Talking Points: Should students be required to complete homework over the summer?


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Natalie Kainz, 16, King George V School

Summer is often thought of as a time for relaxation, hanging out on the beach and lazing around in the sun. But it shouldn’t be an excuse for students to forget everything they learned during the previous academic year. Summer homework gives students a chance to brush up on their knowledge. It would be a shame to have spent so long learning only to forget it over a period of two months.

Summer homework also makes it easier to slip back into the school routine when the new term starts. But it is important that teachers don’t give their students too much homework. This way they have time to take part in internships, summer camps and other extracurricular activities they wouldn’t normally be able to.

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Sakshi Gupta, 14, Kiangsu Chekiang College International Section

Most students hate doing holiday homework, which is to be expected. They believe they should have a well-deserved break during the summer, but I don’t agree. I believe homework helps to sharpen their minds and ease them into the new school year.

Also, many students binge-watch Netflix and other TV shows during the holidays so giving them homework ensures they don’t forget what they learned during the previous year. However, a heavy workload can be counterproductive because it could mean students rush their assignments without properly learning anything.

Ngai Yeung, 17, International Christian School

A summer holiday is not a holiday if there is homework to do. Students are not supposed to work all year, and that’s what holidays are for: to relax and take a break. With summer homework – especially if there’s a lot of it – there would be no time to rest or play. Even those who are travelling overseas or taking part in special classes would always be thinking about the school projects, preventing them from fully enjoying their “holiday”.

Some may argue that without homework, students may forget what they have learned and waste precious time reviewing old material at the beginning of the new school year. But some teachers don’t even check the summer homework, and many students just do it without giving any thought to the content. So does summer homework really help students to learn, or is it merely something to do for the sake of finishing it?

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Felix Yeung, 15, Phillips Exeter Academy

To many students, homework is agony, a serious black mark on an otherwise relaxing summer holiday. Still, evidence suggests that summer homework is good for the developing mind.

According to Harris Cooper, a professor at Duke University in the US, the long summer holiday messes up the rhythm of instruction, leads to forgetting, and requires that time be spent looking over old material when students return to school in autumn. I believe summer homework plays an important role in boosting their skills and preparing them for the challenges later in life.

Sociologist Karl Alexander, of Johns Hopkins University in the US, showed that underprivileged students lose more knowledge and skills during the summer months. In contrast, children from wealthy families who attend summer camps and other activities appeared to be sharper than less privileged kids.

To all those who complain: suck it up. I mean, would you rather spend your summer months in school?

Zachary Perez Jones, 13, South Island School

Students should be given a small amount of homework during the summer holidays. However, the assignments – for example, individual research or self-study – should be related to their new syllabus. This would help students to stay in touch with their schoolwork and prepare to face the changes of the new academic year.

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Vidushi Singh, 16, American International School

Teachers like to say it’s good to revise once in a while during the summer, and that this can be done by completing homework. That might be true but, just like what teachers get during summer, the students deserve a break. We shouldn’t have to think about homework during the summer because we should be more focused on our health. In school, we tire ourselves out by learning for six to seven hours in class. Then we go home, where we stay up and do more work. It leaves us sleep deprived and stressed out. A summer holiday helps us fall back into a healthy sleeping pattern, and gives us time to relax. I know what it’s like having to do summer homework while all your friends are out having fun. Just let us run free for a couple of months.

Eunice Yip, 17, Hong Kong Shue Yan University

Never give students any homework during the summer! Students deserve a happy holiday, as they have worked so hard throughout the year. From September onwards, students have quizzes, projects, homework, and exams. Students who take up leader positions are twice as busy as others, because they have to attend meetings and activities, and make sure things are running smoothly. Students also attend tutorial classes during weekends. I understand that schools want their students to stay sharp, but if you push them too hard, you’ll get the opposite result.

Students aren’t robots. Even robots need to recharge when they run out of power. Students have the right to relax and do whatever they want to do during summer.

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Iris Lee, 16, Hong Kong International School

There is no point giving students summer holiday homework. I could argue the “summer is a time to relax” angle, but the reality is that – especially in Hong Kong – students (egged on by their parents) use the summer as an opportunity to cram for tests, go to university camps, and do whatever else they can to get an edge on their peers. Add homework to this and you get people with too much stress and mental health issues. Homework doesn’t help decide whether students fare well in academics or not – a person’s work habits and time management skills do.

Bakhita Fung, 17, Island School

I recently read an article in The Economist magazine about how summertime is the most unequal time for students of different backgrounds. Those from rich families are able to afford summer classes and other programmes, while those from poorer backgrounds are not able to access these privileges. So, as much as I like to laze around during the summer, I certainly think that there is value in giving homework to help underprivileged students stay at the same level as their well-off counterparts.

It also gives us work to do and goals to achieve. Sometimes you need some low points to truly enjoy the high points of summer. Another added benefit is that we can review concepts learned over the year. This is important for students who take courses such as the IGCSE, DSE, or IB diploma. It doesn’t have to be stressful at all – as long as teachers help students find a balance between work and relaxation, summer can be both a productive and fun time for all.

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Charlotte Fong, 16, International Christian School

While teachers can assign summer homework, it should be entirely up to the students if they want to do it or not. After a long and stressful academic year, summer holidays offer a well-deserved break for students. While some might want to use this time to get ahead in their studies, others should have the freedom to enjoy their time off. By providing optional summer assignments, teachers would give kids the flexibility to plan their own activities.

Hemant Bharwaney, 15, Renaissance College

Even though the summer holidays are seen as a time for relaxation after a long and stressful school year, it’s important to maintain a certain level of learning so that, by the time school comes around again, we are prepared for it. I acknowledge the views of people who oppose this idea, as well as their reasoning that “students need a break”. But the earlier this habit of doing summer homework is created, the more efficient we will be when we reach our final years of high school and university, where summer is treated as a golden opportunity to get things done.

In our next Talking Points, we’ll discuss:

Should parents be allowed to track their children’s whereabouts via their mobile phones?

We are now accepting your answers for this topic. To take part, email your answer with your name, age, and school, along with a nice, clear selfie (make sure it’s not blurry), to [email protected] by lunchtime on Monday. Don’t forget to include “Talking Points” in the subject line.