Busywork: Beneficial, or Burdensome?


s. thompson

Sophomore Caeden Bishop studies the literature book

Rae Smith, Staff Writer

It’s a punch in the gut, a kick in the teeth, a headache-inducing inconvenience known to all and loved by none: busywork.

Though there are merits to it at certain times, more often than not it takes up valuable instruction time and prevents kids from actually enjoying educational content, turning even the most interesting subjects into a blur of repetitive assignments. This busywork is usually shoved towards the end of class to make room for actual instruction. Time, inevitably, runs short, and thus, we have homework.

The average homework assignment takes about 30 minutes to complete… and there are nine classes in total. Well, according to my Pre-Cal homework, 30 x 9 = 270min, just over four hours worth. Multiply that by 2.5 (the full schedule cycle per week), and you get 675 minutes, or 11 hours and fifteen minutes, of semi-useless assignments.

For comparison, school itself is just under eight hours per day, and 40 hours per week: the exact number of hours in the average American work week. Then we add the 11 hours of homework to get 51 weekly hours…It adds up like a sheet of extra math problems. That number doesn’t include any additional extra-curricular activities or jobs that students may have in addition to high school. And people wonder why teenagers are moody.

The worst part is, 90% of this homework is unnecessary for learning. It’s just menial, time-consuming busywork to boost (or cripple) your grade. And everyone knows it.

I’m not saying all busywork is bogus… but most busywork is bogus. And it needs to stop.

If the sheer amount of time wasted isn’t enough proof, then consider this: while GPA has been steadily increasing over the years, SAT scores have declined. That means that either the SAT is getting harder (which it’s not, because it’s intensely regulated by the College Board), or schoolwork is getting watered down.

I wouldn’t be upset if this ridiculous amount of work actually got me something other than a free 100 on my report card. But it doesn’t. If I’m being honest here, I’ve learned so much more piddling around on YouTube than I have by actually doing any extraneous, unnecessary worksheet.

I would be so much more productive and more willing to work if I actually got something beneficial out of all this busywork. But I don’t. No one does.

And no one ever will.