Summer Homework

Helpful or unneccesary

by Arjun Thomas, editor in chief

Summer is approaching. It’s the long waited freedom from nine, long, hard, months of school. However, one cannot truly be free from the grip of school. Many teachers assign the ever­daunting, summer homework.

These assignments that many students call pointless are starting to become a thing of the past. Schools are beginning to prohibit summer homework to accommodate their student’s busy lives.

So what’s Shorewood’s stance on summer homework?

Daniel Neufeldt, a sophomore, said, “Summer homework is tedious, but it’s a good thing because it keeps people educated over the summer; you apply concepts that you learned, and it also prepares you for the beginning of the school year.

However, Neufeldt doesn’t have a summer job, and has relaxed schedule for most of the summer.

Neufeldt’s opinion is common, in fact many psychologists stress the importance of the summer assignments. In an article by the New York Times, Harris Cooper, a psychologist at Duke University, stated that summer homework is essential for a student to maintain their reading skills.

Reading skills often decline over the summer. Students neglect reading literature, and are not subject to the rigor that they undergo during the school year. This is the reason that the English department consistently gives homework every summer.

Tim Murray, a 10th­grade English teacher, believes that summer homework is essential to the English curriculum.

“It provides the entire class common content to discuss from day one,” Murray said.

Murray reasons that summer homework also functions as an important diagnostic tool.

“It also provides a writing sample for the teacher so they can immediately assess student skill levels and, in fact, determine if they are in the right class”, Murray stated.

Even though he supports summer homework, Murray feels sympathy to the plight of his students.

According to Murray, kids are busier now than they have ever been. However, he believes that his summer assignments are not that demanding, and are easy to complete if one does not procrastinate.

Nevertheless, Murray is open to terminating summer homework for his classes if a valid argument is constructed.

“I would consider dropping summer homework if one were to make for me a compelling enough argument against it, which some in my department have recently come close to achieving,” he said.

This issue is currently being debated by the English department.

English is not the only subject that assigns summer homework, classes in the social studies department regularly assign work over break.

Jaime Fletcher, who teaches World History I and AP World History, justifies her decision to assign homework over the summer. “The summer assignment enables students to arrive in September for APWH with a greater understanding of world history and strong examples of historical scholarship that they can draw upon throughout the course and on their exam in May,” Fletcher said.

She believes that Shorewood students face disadvantages because school starts after labor day. Therefore, it’s necessary for AP students to make up lost time over the summer. Without summer homework, “They [students] would learn less and be at a disadvantage for May,” she said.

Fletcher would reconsider her stance on summer homework if schedule changes are made. She notes that the current school calendar doesn’t coincide with the AP exam, “Currently we have about five­six weeks post the exam. I need that time front loaded,” Fletcher stated.

Issues with AP exam schedule is also one of the reasons that Constance Kelly, who teaches AP Biology and Honors Chem, assigns summer homework. Additionally, she believes that summer homework is a good diagnostic tool for science teachers. If students are not able to receive assistance with their weaknesses in science, their problems are reciprocated for the entire year. For example, this year’s Honors Chemistry homework focused on significant figures and scientific notation. These two topics frequently appear in most facets of the chemistry curriculum.

Kelly understands that her opinion and her ideas are unreasonable to most students, and she sympathizes with them.

“My own son used summer vacation for doing some really worthwhile things—travel, internships, backpacking trips, and more. Summer homework assignments intruded on the time he had for these other activities that were part of his education,” Kelly recollected.

However, she, along with many other teachers share the opinion that, “With planning, there’s time to fit in summer assignments and summer activities.”