By Aiden Wacksman
In order to respect those who observe religious holidays, Oak Hall has established “No Homework Nights” and “No Test Days” for all divisions to adhere to, in order to make it easier for students, parents, and faculty to enjoy these holidays. While administrators explain these days are the best compromise for the community, some teachers believe this schedule makes it more difficult to fit in academic coursework. Some teachers understand, however, that no homework/test days are necessary, but hold that there could be solutions that provide students more time to learn class content without having to worry about missing instructional time.
“The no test day/no homework night system is the best compromise for everyone in the Oak Hall community,” said Upper School head John Perlette. He explained that this system is great for students who need to “attend religious and/or cultural activities” without missing school. The feedback from parents about this schedule has been positive, as it provides time for teachers and students to celebrate their faiths and beliefs. “It’s important to be receptive to cultural and religious ideas within our community,” Perlette noted.
Michelle Mills, Lower School Head, explained that students can get a respite from homework and tests while honoring other cultures. “Recognizing the celebrations and holidays of other cultures in our school helps us to explore and honor the differences of others in our school family,” she stated. Mills explained that the parents in the lower school also had positive reactions to the no homework/test day schedule. “The traditions and heritage that our students bring with them contribute to the unique atmosphere of our classrooms,” she added.
Upcoming “No Homework Nights”:
October: 25, 31
Upcoming “No Test Days”:
Middle School teacher Blair Fils concluded that although these days can be inconvenient, they are necessary. “It’s important that our school lives our mission, especially because our mission states that we are ‘a welcoming and diverse learning environment’,” Fils stated. She added that these days can benefit students as they provide a hiatus in their schedule. “Students are spread so thinly, and I think there is value in just being a kid and having a night or two off from responsibilities,” she said.
“I feel that the no homework and test day schedules are an essential part of the diverse and welcoming community we strive to build at Oak Hall,” explained fourth grade science teacher Jackson Rogers. He believes these days provide students more time to celebrate holidays with their families. “That, to me, is more important than any test or homework assignment,” he said.
“Overall, I think [the no homework/test schedule] is a good idea and any complications can be addressed without too much trouble,” said Andy Westfall, Upper School English Teacher. He continued by explaining that there are some drawbacks to the schedule, as it can be difficult for him when block days simultaneously occur with no homework nights/test days. “Sometimes this schedule prevents me from being able to give an assessment due to a no test day falling on the sole testing day assigned for my department,” he mentioned. Westfall feels that occasionally, a no homework/test day is held when it isn’t necessary (for example, Oct. 31), and that these days should be limited to religious and cultural holidays. “I’ll take the good with the bad,” he stated.
Upper School math teacher Jim Margerum explained how no homework/test days force him to “cram in” homework and tests. “It’s a little frustrating, but I wouldn’t say it makes things harder for me,” he said.
Upper School chemistry teacher Dr. Sharon Karackattu articulated that it’s “important to respect religious observances and have no homework days,” but it can take a toll on “academic momentum”. Karackattu prefers to give her students small assessments over short stretches of time, so if students don’t perform as well as they should on one assessment, they have a chance to improve their grade on the next. “The no homework/test day schedule makes it harder for me when I have to wait a long period of time in between assessments,” she explained. On the bright side, Karackattu suggests that one solution to make no homework/test days easier for teachers is to not have a block schedule during that week. This could give teachers more of an opportunity to “have the adequate time to learn and practice the material”.