Winter break is called a break for a reason

Photo+illustration+by+SHAI+NIELSON

Photo illustration by SHAI NIELSON

Photo illustration by SHAI NIELSON

“Don’t forget to pick up your homework packet for over break before you leave. Happy Holidays, guys!” Just about everybody’s favorite words as they walk out of each class the last day of the semester. Not.

Winter break is composed of two words, neither of which include any hint of homework, packets, textbook readings, online quizzes or anything school related, for that matter.

It’s called a break for a reason.

It’s supposed to be a break from math and science and English and Spanish and history and school. Instead, teachers have decided that it’s perfect extra time to give more homework than usual because there are two whole weeks for it to be done. They have concluded that the school year is not long enough and that winter break was created so students could “jump start” second semester and teach themselves the next unit at home or get additional practice on the concepts they’ve been working on all of first semester.

Did Merriam Webster change the definition of break and our language arts teacher neglected to teach us this new definition?

As far as I’m concerned, break means catching up on sleep and recordings of “Modern Family” and “Hawaii Five-O,” hanging out with friends, going out of town to see family and relaxing with my cat Oreo while doing absolutely nothing all day since every other day during school I am doing everything imaginable.

Break is a time where I can forget about essays and tests. As an AP and honors student, all I ever do is study or do homework; I never get a break from school work or worries. Even summer vacation is intruded by summer reading and work.

Winter break is when I go out to visit relatives in other states or, like this year, when my family stays at my house. My dad told me a few days ago that my brother is surprising us and will be home for Christmas week and all I could think of was, “Crap, I either have to do all my homework Saturday before he arrives or wait until after he leaves. And that’s when I’ll want to hang out with my friends and relax before school starts again. Ugh.”

Why should that be my first thought when I hear that amazing news instead of jumping up with joy that I get to see my brother? Oh yeah, because my teachers decided to give me homework. Over break. When I am supposed to be taking a few days to forget about school for once.

A lot of people I know go out of the state or even out of the country for the whole two weeks of break and are forced to do homework on the plane or lock themselves in the guest room at Grandma’s house to get their work done without distractions.

How is that fair?

Besides, whether you do the work the first day of break, while half asleep on a plane or at 11 the night before school starts, are you really grasping what you’re supposed to be learning or reviewing? Probably not.

I do the assignments over break as quickly as possible just to get the points and get them over with. The teacher usually goes over the work the week back anyways and if it’s a new topic, they’ll end up reteaching it for the people who didn’t do it and for those who have no idea what they did.

So if it’s so meaningless, what’s the point?

I know not all students work their tail off throughout the school year, but the ones who do are usually the ones in AP and honors classes – the classes that assign extra work over break. It’s like the teachers are punishing us for working hard during the semester by never letting us stop and just breathe.

“Work over break is what you over-achievers get for taking hard classes,” says all the kids who don’t have work over break as they laugh.

Sorry that I’m doing everything I can to get into a good college because I have dreams I want to achieve. And that’s not even the point. It’s not that we are hard workers so we should be able to handle extra work and are just complaining to complain. It’s that teachers have wrongfully decided that break is just more time to do more work.

The reason school takes weeks off isn’t just for holidays (they could just take those days off if they wanted), it’s because we work for months straight, and it’s not healthy.

We have break because even though we are kids with energy and (supposedly) time, we can’t keep going all the time without a few days to relax, breathe and rejuvenate. Without a time off we’d run ourselves ragged.

My break deserves to be less consumed with balancing my time to do that science packet or read that book and more consumed with balancing time to see all my family and friends.

Winter break is supposed to be a break. If it wasn’t, it would be called “winter extra time to do more homework and feel like I’m at school without actually having to be at school for seven hours every day.”

 

 

by SHAI NIELSON