Language | MORNING ENGLISH

Let's discuss summer homework

by Kaori Shoji

This week’s featured article

KAORI SHOJI, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The school summer holidays are now in full swing but an increasing number of parents and their children are spending the break hunched over a desk with a stack of workbooks instead of enjoying ice cream in the park.

The traditional rite of summer homework has been squeezing the joy out of vacations since the modernization of Japan’s school system in the late-19th century.

For generations of children, summer homework has cast a long, dark shadow over what would otherwise be a time to relax and have fun as the mercury hits annual highs.

By extension, this time of recreation should apply to parents as well, since children rely on adults to take them to whatever venues they need to go to enjoy their time in the sun.

The deadline for completing summer homework is Sept. 1, the day children return to the classroom. Aug. 31, therefore, is traditionally a day fraught with anxiety, as entire families struggle to complete the exercises that have been assigned by teachers.

In spite of the hardship, most parents with children under 12 years old continue to support the assignment of summer homework, according to a report on fnn.jp.

Over the years, a number of schools have tried to introduce an element of fun into the homework they issue during summer each year. Methods have varied from institution to institution, but the Asahi Shimbun reports that some schools have gone overboard by mandating book reports and “daily exercise diaries” on top of everything else.

The average Japanese person spends 12 summers out of their young lives worrying about homework. Thankfully, there’s no homework at college level, but once those precious years are over and graduates enter the workforce, the whole concept of taking several weeks over summer has long become a distant memory.

The next thing you know, ordinary folks in the workforce can only remember summer homework with a certain nostalgia, longing for kids of their own so that they might be able to pass on such memories to their own children. And, thus, the cycle of life continues.

First published in The Japan Times on Aug. 17.

Warm up

One minute chat about summer memories

Game

Collect words related to school: e.g. study, teacher, test

New words

1) hunch: to bend forward, e.g., “He hunched over his dinner.”

2) rite: a customary ceremony, e.g., “We watched a Buddhist rite.”

3) mandate: to order, e.g., “We don’t mandate attending the event.”

Guess the headline

Excessive h _ _ _ _ _ _ _ may be exhausting students in Japan during their summer v _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Questions

1) How do parents view summer homework?

2) What are examples of summer homework?

3) Do you think the author supports summer homework or questions it?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Share your summer homework memories.

2) Do you feel summer homework is needed?

3) What do children need for their vacation?

Reference

夏休みが始まるときには、今年こそ早めに宿題を終わらせて心置きなく残りの休みを満喫しようと思うのに、気が付くとその年も最後の数日でやっつけ仕事のように宿題をこなす。そんな苦い思い出があるかたは多いことでしょう。長い休みの間でも勉強の習慣がつくようにという意図で課されるはずの夏休みの宿題ですが、現実は計画性をもって日々宿題に取り組める子どもは多くありません。こうした宿題の形が受け継がれているなか、宿題自体への賛否も議論されるようになっているようです。新しい時代の夏休みにふさわしい宿題のありかたはどのようなものなのか、朝英語の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

「朝英語の会」、はじめてみませんか?

「朝英語の会」とは、お友達や会社の仲間とThe Japan Timesの記事を活用しながら、楽しく英語が学べる朝活イベントです。この記事を教材に、お友達や会社の仲間を集めて、「朝英語の会」を立ち上げませんか? 朝から英字新聞で英語学習をする事で、英語を話す習慣が身に付き、自然とニュースの教養が身につきます。
「朝英語の会」の立ち上げ、もしくは参加に興味がある方はこちらまで。
株式会社ジャパンタイムズ「 朝英語の会」運営事務局
Phone: 03-3453-2337 (平日10:00 – 18:00)
email: info@club.japantimes.co.jp | http://jtimes.jp/asaeigo

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5