Pre-course Work Should Be Eliminated

School has finally ended, and you are excited to spend summer break doing absolutely nothing school-related. But wait! You have just received an email from next year’s AP English teacher saying that you must read three books, write 10 page essays on each book, and be ready for a test on the first day of school. Not to mention, each of these books is unvaried, monotonous, and repetitive. Lucky for you, our school district has eliminated this barbarity, and I completely agree with this decision for multiple reasons.

The breaks during which teachers assign pre-course work are meant to be breaks, especially during summer break. Summer break is meant for quality family time and personal endeavors. In a survey done by the George Lucas Education Foundation, an overwhelming amount of the survey participants felt that pre course work should be eradicated. You may think that the participants of this survey are all just indolent teens, but the comments section proved otherwise. Many of the participants were actually parents who wanted to spend time with their children. These parents say that they do not have enough time for family vacations, their children do not go outside as much, and their children do not have time for their jobs (in the summer).

I like to use my winter and summer break to pursue my own interests and to decompress. For example, every summer I spend 2-3 weeks volunteering at Elmbrook Church in a summer camp. Students are going to wait until the last 2 days of break to work on the work so it will just cause more stress. Breaks are also the time to relax, to rejuvenate, and to get excited to go back to school. Pre-course work does not help inspire anyone to go back to school.

Popular pre-course work assignments include reading a novel. Students will lose interest in reading if they are being forced to read something. Also, these novels are already quite banal to a teen, but are still overanalyzed to the point where the student is not even sinking into the experience of reading the novel.

Advocates of pre-course work say that it plays a “warm-up” role for the actual class. At Walter Johnson High School in Montgomery County, teachers gave students optional summer mathematics packets, but they have since disappeared because teachers did not see a variance in the students who actually did them and the students who did not.

For these reasons, the Elmbrook School District has made a high-minded choice by eliminating AP and honors pre-course work.