Summer homework elicits wide range of opinions on its value

Lizzie Garvey, staff reporter

It’s the Sunday before the first day of school, and students are furiously writing, reading and typing in an effort to try and get the homework done that they were assigned before their summer break began. According to an unscientific Oracle-conducted survey, 61 out of 203 students had homework this past summer break in subjects such as math and English. On the contrary, 48 out of the 203 students believe that summer homework benefits them or others.

One student who believes summer homework is in no way beneficial to students is junior Arij Virani. According to Virani, those with summer homework either complete the assignment at the very beginning of the summer or procrastinate, and neither way works well; procrastination leads to stress, Virani said, and doing it early will cause students to forget what they had completed in the beginning of the summer by the time school rolls around.

“[Teachers] tell us we have a quiz or a test on the first day, and the students who do [the homework] all the way at the beginning [of the summer] to get it over with don’t really remember [anything],” Virani said. “It ends up just being that the student read it three months ago and now doesn’t know anything that’s supposed to be on the test or the quiz.”

English teacher Stephanie Bailey, however, believes that students need to complete the reading assignments they receive at the end of the school year throughout the summer in order to get the real benefits of summer homework.

“If you do it in one week you’re going to fly through it, you’re not going to understand the purpose of it, you are not able to talk about it intelligently and eloquently when you return to class, and you’re not able to be tested well on it because you haven’t done it to learn, you’ve done it as a task,” Bailey said.

On the other hand, Virani also believes that homework for certain courses can serve as a great precursor for the class and prepare a student after a summer without practice.

“I think math, to me, would be the only exception, maybe Spanish even, because those are the two things that you have to keep practicing at in order to get really good at it,” Virani said. “For English and reading, once you know how to read everything, it’s just kind of uphill from there.”

Unlike Virani, junior Sam Dale believes summer homework for more difficult courses, such as AP Language and Composition, is also beneficial to students and can serve as adequate preparation for the upcoming year and future AP exams.

“When you only have a certain amount of time before the test, the sooner you start school or the sooner you start learning, the less crammed you’re going to be and the more time you can take to learn the material,” Dale said.

Math teacher Teresa Youngberg is another South teacher who gives out summer homework, and believes that it prepares her students for the year ahead without being too much work or too stressful. On the other hand, Youngberg also thinks that in some cases, summer homework can be more harmful than helpful, especially when given in excess.

“If it’s [an assignment] that you’re spending the entire summer working on, that’s way too much homework, because then you don’t even have a break,” Youngberg said. “But if it’s something you can complete the week before school or something like that, then I think that’s totally reasonable.”

Even if teachers believe they’re giving a reasonable amount of homework, some students, such as sophomore Kate Solem, are still negatively impacted by any type of assignment they may be required to complete over their summer break.

“That kind of stuff stresses me out a little bit, especially when all your friends are hanging out and you’re stuck at home doing a math packet,” Solem said.

Other students, such as Dale, think that if some aspects of summer homework were changed, the assignments would be much less stressful and more beneficial in the long run. For example, Virani believes the homework she had been assigned over the summer didn’t serve much of a purpose in the class and felt somewhat unnecessary.

“We did do things related to [the assignment], like we did a fishbowl activity where we had a group discussion and we had the test on it on the first day, but other than that, [the summer homework’s] just been kind of tossed out,” Virani said.

According to Bailey, however, the summer homework and the assessments given within the first weeks of school  have a very important purpose. Besides introducing students to main themes of the entire course, the assignment also allows the teacher to assess what level the students are at regarding their reading and comprehension skill.

“There’s obviously a difference in ability level and skill level, so it tells us who we need to send to the TLC and it tells us who’s going to do well for the first quarter,” Bailey said.  “It helps us diagnose some possible problems in comprehension as well.”