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Summer Work ... JUST SAY NO

Posted by on in Education Resources
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The #BFC530 conversation on Twitter today was centered on Summer work. There are many people who believe we, as educators, must do something to combat this Summer slide that students go through every Summer. 

I hear many educators talking about this slide and quite honestly I never really understood the concept. I live in Social Studies world where most of the students who walk through my doors have very little previous knowledge about what they will learn in my class so the Summer Slide concept never really applied, which is why I "Googled" the question, "What is Summer Slide?" and my top result was this from Reading is Fundamental .

I understand the value of reading, but should a school mandate the reading to kid? What constitutes "reading"? If it doesn't have to be a book than why do school deem it necessary to have required Summer reading. Even more interesting, if reading is important to do than why does my daughter have math worksheets to complete this Summer? You know what I did ... I "Googled" the question, "Why do kids have to do math work over the Summer?" and I found this article from Today's Parent; Do You Give Your Kids Homework Over the Summer? The article talked about parents giving workbooks for their kids to complete over the Sumer so they would be prepared for the upcoming school year. Even mentioned how they wouldn't get to play with their friends on the Slip-n-Slide until they completed their workbooks. I commend the will to ensure your kids are prepared, but at what cost. Sure they enter the new grade level prepared ... maybe even better prepared than their peers, what does it get them? A more relaxed school year because they already know what the teacher is teaching so they get to sit and listen while the other kids catch up.

I am not knocking parents do with their kids, but I think forcing kids to learn from a book or do some arbitrary assignment over the Summer is misguided. Let's be honest, if you are a High School teacher you are more than likely assigning something to the incoming kids that you feel will prepare them for the year or worse something you really don't want to teach so you make it Summer work and force the kids to learn it on their own ... like when AP US History teachers assign the "Discovery Chapters" over the Summer. Don't believe me? Here is an excerpt from an APUSH syllabus: 

Now I am wondering if Summer work is more based on having kids complete work that may not be covered during the school year and NOT Summer Slide. Are teachers violating the sanctity of Summer with work just so they can have more time to cover material before testing? 

I think we need to start thinking about what is in the best interest of the students and not what is in the best interest of the test score. Honestly, maybe we should seek to inspire the students to do work during the Summer ... something they passionate about. I know one the worst feeling I had as an AP US History teacher was fielding the email from a stressed out future student during the Summer. The frantic email went something like this ... 

Mr. Dill, 

I am so sorry I have not been able to complete my Summer work. I have not had access to the Internet nor time to complete the assignment because I am on a missions trip in Panama. I promise I will get my work completed when I return. Please do not drop me from the class. 

So, while they are following their passion ... making a difference in the world ... they are stressed about being dropped from the class for not doing their Summer work. 

Isn't learning about inspiring the kids? 

This is why I JUST SAY NO to Summer work.

I encourage your feedback.

Blog Image, Erin's Homework Night, used under Creative Commons Licensing and is found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidjlee/8554067970/ .


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Dennis Dill is a Social Studies and Instructional Television teacher at Jewett School of the Arts, a STEAM PreK - 8th grade school, in Winter Haven, Florida. Dennis earned a BA in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences from the University of South Florida and an MS in Education Media Design and Technology from FullSail University. Dennis has been teaching for 14 years.

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Guest Sunday, 23 October 2016