a lot of criticism has been addressed towards the school system. Whether it is about student clothing or the time they should arrive at school, everyone has an opinion. The most interesting topic of debtate, however, seems to be the amount of homework given to students over the course of a week. It varies, of course, depending on the student’s country, but after a close look and interview with several students across the globe, there are a few similarities.
“I’d say I work around 45 hours a week”, says Edward Croisdale-Appleby, who attends an American international school in Brussels, Belgium. “Six hours a day working at school, excluding the breaks, two hours of homework, five days a week and five hours of homework over the weekend.” Here, the amount of work varies depending on the day, with there being more homework given for the weekend than during weekdays. This means that he has 15 hours of homework per week.
While the amount may seem like a staggering amount, it is quite common, as the average of homework in France is 10 to 15 hours per week. “I go to school for a full day on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and half the day on Wednesday and Saturday,” says Madeleine Chagnaud from Marseille, France. “It helps to have a break in the middle and just say to myself: okay, this is what I’ve done, now this is what I’ll do. Moreover, it also means most of the time, I just do my homework on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, which gives me free time on schoolday evenings.” While the organisation of time may be distributed differently, most students agree that they have more homework during the weekend.
Edward also says, however, that this amount of work can be overwhelming: “It can sometimes overwhelm me, particularly when I have very long work that counts towards a grade it can completely take over my day.” The amount of homework can sometimes prevent him for doing the things he wishes he were able to do: “It limits the possibility of having windows of time to do other things.”
Tiago Martins, another student who lives in Doha, Qatar, also has similar things to say: “Often I don’t meet up with friends because I don’t feel like I even can. I work eight hours the weekend, and it’s just too much.”
The amount of work given to students also seems to have a psychological and physical impact on them. “Sometimes, it seems like the pile of work is too big for me to start right now, so I just do it overnight where I have the time,” says Lorenzo Gomes Gimenes, who is a student in Shanghai, China. “I sleep between four and seven hours a night, depending on my homework.”
For comparison, the recommended amount of sleep a teenager should get is eight-nine hours a night. He is not the only one to do this, though: “Sometimes I feel like the amount of work prevents me from sleeping more,” says Vincent de Sangues, who currently lives in Annecy, France.”I sleep six hours. It’s partly the school’s fault and my fault, I admit it,” he confesses. “But children should not be working this much.” While it is an interesting opinion, not one that everyone shares it.
“No, it’s normal for us to work like that,” replies Andrea Zimbaldi, a student from Paris, France. “If we want to integrate the hard world of work, we have to start working now. We can’t afford to have no experience of work, we have no time for that. If we’re learning now I believe that it’s for a purpose, and we should take advantage of that.” Interestingly, Andrea doesn’t seem to share the other people’s opinion. “Look at the Chinese students. Look at the Indian students. They work even harder and would kill for our opportunities. We have to be thankful of our luck to have these opportunities and go on.”
Besides students’ differing opinions, teachers also seem to disagree. “Teachers work more than before,” says Catherine Faner, teacher in Marseille, France. “It’s the reverse for the students though! Even in Terminale the work is below expectations. There are too many school hours and not enough homework effort by the tired students,” she states. “It’s not a system problem, the issue is with parents letting their children miss school more and more, it influences the children’s mentality.”
The students interviewed here all seem to agree that they work between 40 to 60 hours during the week, counting school hours and homework hours. Many think it is too much and that children should not be allowed to work so much, as they should instead enjoy their childhoods while they can. It prevents them from sleeping, with some admitting that this might also be due because of how they organise their time.
It does not seem to shock everyone, however, that they are working this much. As seen with Andrea from Paris, some think that they should just be happy with their amount of work considering what students in other countries get. They should also enjoy the fact they are lucky enough to live in a developed country and study in a good school, and that although they work a lot, it is for the best, as they will have better opportunities in the future. Teachers, however, seem to think that while the school hours are indeed long, the homework effort is below their expectations.