No Homework Days


Madeline Cohen No homework. No papers. No tests or quizzes or projects. This is what we can hopefully expect from the four homework-free days that are scheduled to take place over the course of the remaining months of school. The idea is exactly as its name suggests. On four designated days, teachers have been asked not to have any assignments due and not to have any assessments planned. In reality, being that all of these days fall on the day we return from breaks or weekends, the hope is to actually have over 20 days without any schoolwork for students or teachers to worry about. The first of these days will happen this Tuesday the 20th coming out of the upcoming three day MLK weekend. Similarly, the second falls on the Tuesday after President’s weekend, February 17th. The Monday we return from Spring break strictly enforces this policy as well, only AP classes allowed to have work if absolutely necessary. The last is planned strategically for Monday April 20th following a weekend during which many students will take the ACT. The decision to have these days was made after studying Upper School students’ behavioral and health trends, and to quote an email sent out to the staff, is “an effort to more fully realize the health and wellness goals of the strategic plan.” Lately, between the Wellness Committee and teacher-student shadow days, there’s been an emphasis on making our lives less stressful, and these work-free days were created with the same intention. Particularly during January and February, there are significantly more cases of increased depression and anxiety, and overall levels of health, wellness, and morale begin to drop. 3rd quarter grades follow the same pattern, typically dipping during this time of year, so the days are designed to account for just that. The process to create these work-free days was a long and complicated one. Of Mr. Graf’s eight years working at Latin, he has tried to instate a day like this for seven, although this is the first time that something is actually being carried out. With something that will affect the entire school, including regular and honors and AP classes each with different, strict schedules, it is a difficult policy to implement. “Latin is a competitive environment and teachers are fierce about what they want to do,” explained Mr. Graf. “It can be hard to enforce with 60 different teachers.” In order to get everyone familiar with the new procedure, a message was sent out in early December to begin explaining what the days are and the thought process behind them. Just this past week, a second follow-up email was sent with the specific dates. The goal is that, with the extra time we will be given, we will not only use it to de-stress, but also do service, reflect, and complete other projects that we have always wanted to do but have never seemed to have the time. Mr. Graf spoke about his hope for this upcoming weekend, explaining how he wished people would go see Selma, a movie honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight for equality. This movie, like the numerous other productive things we can do during this extra time homework-free, can still benefit us much educationally as it does mentally. While it is ultimately the individual teacher’s decision whether or not to follow this new rule, we can only hope that people will be supportive and recognize the work and time that went into making these days possible. Only days away from the first one, it will be interesting to see how this first work-free day plays out, the reactions from students and teachers, and the benefits or consequences that it will have on the community as a whole.  ]]>