Constant grunting and complaints fill the atmosphere of the classroom. This inevitable phenomenon and can be witnessed especially during the two short week period from the beginning of the Thanksgiving break to the Winter Break or, as students call it, “Hell week”. The last week of school before leaving for Christmas break referred to as “Hell week” because of the endless loads of tests, quizzes, essays and assignments that stand between the students and their break.
Thanksgiving Break serves as a kind of reward for all the hard work students have done throughout the Fall term, as well as compensation for surviving the four days worth of exams on the last week of school. Students come back to campus ready to succeed in the Winter term. But several days after the refreshing break, teachers plan test and quiz dates before even allowing students to completely adjust to the rather stressful and long winter term. The faculty members, after all, are responsible for advancing the academic understanding of young scholars and they are perhaps most aware of the ingredients necessary to facilitate such a process. However, what holds so much controversy on the subject of cramming before Christmas Breaks is that even the teachers themselves are quite hesitant about assigning tests on materials they haven’t really covered in depth. We all understand that teachers have the responsibility to hand in grades at the end of the term, but this is only the first week of a fresh and new term! Besides, the main priority of a well-established institution like Loomis Chaffee should be to ensure a productive learning experience and to nurture the intellectual and social development of all students during their formative years at Loomis Chaffee. Widely honored and successful schools like Loomis Chaffee should not pressure the teachers to briefly just skim over the materials and force the students to digest them within a week for the sake of publishing grades.
Loomis Chaffee is a school with students representing 26 U.S. States and 40 different countries. There’s no doubt that most students have a difficult time immediately adjusting to the bustling school life right after a relaxing break. Not only do the international students frequently suffer from jet lag, but they also experience homesickness, especially after staying with their own family for a week. Several factors combine to prevent students from demonstrating their best abilities in academics. Nevertheless, these students are hit with overwhelming amounts of tests and assignments even before adjusting to the environment, and are still expected to exhibit equal excellence.
This article is not advocating the removal of exams or tests in any way. In fact, the exams are mutually beneficial and necessary for measuring ability or determining one’s progress over the course of the year. Exams also serve as a benchmark for teachers to reflect on their teaching styles. However, the limited time period between the breaks should not serve as any sort of obligation for teachers to devise shallow materials into tests in the interest of reporting grades. Additionally, as a school with students from diverse backgrounds, we should advocate the necessity for the school to recognize that time is needed for everyone to accustom themselves back to school. German physicist, Albert Einstein once claimed, ““The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think”. It is perhaps more worthwhile for students to digest the materials effectively with a teacher who will seek to make the learning more reflective and a rewarding, rather than forcing a coerced and time-constrained learning experience.