As students get ready to finally start that break assignment they’ve avoided, it’s time to ask: is break homework ever justified?

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With the December break sadly getting closer to its end, there’s something most students are trying to forget: those break homework assignments that they’ve put off for as long as they could. Though not every teacher assigns homework over the break, some courses give students significant assignments.

The issue with this is that the weeks leading up to a major school break are incredibly busy for students. On top of the usual hours spent studying and completing homework, teachers seem to always inundate students with assessments and essays before the holiday break. All of this additional stress and extra assignments on to-do lists would be justified if, at the end of it, students gained a week of respite. However, for many students, the only difference between school being in session and being on break is the location in which their work is completed. In other words, your “reward” for getting through many assignments and enduring copious tests leading up to the break is just more due dates.

Most students are all too familiar with the draining, never-ending, mundane cycle of their school-centered lives; wake up, travel  to Townsend Harris, go home, complete homework, and sleep at a late hour just to do it all over again the next day. Students spend an average of 8 hours at school per weekday, but have limited time at home due to 2-4 hours being taken up by studying and extracurriculars. 

The only intermission from this uninterrupted loop is the occasional holiday break, be it Thanksgiving, Eid, Spring Break, or the December holidays. So, if breaks mark the few times students get to rest their overworked, tired brains, should their educators continue to assign work during holiday breaks?

No, no they shouldn’t. 

But considering the many factors that could lead a teacher to assign work during a holiday break, the question might not produce a simple “yes” or “no” answer. 

Consider AP classes, which are the courses where students are most likely to get a break assignment. The majority of Harrisites are enrolled in AP classes. As the dates for various AP exams are nearing, teachers may feel pressured to assign work based on the curriculum, lessening the chances of falling behind. A potential setback induced by the holiday break would be detrimental for both the teacher, who has to cover all the material by the time of the test, and the students, who will be the ones to take the test. In this case, what is the teacher supposed to do: assign work over the break to keep their students on track or allow them a week of rest?

In some cases, the extra work is justifiable – but due to THHS being a very academically rigorous school, Harrisites deserve a break.  

Content that teachers have not had time to cover during class time should not be left to students for a break assignment when what they need most is a mental break to recharge. In fact, it is unethical to assign an abundant amount of homework, considering that these holidays are meant for students to celebrate holidays and spend time with their loved ones. The time spent with family should not be coupled with the stress of understandably having left a major assignment undone hanging over one’s head. Yes, AP content is important and there’s a test already looming, but not covering all the content is less a problem than not being able to properly learn the rest of the content because students haven’t had time to recharge.

So, to answer the question “when is homework over break justifiable?,” the answer is hardly ever. Teachers should be able to foresee events that may push back curriculum via their strict calendar. If they don’t plan lessons to account for such events, students shouldn’t face the repercussions. No adult should be asked to work on vacation. The same should be true for students.