Students should get less busywork


Pravar Mukkala

Busywork does not help students, since it repeats what they’ve already learned.

Pravar Mukkala, Opinions Editor

I come home with a loaded backpack with five binders, one for each class, my Chromebook, and papers from every class. I estimate that my homework will take up all of the time I have until dinner. With a heavy sigh, I set my bag down on the ground and think, is this really what school should be like?

The answer is no. Students should not be coming home with busywork from all of their classes, especially after more than a year of partially remote learning.

Busywork is any work that is assigned just to pass time. It doesn’t have any real value, and it is something many of my teachers from elementary school to high school have assigned regularly. Teachers may assign busywork just to make it seem like they’re assigning homework. However, this busywork very seldom helps. While it strengthens mastery of content, once it’s repeated, it loses its worth.

When busywork is assigned, it’s usually due the next day. And on that day, there would be a new assignment due next class. Doing so many little, meaningless assignments makes me feel like I have to do the work just to do it. I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing; the only thing I want to do is finish it.

This “I’m-doing-it-because-I-want-to-finish-it” mindset is very dangerous. After a pandemic year, with sections of the syllabus being cut because of time constraints, repetitive and unhelpful work will not help students. We should be learning all that we can to make up everything we missed last year.

Furthermore, busywork does not work with everyone’s learning style. Worksheets, educational videos, and paper flashcards, all of which are things I’d count as busywork for myself, do not help me learn content.

Busywork can even be detrimental to student learning. After doing the same exact assignment cloaked in three different ways, I’d become even more confused than I was before because I’d get bored and make mistakes.

In subjects such as English and history, writing, reading, and analyses are all types of assignments that help student comprehension. None of these are busywork, since they help students understand content.

For me, math is the only subject where assigning repetitive work, such as practice sheets, helps. However, even too many worksheets become tedious, and the amount a student will learn while completing three worksheets would decrease. This much unhelpful work ends up becoming a waste of time, especially when many students have extracurriculars, sports, and jobs.

I’m not saying all of the work I’m assigned is busywork. Many worksheets and reading assignments help me understand what I’m supposed to learn. I actually enjoy writing analyses and taking notes. However, when the amount of small, empty assignments begins to grow, I get irritated.

Overall, I think that busywork is a key reason why students are uninterested and unmotivated to go to school. Even just a few boring, time-wasting assignments would annoy anyone. Large numbers of small assignments may even cause stress.

Instead of busywork, I think that a mix between small projects and a smaller number of large assignments would help. Additionally, what kind of product students do for the assignment should be flexible so that students can learn effectively using their learning style.

With less busywork, students will finally be able to relax while still learning and doing productive work for school.