You Should Be Doing Homework

Sorry, but homework really does matter.

Annoying, yes. Boring, usually. Important for your academic success? Very much so.

See below for some important reasons why you probably should be doing your homework.

1. Grades

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  • There is no single other larger measurement of your high school experience than your GPA. It opens or closes doors and will never change once you have graduated (or not).
  • There are many more important things in high school than grades, but, in general, nothing has as much impact upon your future.
  • Doing homework on time leads to better grades.

2. Having done your homework makes the next class time more meaningful, more understandable and less boring

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  • If you don’t do your homework, you will most often not know what the teacher is doing in class the next day.
    • Teachers teach to the students who do their homework.
    • The rest of the students get left behind and lost.
  • When your teacher assigns homework it is for two purposes:
    1. To reinforce something taught in class through “independent practice” by the students
    2. To expose students to something that will be discussed and reinforced in class.
  • Doing your homework helps you to identify what you do and do not know.
    • Doing your homework helps you to identify your needs.
    • Always ask questions about the homework in class. This serves two important purposes:
      1. It shows your teacher you did your work (grades up).
      2. It helps you to clarify your understanding and ability to do the work you need for a high grade.
  • If you do your homework late or at the end of the quarter, you won’t be learning, you won’t much improve your test grades, and you will have missed the feedback-cycle of:

Classroom learning reinforced by independent practice (homework) = learning = better grades

3. Doing homework leads to more overall learning

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  • Homework is practice. You don’t get good at something without practice.
    • Even if it seems easy and irrelevant, it is still practice and practice has enormous benefits:
      1. It creates a habit of just doing your work and helps to break procrastination cycles
      2. It can only help you, just like how one more time in sports increases performance, your brain, memory, and willpower benefit from repetition.
  • Doing homework (on time) leads to more learning which leads to better grades.
  • In general, learning is probably one of the least impactful pieces of the high school experience on your life. I can’t remember much of anything that I learned in high school.
  • However, you will learn a few things in high school that will have a huge impact on your life, that are life-changing.
  • Doing your homework gives you exposure to learning and enables you to have success in a subject that you may not have known at age 15 was important to you at age 25.

4. Homework tells you what your teacher wants you to learn and / or do, especially on tests

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  • Teachers give homework for some good and some bad reasons. Too bad you’re not the teacher, so you can’t decide.
  • So, instead of judging your homework, listen to your teacher through the homework and the expectations it sets from your teacher.
  • Teachers use test questions for homework and homework for test questions. They do it because 1) it’s fair to students, allowing them to practice what will be on the test; and 2) teachers are lazy.

5. Doing your homework helps you getting through bad classes and teachers

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  • Many students blame teachers for their grades. Let’s agree that there are bad teachers and boring, worthless classes and homework. A couple things:
    1. You don’t pay your teacher’s salary. Your teacher gets paid whether you do your homework or not.
    2. Doing your homework punishes your teacher, because the easiest thing to grade for a teacher is nothing. Get revenge on your teacher and do your homework
  • The less you do your homework, the worse the class will become. And your grades.
  • Homework helps make class more meaningful, and thus more relevance.
  • Homework is part of a circular process of classroom success. If you break that cycle by not doing your homework, you lose, because you get a bad grade.
  • Say this five times really fast:
    • “The more work I do the more I learn, the more I learn the more work I can do and I get better grades.”

 

Overall,

  • Doing your homework = better grades
  • Doing your homework = class is more relevant
  • Doing your homework = you learn
  • Doing your homework = breaking procrastination cycles

If you want to improve your grades, try on some homework! Just get started and it won’t be so bad.

Look, I know it sucks to have to do stupid things you don’t want to do. I get it. But look at your grades. If they’re not where they could be, then let’s talk about doing some more homework.

Let me know if I can help.

– Michael

gradeshigh schoolhomeworkprocrastinationstudent success podcasttesting

Today’s guest post on homework is from Robbie Fluegge, a Harvard University sophomore.


We’ve all been there. It’s already late at night and you haven’t started your homework assignment that’s due tomorrow. Your friend said it took them a couple hours, but you’re not worried. You know that you can get it done. All that matters is that you finish it, right?

Wrong.

This is a mindset all too common among us students: thinking that the goal of homework is to just get it done as quickly as possible so that we can turn it in and get the points. But let’s take a step back for a second and try to think about why we’re actually doing homework in the first place. Is it supposed to be a mindless repetition of problems with no purpose other than to make your life miserable?

I think we can all agree that’s not the case. Homework is a learning device, just like lectures or office hours. It’s been given in order to help us better understand and apply the material we’ve been learning in class. I can guarantee that it was assigned because your professor actually thought it was important that you learn how to do these problems (remember, more homework assigned means more work for the teaching staff to grade it too). And trust me, you might be able to get through the year putting a minimal amount of effort into homework, but once that final comes around you better be ready to study until your brain falls out because you didn’t learn the material during the year.

“Sure,” you might say, “but homework is homework. How can I do it differently than I’m already doing it?” So here’s a couple of tips that I’ve learned for doing your homework the right way. And the beautiful thing is that if you really commit to it, it won’t take that much more time than you’re spending right now.

1. Start Early

Nobody learns very well when they’re exhausted. Try to at least start your homework before it gets dark. In fact, if you make a conscious effort to do this you’ll probably be more awake and more productive, so you may actually be able to cut down on the total number of hours you spend working.

2. Get rid of distractions

Silence your cell phone, close your Facebook tab, and go somewhere quiet. The more distractions there are, the less effectively you’re going to internalize whatever you’re trying to learn. Same as before, this can make homework take way less time!

3. Work it out

For math or science, don’t go straight to example problems or similar exercises on the internet. Copying and plugging in new numbers is NOT the same thing as doing it yourself. If you never practice figuring out a problem on your own, how can you expect to be able to do it on an exam? I can’t stress this enough. If you are really stuck, try to look up the concepts instead of problems.

4. Find the right study group…or not at all

Study groups are great. They let everybody learn from each other and tease out confusing concepts together. But if your study group is also your social hour, find another place to do homework. Friends can be the worst causes of procrastination, so realize when your group is not being productive and either steer it back on course or get out of there.

5. Take breaks

Not even the best students can focus for hours on end without breaking concentration. If your assignment is taking longer than an hour or so, give your brain a little 5 minute break every half hour to keep you sharp.

6. Review and reflect

Most importantly, you should spend a little bit of time reviewing what you did and reflecting on what you learned. If you did a lot of reading, try to summarize the main points in your head. If it was a problem set, think about what kinds of problems you learned how to do and how they relate to your current topic. Reflecting helps our brains process information and store it in long term memory. If you look back at your homework and realize that you couldn’t do it again without help, you did something wrong!

These tips don’t add a lot of time to your homework routine, but if you make them a habit you will see huge improvements in your grades and huge decreases in stress. Put in the work during homework, and when that final comes around you have nothing to worry about!



Robbie Fluegge is currently a sophomore studying Applied Mathematics at Harvard University, and has worked as a tutor and cancer lab assistant for several years. He also works as a management consultant for Argopoint LLC, a consulting firm based in Boston. He hopes that he can help his fellow students excel in their classes!

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