It is a melancholy object to wander the halls of BB&N and see students half asleep, trying to avoid other shuffling somnambulists. Or to see them scribbling through sheets of graph paper, finishing homework due in 10 minutes. I hear stories of juniors staying up until 3 a.m. to study for multiple tests and finish other homework. One classmate, who takes an honors class and two AP classes, passed out at her computer at 2:30 a.m., only to wake up at 5 a.m. and find she hadn’t even gotten through the English reading. How can any of us focus in school the next day if we regularly stay up past midnight to finish our homework?
The root cause of this problem is the teachers themselves. They regularly assign an hour’s worth of homework every night, which doesn’t seem harmful at first, but then factor in five classes: that’s five hours of math problems, dense history readings, and lab questions that only students who look up the answers can finish. Teachers forget that students have other classes; they believe their subject is most important and takes priority over everything else. They even disregard the test schedule so that students end up having multiple major assessments on the same day.
To solve this issue, I propose weekly fights between the teachers, a mix between boxing matches and the Hunger Games. The winner of each fight would hold the power to decide how much homework the other teachers could give out during the upcoming week—no more than three hours for their own subject and at least 10 minutes each for the others.
On Sunday night, teachers from each of the five academic subjects—math, science, English, history, and language—would email Mr. Theobald their vote for one representative to fight. Science teachers could vote for a physics teacher, a chemistry teacher, etc.; math teachers could vote for a geometry teacher or a calculus teacher; the list continues in the same fashion for the other subjects. The next morning, teachers and students would gather in the gym to watch the fight. Fights would replace Monday morning assemblies, whose important content could easily be relayed in What’s Happening emails.
The bleachers would be set in a semi-circle around the fight, akin to the setup during Community Building Assemblies, to prevent any fighters from attempting to escape their fate. Teachers not fighting would fill in open spaces and catch any would-be runaways. To win the fight, a teacher would need to knock out the other four teachers. Mr. Theobald would referee the fights, making sure the teachers use only their bodies—no weapons allowed—and Nurse Pekkala would attend to ensure the fighters receive adequate treatment. (BB&N is luckily across the street from Mount Auburn Hospital in case of more severe injuries.)
The advantages to this plan are numerous. Community building would prosper, as students would be able to watch fights from the bleachers and cheer on their favorite teachers. The fights would also provide high-quality entertainment, which, in such a rigorous and demanding school, can be difficult to find. Students could even set up betting pools. Lest anyone fear that teachers would repeatedly injure themselves or that the more brawny teachers, such as Mr. Willey, Mr. Nagy, and Mr. Rollinson, would win the fight for math and science every Monday, teachers would only be eligible to fight once a trimester, thereby reducing the risk of too-frequent injury.
With the decrease in homework in four out of the five academic subjects, students would gain a deeper understanding of the material in one subject. No longer would they have to spread themselves thin, only memorizing half the U.S. presidents because they also had to write about a theme in The Great Gatsby and learn how to inscribe a circle within a triangle—information most students won’t use when they leave BB&N anyway.
These fights would be beneficial for teachers as well. A decrease in homework would mean less time having to write tests and grade essays, which, as most students know from the teachers themselves, is an incredible hardship compared to their own multiple hours of studying. Teachers would be able to focus on their families, spending more time with their children and spouses. Teachers within each subject would also grow closer as they throw their support behind their representative.
The main advantage, of course, would be students getting a sufficient amount of sleep. Low sleep means slower reaction times, loss of concentration, and poor information retention. With only one subject to focus on each night, students would be able to get up to three more hours of sleep, resulting in 15 more hours throughout the week. On the weekends, students would be able to relax, see their friends, and still get all their homework done. They would be happier, healthier, and able to concentrate fully on their work.
Don’t talk to me about tired and ineffective solutions to fix the homework overload, such as teachers lessening the amount they assign for each class, using class time more effectively, conferring with each other to distribute assessments better throughout the week, or simply sticking to the test schedule. And the idea of creating more free time throughout the day to complete homework or decreasing mandatory sports practice time is equally outrageous. The two-hour-long practices are simply crucial to our education, even more so for the JV athletes. Unless a better solution knocks mine out of the running, I’ll see you next year in the ring.