By: Hannah Sullivan ‘24
On August 20th, Erin Keville and I conducted a survey that went out to forty people. The basis of the survey was to scale students’ progress on the summer reading assignments, with only two weeks to go before the start of classes. The survey was as follows:
Have you a) finished your summer reading (including the work that goes along with it, b) started the readings but not yet finished them yet, or c) not started the reading(s) or the work yet?
Out of 40 responses, 8 students answered a, 26 answered b, and 6 answered c.
Fifteen percent of students had not started the summer reading by August twentieth, Sixty-five percent of students had only started by then and not yet finished, while twenty percent had completed it all.
Dr. Oakes, the chair of the English department, gave her thoughts on these results:
“Based on what I see in my classroom each fall, I’m not surprised to learn that more than half of the students surveyed hadn’t finished their summer reading so close to the start of the school year. As a parent of students and as a person who cherishes downtime myself, I realize that summers can be full of family obligations, summer jobs, and travel. And I know that not everyone’s ideal summer day is like mine, sitting as close to the ocean as possible and reading from dawn to dusk!
I do find it concerning, though, that so many students wait so long to turn to their summer reading. In part, this is because one of the reasons Hebron teachers assign this work for the summer is to encourage students to see reading as a habit that happens all year long. We hope that students can make time to read in a favorite place and at a pace that works for them and, in doing so, realize that a little reading can make for a nice meditative or relaxing moment. I’d like to feel that we are helping students cultivate a stronger appreciation for reading. Another reason I assign summer work is because my students are usually in my Honors or AP classes. These classes are designed to move at a speed and at a difficulty level similar to a college course; thus, the day classes begin in the fall I want to start setting expectations for intellectual discussion and jump right into a conversation about the (what I consider!) intriguing texts from summer reading. We don’t have time in these classes to read a few chapters at a time and gradually gather enough context and content to discuss. So if students haven’t done the summer work for my class, they can be at a disadvantage right from the start. This goes for students in other teachers’ courses, too: Waiting too long to do the reading—or not doing it at all—makes it harder for a student to connect to the class material from Day One.”
Whether Dr. Oakes’ stong suggestion to keep up with your summer work-for your own benefit- influences you to change your mind about reading on vacation or not, I think many students can agree with us on the fact that while we may say now that we’ll be more productive this summer, in reality, it will still probably get left to the last minute.