The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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The paradox of school breaks

During my 9 a.m. class prior to Thanksgiving break, my professor asked an interesting question: Should professors be able to assign work that is due the day students get back from Thanksgiving break? This had been a long-standing debate between students and teachers back when I was in high school, and the perspectives from both sides had always seemed to adhere to the following arguments:

Students:

  • A break is a break. Why should we have to think about schoolwork when we should be able to rest and do things we don’t usually get to do during the semester? 
  • Having work due the day before break is generally preferable as the burden of thinking about assignments is eliminated. As a result, we can fully enjoy our break. 
  • Being expected to do work over the break will only end up producing a below-average result. 

Teachers:

  • Students will have qualms if the assignment is due before break, typically citing that assignments being crammed before break can result in feelings of stress and being overwhelmed. 
  • Students have a choice to put their best foot forward in the effort they put in their work. 
  • Teachers want the freedom to be able to assign work when they please and do not want their ‘academic freedom’ to be infringed upon.  

As a student, I am inclined to take the former side because the semester is a continuous grind of homework and studying, as we consequently adopt a mindset of trying to “get through to the next week.” With multiple obligations, being able to do things we like to do for fun is very limited. It is not only the amount of work that professors assign after the break; it is also simply the thought of having to get multiple tasks done that can hinder students from fully enjoying their well-deserved time off. Furthermore, some professors tend to think of a break as a reading period. In other words, some can see it as more time for students to be doing work, which is exactly the opposite of what a break is supposed to be. It has the same underlying tones as telling someone they don’t have to be on time, but to be there by 8 a.m. sharp—a clear contradiction. Should the professors’ inability to assign work on a couple of days during the semester truly impact the curriculum, given that all other classes are on track? While this debate may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, there’s a discrepancy between the school’s emphasis on mental health and wellness and the practice of assigning significant assignments due right after breaks. 

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Regardless, it is fair to acknowledge that the end of the semester tends to be stressful and packed with tasks. The key is to navigate it day by day until finally experiencing the exhilarating feeling of freedom after that last final!

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