Senior and leadership member T.K. Dahlke is working on a project to designate certain days or weekends on which teachers are not allowed to assign homework. Dahlke first had the idea for this policy towards the end of last school year, and began taking action in late August of this year.
“I’m thinking of having three or four pilot days where either there’s no homework due or tests on the Monday following a weekend,” he said. ” The goal is to promote people to indulge in things that they find interesting or that they don’t have enough time for.”
This is not a push to eliminate homework, according to Dahlke, but rather a strategic way to combat stress while maintaining a challenging learning environment. Dahlke’s project was partially in reaction to the 2016 Tamalpais High School Wellness Survey. According to the survey, students are most stressed out about their amount of homework. Additionally the survey asked students to name which of 11 stress related symptoms they had experienced in the past month. Over half of surveyed students reported that they had dealt with exhaustion, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety.
To start the project, Dahlke has approached Principal J.C. Farr to discuss his plan.
“I’ve had multiple impromptu conversations with Mr. Farr about this and one formal sit down, where I presented statistics and what I thought and what I wanted to do,” Dahlke said. “[Farr] is super on board with it. He likes the idea but ultimately it comes down to the teacher’s’ opinion, and and what teachers want to do in their classrooms.”
Dahlke’s next steps are to attend teacher meetings, present his plan, and get feedback.
“This isn’t just something that either works or doesn’t work. It’s something that we’re trying to develop and make sure it fits for all the teachers, students…and admin,” he said. “My goal is to present something that we can start with and mold it completely [in] whichever way everybody deems fit.”
Farr supports the addition of no-homework days, though isn’t sure how teachers will respond. “If you give enough time for [teachers] to plan around [not giving homework] even those classes that require practice or repetition [will be alright],” he said.
According to Social Studies teacher Matthew Tierney’s estimate, about 60 percent of teachers would support a “no homework weekend” while 40 percent would be against it. “It’s possible that teachers [against a no-homework weekend] sometimes think that their curriculum is more important than it is.” he said. Tierney supports the idea of decreasing homework amount but believes it should be a voluntary decision by the teachers.
So far, Dahlke’s project is in the early stages because of the limited access to teacher meetings. He hopes to have a decision by the end of the fall semester, in time to implement a policy for the spring.