However, that’s not the end of the story. I also argue it’s one of my favorites because my teacher introduced me to Pip and Miss Havisham and Estella in her unique and talented way once we started school that year. My only job that summer was to get through the texts. Upon our return to class, my teacher spent the first months of school helping us unpack them.
What I wasn’t expected to do upon my return to class in September was take a comprehension exam, a vocabulary test, and a character quiz that either set me up for success or failure within the first days of school. While reading the novels over the summer, I wasn’t stressed to the point of needing expensive private tutors, Cliffs Notes, Spark Notes, Wikipedia (if it’d existed) just to be “prepared” to be tested on day 1 of the new school year.
I’m sure my teachers must have been aware of the summer loss that we hear so much about today. They knew a summer reading assignment was a good idea. They must also have been aware of the importance of their role in teaching. Yes, my teacher challenged me with complex text, but knew that I was going to need her for:
- strategies for how to maneuver the subtleties of the themes
- background for how to glean context from character’s names
- approaches on how to read 19th century literature with all its language challenges
- help in understanding the power of the cliff hanger, audience and figurative language in relationship to the author’s staying power
- assistance in synthesizing the symbols from both novels to make an argument about classic, canonical literature
I am not opposed to summer homework, but I’d like to see it approached in a way that celebrates teaching and teachers while giving kids opportunities to enjoy their summers, challenge their minds, and kick start their curriculum work load in September.
Because I’ll argue any day that testing isn’t the point of education; rather, it’s the learning and love of the process that allows success.
Don’t you agree?