As I passed through each class, my excitement for holiday break diminished more and more. The work kept on piling up, and I couldn’t see past the mountain of work I would have to surmount in the meek week and a half “break.” At the end of it all, I had one essay, one presentation, two books, and a massive 5-6 hour take home test to finish all in a week and a half surrounded by the holidays. I will be doing more work during my break than if I were at school. How can this count as a break?
The reason holidays and weekends were created was to give ourselves time to rest and recover. It’s important to make sure we don’t work and study too often. There needs to be downtime to alleviate stress. Yet, some teachers don’t see it this way. Some teachers see breaks as a time to make up for lost time and prepare for upcoming classes. Meanwhile, students are deprived of the break time they need and deserve.
Work assigned over break could easily be avoided due to better time management. Nearly every student can name a couple class periods from each of their classes where time was mismanaged or completely wasted. For example, in one class, the first ten minutes of class during Tuesdays and Thursdays are dedicated to playing online quizzes. Yet, an essay was assigned over holiday break. Most students would rather have freedom over holiday break than play online quizzes for twenty minutes per week. But, time management has caused them to miss out on essential break time and slave away at their Chromebooks to finish an essay by December 28th.
Also, students aren’t robots driven to complete homework assignment after homework assignment. Students fatigue and require rest periods. A study conducted by the University of South California revealed that rest periods are actually essential to mental processes. Rest periods are used as a time to process what has just been learned and reflect on our past behavior. We learn from our mistakes and develop cognition. The proposed “We need to assign homework to keep minds active” theory has been disproven through countless studies. Rest periods are helpful to student development and achievement and when breaks are given, they must be respected by teachers.
Students also need breaks to catch up on their well-deserved sleep. Of course students can fall asleep on time and get a healthy eight hours during school, but let’s be honest. With projects, homework, social responsibilities, and jobs, this is really easy to fall behind on. It’s known that teenagers are nowhere near their 8 hour sleep schedule target, even if they try to. Breaks provide a healthy way to catch up on sleep schedules and make up for a lack of sleep. But with copious assignments and projects, this sleep will be deprived once again. The students will once again procrastinate and have to stay up late to finish assignments. It’s just a repetition of their behavior during school.
Break periods provide students with an essential break from stress. Long periods of stress, including that from school work, can cause serious health issues. It’s extremely important to break up work schedules to avoid these major health risks. By assigning work over these break periods, the time period students are affected by stress is lengthened. In the pursuit of academic achievement, students are willing to put themselves at serious risks by ignoring stress and overworking. But, this can be detrimental to physical and mental health.
Assigning homework over break is paradoxical and harmful. Sure, maybe teachers are on a tight schedule and need to stay on pace with their teaching schedules. But, they must at least respect the purpose of rest periods and give students an opportunity to recover.