by Parisa Sadeghi (’12)
There is no doubt that the homework policy at NCS has had considerable positive effects on students. The relatively new, student government-proposed policy allows each 9th and 10th grade teacher to assign 25 minutes of homework per night, 11th and 12th grade teachers 35 minutes, and 45 minutes a night for AP courses.
Despite the appeal of less homework, however, some underclassmen question whether the strict limit on assignments is necessary. In fact, a poll of 9th and 10th graders showed that over 20% of the students think that the homework policy is unnecessary.
The truth is the guidelines have a variety of advantages. For one, they facilitate the transition into high school, alleviating much of the anxiety and difficulties that most NCS girls face during the jump from 8th to 9th grade. One of the most daunting aspects of becoming a part of the Upper School is the anticipated homework load. Students hear haunting tales of pulling “all-nighters”, getting “no sleep”, and having “tons of homework”. The policy helps to eliminate these fears.
Knowing that teachers will make an effort to keep the time spent on homework within the two-hour-total framework is comforting, to say the least. More importantly, the workload itself does not seem too drastically different from that of the middle school, building a stronger bridge across the gap between middle school and high school.
Adrienne Larson (‘11) added, “I think homework guidelines are necessary for underclassmen because more often than not the workload in the Upper School is significantly more demanding that that of most middle schools. Ideally, underclassmen should have a workload that helps them transition from the lighter load of middle school to the more stressful demands of 9th and 10th grade.”
The policy also indirectly teaches students to manage their time, preparing them for their junior and senior years. The knowledge that homework should take an average of 25 minutes per subject a night, creates a standard that students can very easily follow. Freshmen and sophomores learn to identify their own weaknesses and strengths judging by how closely they follow the time constraints suggested by the policies. In doing so, they learn to effectively allocate their time simply by examining where they tend to have trouble. This creates a fantastic foundation for the higher grades where time management is key, as is understanding where one needs to spend more or less time.
The first two years of high school should also be times for experimentation and opening new doors. When there are no strict guidelines on homework and assignments, participating in a musical, doing chorale, and being on the crew team simultaneously is impossible. The new policy provides younger students with the flexibility to try the diverse extracurricular activities offered by high school.
When thinking about whether underclassmen really need the guidelines, one would probably ask why not? It eases the transition from middle and upper school, helps build great skills for upperclassman years, and creates time to step outside of the academic box. In short, the homework policy is a necessary step in creating an optimal experience for students throughout their years in high school.