Schools are closed but holiday homework has now to be completed. Despite the efforts teachers make to engage students, they tend to shy away from the tasks assigned
The month of June may be equivalent to a hot sauna bath (with dabs of powdery dust) in most parts of India but it comes with the highly anticipated, month-long summer vacation in a school-goer’s life. Ideas worth months of thinking, trips planned way in advance seek fulfilment in the coveted month, when there is no school to go to.
How lovely does that sound? With so much going on already, around the third week also comes a feeling of anxiety as a reminder for these kids to finally have a look at their summer holiday homework.
Yes, it is a difficult space to be in, at least for the free-spirited ones, as this time which is seen as a window to venture into something new, comes with restrictions due to something as uneventful as homework. Many times, the practice is kept for the end of the month by students and done in haste, only to secure grades.
Sehaj, a class 10 student of DAV Centenary Public School, Chander Nagar, tells us about her dilemma with summer homework. “I am taking tuitions even in holidays, apart from doing homework from school. There is not much space for me to do anything else. Holidays do not mean a lot for anyone who is in their Board exam year,” she says. She also mentions the app, ‘Snap Homework’ that her teachers use to send daily homework on her mother’s device.
For those whom academics is not an enjoyable occupation, homework is the last thing a student wants to deal with during holidays. Navneet Boonga, a high school teacher at Red Roses Public School, Saket, explains how holiday homework for her students is part of the class assessment. In a setting like that, students put in some sort of serious effort to secure their overall performance. However, she is not in favour of subject-based homework, specially for junior classes. Boonga, who is also a mother of a six-year-old, feels it is mostly due to her efforts that her child’s summer homework gets done, and doesn’t contribute much to his development.
She feels this time can rather be utilised to participate in something extra-curricular but activity-based, different from what they already learn in school. “Like visiting the vegetable market and interviewing the vendors about their daily routine. Talking to foreign tourists or solving the problem of car parking in their locality,” she adds, pointing at activities that cater to skills not necessarily inculcated in school hours.
Holiday homework is infamous for not being taken seriously. There are ‘service providers’ who will do your homework for a fee. Sometimes parents do a major chunk of it. The fear of not getting it right. The fear of redo-ing it because your dog ate it. The concerns are multiple.
A look at homework given to class 5 of different schools in Delhi that is readily available on their websites gives a quick view of the effort their staff makes to design homework that the students may enjoy doing. Schools like DPS, Banyan Tree or Convent of Jesus & Mary follow a pattern in work given for each subject: reading old classics and writing their synopses to writing mathematical tables multiple times or doing the customary ‘sulekh’ for Hindi. Basically, exercises students have been doing since ages. Nothing in the homework plan takes into consideration the innumerable possibilities for students to involve themselves with these subjects wholeheartedly.
Yet, schools like OPG World School, Dwarka, have a different take on holiday homework and make an effort to not follow the traditional scheme in which the holiday homework is set. For class 5, the letter from this school reads:
Dear Children, Greetings!!
The long awaited summer holidays are finally here! Vacations are synonymous with fun, frolic, playing for longer hours with friends and exploring new places! But dear children, there is a lot more you can do to make your vacations more interesting, along with doing all that your heart desires.
A story is not just about the plot, the characters, the setting, the problem and its solution. This time let’s read the story beyond the book. Let‘s join the adventure with Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy and gear up for our ride to Narnia! Your adventure begins after reading the book! We have integrated all your other subjects with this story to make it more interesting for you! Hope you enjoy doing it as much as we liked making it for you all!
Have a Great Summer Vacation!
What is noticeable is the humongous amount of sensitivity with which the homework is introduced by the class teacher. The note follows with carefully composed questions and activities related to the story under each subject, including music.
However, in a time where online multimedia has taken over and keeps most of our attention, including that of school goers, if these activities are enough to involve students’ interest, intuition and thought process is still a question.
The online world is full of developments happening around the world, that makes it a unique knowledge source for students. Having said that, many students don’t know what to do with this new-found knowledge as learning in school is about remembering formulae and facts by heart.
In such a space, holiday homework could be engineered in a way that bridges this gap for students that entails educating them about how they can make use of ideas that truly intrigue them. A chance to develop something of their own, which is not defined and bound by the usual academic subjects and utilises their interest, intellect and unique online and offline experiences.