I continue to hear about an increasing number of students that are being asked to complete summer assignments in advance of the school year in order to “prepare” for their AP classes in the fall. It appears that one of two things is driving this. Either there is a lack of competence, confidence or organization amongst the teachers that are delivering the AP classes meaning they feel they need more time than is allocated to them during the school year, or school administrations are simply failing to allocate sufficient time for the AP class to be taught. Either way, asking students to use what is supposed to be vacation time to do school work bothers me on several levels.
Firstly where does it all end? Do we start teaching after school, during lunch periods, Saturday mornings? Why not have the kids come and live at the school or perhaps in a tent at the bottom of the teachers garden? They’d probably do better with all that extra study!
Secondly it can set a dangerous precedent. I hear plenty of teachers say, “Well, I love teaching the students and I don’t mind giving up my free time to do it”. Fair enough, that’s their decision, but it can force other teachers into similar situations where this persistent use of personal time becomes the expected norm. In this situation teachers that don’t want to give up their free time can be taken advantage of. It’s potentially the top of a very slippery slope. How many other professionals give up as much, unpaid free time as it is, let alone more and more?
I feel there is a real problem with asking the students to do school work during vacation time. It is NOT serving them and it is revealing a broken system of learning. If there is insufficient time in the school year to teach the AP course, then don’t offer it. By agreeing to work all these “extra” hours teachers it can be argued that teachers are undermining the profession and potentially damaging their students.