Do We Have Too Much Summer Homework?

Charles Spiegelfogel ’21

Summer homework typically involves read- ing one or two books for English class and a Talmud reading assignment. Incoming freshmen have two books, sophomores have one book and are required to learn select chapters of Pirkei Avot, juniors have one book and two articles for Talmud, and seniors are given specific homework for each of their honors classes. Many students and teachers debate whether summer homework is really necessary. Coming off the intense workload of the school year, is it fair to ask students to spend their summers doing more work?

Personally, I think summer reading is a good idea. For students who aren’t self motivated readers, it helps keeps their minds active before the rigorous school year begins. Summer reading also enables teachers to start teaching immediately instead of having to wait for the students to read an entire book before they have material to teach. Rising sophomores and juniors have to read only one book, but rising freshmen have to read two books. In my opinion, every grade should only have to read one book. In the past, every grade had to read two books, but in the past couple of years, the school has changed this because they have not yet come up with a second book that people have liked. Although many students are opposed to having Talmud homework over the summer, I have found that the assignments don’t take too much time and keep our minds focused on Judaic studies while we are away from school. The tenth-grade assignment of learning Pirkei Avot is interesting because it corresponds to many everyday life issues, which is a good way to ease ourselves back into the school year. Incoming juniors are required to read two essays by Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik from his Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind. Similarly, these assignments are not too time consuming, but aim to ease students back in the mode of Jewish learning. Seniors have more homework to do in preparation for the school year. In addition to summer reading, incoming seniors have homework for each AP class they are taking the following year. Seniors must teach themselves some of the class material since there won’t be enough time during the school year to cover everything for that class. Sophia Kremer ’20 said, “I don’t mind the work because I think it is good preparation for the rigorous course load that is yet to come.” Even if some summer homework is justified, is there too much of it? According to Caitlin Levine ’21, ”No one likes to do any summer homework, but I think the amount we have is acceptable.” Having summer homework may not be ideal for everyone, but with the intensity of the work during the school year, the amount we get is really manageable and can only help ease us into the school year.