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Should students get assignments over spring break?

Posted at 7:46 AM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 08:46:06-04

Students getting assignments over spring break has been a debate for years.

Whenever the principal at Bixby High School asked his group of 70 plus teachers who assigned homework over spring break, only one teacher raised her hand.

Surprisingly, it was art teacher Julie Jankowski. She said, “In my AP studio art class, kids are doing a college level class basically, trying to earn credit for college. In order to make their work more rigorous, I do have things that they need to complete over spring break.”

One of those students is senior Brynn Gartner. She admitted, “It’s something that I would do over spring break even if it wasn’t assigned to me.”

Jankowski said there are three portfolios and other criteria her ap students have to meet for the college board exam, which is right around the corner.

But Gartner added, “I understand the annoyance of being forced to have homework over break and it’s maybe on a subject you’re not as dedicated to or you don’t like as much.”

That’s one of the reasons English teacher Shelby Joiner lets her students off assignment-free.

Joiner explained, “I think that breaks are really important for this kids that they get a chance to decompress. If I, as a teacher, need that break then so do my students. If I’m looking forward to rest and relaxation and spending time with my family, I think my students need to have that too and they don’t need to have the overwhelming, impending doom of having an assignment due as soon as they get back.”

And Joiner knows how students operate, adding, “As much as we like to think that they won’t wait until the very last possible second, they’re going to wait until Sunday night to do it.”

She argues there is little education value in that and students could be learning in other ways. “You can learn just as much from going on vacation with your family. It’s just going to look a little bit different . . . If I’ve given you a huge homework project, now I’m taking away from the opportunity that you have to go learn in a different way because you’re too busy worrying about this.”

Gartner said she understands the importance of students having a break to refresh their minds. But the senior says if a student is taking courses that they plan to use in the future, like AP classes, they shouldn’t have a problem working on them.

Joiner agreed, saying, “I think there are certain circumstances where homework is required . . . If the next step is eleventh grade or college and that project needs to get done, that’s a completely different scenario. When I think of homework, I think of more like a busy work situation.”

Jankowski, the lone teacher who assigns work, said she doesn’t call it ‘homework,’ adding, “I just say you have a deadline, and you can do it on your own timeline. Some kids actually work better when they’re at home alone, isolated than when they’re in a room full of kids and it’s busy and non-stop.”

On our KJRH Facebook poll, 88 percent of viewers said students should not be assigned work over spring break.

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