Summer Homework = Summertime Sadness

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Connor Henry, Feature Editor

Rather than enjoy the great outdoors, float down the Animas River, spend time with friends, or simply just relax, countless high school students were forced indoors this summer with hours of summer homework in preparation for the upcoming school year.

Especially for Advanced Placement (AP) classes, teachers feel the need to pile on homework during one of the few breaks worked into the busy student schedule. So why do some of the brightest students get punished for their class choices? Teachers argue that the students signed up for a challenge when taking harder classes, or even that summer homework is an introduction to students for the upcoming year. But that’s the reason for the informational meetings at the end of the school year and teacher recommendations for student enrollment in advanced classes. In reality, summer homework does exactly the opposite of its purpose. Instead of feeling prepared and looking forward to the upcoming year, students dread that their summer homework will soon be due, and start the year off with a negative attitude.

Another argument teachers provide is that AP is designed to be college preparatory, as that kind of work level will be expected a few years into the future. So why, then, do colleges not make their students do summer homework? Besides perhaps reading a textbook or novel for class, colleges rarely, if ever, assign work before the term has started. If AP wants to model its courses on the college style, it should follow that method as closely as possible, to keep a sense of continuity.

Following a similar track, with the 50-minute periods Durango High School has implemented in the past two years, teachers can feel rushed with their lessons. With more work done before the school year starts, teachers can plan in extra time to cover everything on the agenda with time to spare. Once again, however, AP should be based on how college classes will be run, and many courses cover the same material in just one semester. Time should not be an issue with that in mind, because in college, no class period is wasted or factored in as leeway for falling behind.

Summer homework can also provide teachers a way to assess what level the students are at entering a class, whether it be in writing, analytical reading, or problem solving. However, many classes give students a few days after the start of term to revise or adjust their work as more detailed instruction is given. For math, students can check their answers; for history, students can reread and modify their notes; for English, students can revise essays as teachers cover new content. Now, it’s not that this process isn’t helpful. Students gladly seize these rare chances to revise their work before submitting it, often terrified of the outcome of the first grade in the gradebook. The idea that summer homework could essentially be done in that first week of school, though, suggests that completing it over summer break may have been unnecessary.

Just because summer homework isn’t a favorite activity among students, especially in the summer, a time that should be entirely dedicated to recharging batteries and recuperating in mental preparation for the next school year, students shouldn’t submit work of less quality than they originally would during classes. Although it may contribute to decreased motivation later in the year, an assignment is still an assignment, and the decision of its validity will always remain with the instructor. They must ask themselves if burnt out students are worth the weight of the work.