Spring Break!

It’s that time of the semester–the time when students go partying, vacationing, relaxing…at least I hear that’s what they do.  I’ve never had the traditional spring break trip to Florida, Padre Island, etc.; when I was an undergraduate, it was the time to catch up on reading (and to eat Mom’s cooking instead of dorm food).  At Penn State, it was time to start working on the research paper due the next term, as we were on the quarter system–try to write a “publishable” research paper in 10 weeks without getting a head start during spring break.  When I was working on my doctorate at the University of Houston, it was the time to work (it was also opening weekend at Six Flags Houston, where I worked in the Finance Department), as well as a time to catch up on homework/research papers.

And now that I’m a college professor–it’s a time to catch up.  This coming week will involve gathering information for program review (yippee–assessment!), but there will also be a bit of pleasure.  Depending upon the weather (always an important consideration in Pennsylvania this time of year), it will include a short excursion later next week to the land of pretzels and outlets…a trip to Reading to restock on food, clothes (for my mother), and, of course, a visit to the Historical Society of Berks County for research (time permitting).    In the meantime, it’s a time to recharge the batteries, so to speak–as if the four snow days this semester haven’t provided me with enough time off already.

So–the question is…is spring break really necessary?  Certainly my colleagues who are spending spring break in England think so…and, in my case, I think this year I will, too.  I will try make sure that it will include some play and not all work.  Any suggestions?


About Karen

History Professor. Baseball fan. Author of two books, one of which I force my students to buy and read. You want me on your Trivial Pursuit team.
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8 Responses to Spring Break!

  1. Liane Walta says:

    Hi I think the word “break” whether Spring, Summer etc. means to break with daily routine,and your break sounds like work!Ithink students these days literally “break ” out of their routine and relax or work as I know some do to be able to finance themselves.
    The students I know still go home to enjoy mom´s cooking and catch up with family and friends and just relax a week.
    However if your position I know it´s not unusual to catch up with things and I can even see that youn find relaxation in doing these things.
    While doing all this , how about a “Spring” makeover,like a facial, makes one feel like new, a massage (NOT that kind LOL!) taking time to watch a sunset, read a good book or just veg around in your PJ,s all day if you don´t need to go out.Sound sill some of my suggestions, but they work. L.

  2. Karen says:

    I must admit, me having a facial certainly would be something different, especially since I do not wear makeup. And I will get a bit of a break from the routine, since Tuesday I get to take my car to the dealer for the lube, oil and filter change, tire rotation, and recall notice resolution. One day next week I will be getting together with my student teachers (most of whom won’t be getting a spring break, because those days have been removed to make up for snow days) as they transition from their first placements to the second ones.

    The idea of just vegging out one day is a great idea, but I know that my mother would see me lounging around and find something for me to do. And I must admit the idea that I don’t have to be somewhere by a specific time (except on Tuesday) is quite appealing right now. Plus, reading a book for pleasure…I really can’t remember the last time I did that.

  3. Beverly Tomek says:

    I do like you, Karen, and use the week to catch up. This year I will also use part of the week for the OAH meeting.

    But I find your question intriguing — do we really need Spring Break?

    In all honesty, I think it interrupts the flow of the semester and gives students plenty of time to forget some of the material they learned earlier in the semester. This doesn’t bode well for comprehensive final exams. The week off could give them time to catch up on research papers, but let’s face it, the average student probably will still put his or her research paper off until he or she gets back any way. I think, then, that I’ve concluded we don’t need it.

    How about getting out of school for summer a week earlier instead? That way the students who are taking summer courses get a little extra break between Spring finals and Summer I. And we would all still get the week off; it would just be at a time that didn’t break the flow of spring school work.

    What do you think?

    • Karen says:

      I know some of my students are using this week to work on their research papers–at least they should be, since the rough draft is due on the 23rd (and if they don’t turn in a rough draft, they fail the course). But yeah–reading the Facebook posts about where they are spending spring break, posting photos of their activity, etc.–reminds me of how boring my life was when I was in college (and still is, in some ways).

      We actually have finals during the first week of May, and summer classes don’t start until the May 23–so we do have plenty of time for a break between spring and summer sessions. Next year we’re going to have a 3-week Winter Session, so Spring classes won’t start until the last week of January, and we’ll go until the 2nd week of May; the summer sessions will be reduced from 6 weeks to 5 so they don’t go too late into August. Because of snow days, one of my colleagues postponed the midterm exam until next Monday, so hopefully his students will be doing a little studying during break.

      I think I would have a different attitude about it if we hadn’t already had four days off for snow. Perhaps we should think about doing what the public schools do, and make up the days during spring break. Of course, then people who already have made travel plans would have a problem…and, if spring break had come a week later (or the OAH a week earlier), I would have been one of those folks traveling, too.

  4. Beverly Tomek says:

    You guys have a much better overall schedule than we do. When I teach Summer I I think I get 1, maybe 2, weeks off in the middle.

    I wish the OAH had been scheduled to where you could come down. It would be nice to visit.

    • Karen says:

      It’s actually the first year it’s been like this. Some years, we only have one week between the end of spring semester and the beginning of summer school–with dismissal boards during the first week of summer classes. This year–it will be two weeks between the end of summer school and the beginning of fall semester.

      You’ll just have to come to the PHA in Johnstown this year. I’ll be the one hanging out at the PHA sales table, waiting for people to buy books (and occasionally escaping to take photos for the FB page and the website).

  5. jeannie says:

    I don’t know how I missed seeing this post earlier. Now your spring break is over and mine is just beginning. I know my kids at BYU don’t get a Spring Break. Their winter semester ends about the 22nd of April. That makes me jealous, but then they are jealous when I’m out on spring break. I have never understood where students have the time to go party and travel during this week. Especially this year, our teachers loaded us up with work, including a take home exam. I’ll be lucky to even get it all done. But at least during this week they can’t add to our load. That’s at least good news.

    • Karen says:

      We returned today–and, of course, students asked for extensions on their paper drafts that are due next Wednesday (23rd). They were not happy when I told them they had the entire week to work on their papers without being bothered by going to class.

      Our spring semester ends during the first week of May. I suspect BYU probably goes back earlier than we do, so they would finish a couple of weeks earlier if they don’t have a break. This semester, we’ve had enough breaks with the four snow days, so I wouldn’t have minded making up the classes during spring break. Of course, I also didn’t have any travel plans that would have been messed up if we did have to make up the snow days.

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