Monday 21 April 2014

A Strange End to the Semester – is it time to fix the Easter break?

Easter is so very late this year that it’s had an interesting effect. Normally the first assignment comes in just before Easter and we tend to be bogged down by marking over the Easter break. This time, we’ve had to process marking whilst still teaching. In most cases, this has meant that work has been returned to students before they’ve had to start their second assignments. That is an advantage. So, it seems there are advantages and disadvantages all round.

Late Easter advantages

No marking over the break.
First assignments can be returned long before second ones are due.
Three handy weeks after teaching has finished in which students can complete course work.
No more classes after the break – this can favour international students.
A good amount of time for revision for exams.


Late Easter disadvantages

A long slog for both students and staff.
First assignments have to be submitted and marked while classes are still going on.  
Staff are often not available during some or all of the Easter break.    
No “reading week” – the Easter break often serves the same purpose as this week that we offer in Semester 1.

On balance, then, it looks as if there are more advantages than disadvantages of having Easter later but in fact some of the disadvantages are pretty serious: the 11 weeks without a break and the lack of reading time mid-term are very significant.  

Fixing Easter

Would it make sense to fix the break? Or maybe have the two bank holidays with extra classes held at other times to make up for those missed on Good Friday and Easter Monday.  Can we not fix Easter anyway? It’s a little crazy the way it floats around. We fixed the “Spring” bank holiday that used to be Whitsun, and this year it comes very soon after the Easter weekend.


A word of caution – remember the schools  

Some schools went for more evenly spaced terms. It all looked good on paper and seemed very logical. However, some schools did and some didn’t and this really divided families. Siblings at different schools often had radically different holidays – let alone parents who happened to be teachers. Many valued the long summer.

But what about the world of work?

Yes, the world of work is different. Most people work for about 45 weeks a year. Studying doesn’t work quite the same way as other forms of work. Time is needed for consolidation on the one hand. On the other, it is often a type of 24/7 work.

What we like about the Easter break

  • The summer semester approaches. Semester 3 is a little different. We’re working mainly with research students, usually taking our own main holidays and getting some research done.    
  • It’s easier to travel and get research completed
  • A feeling of holiday
  • Time for family and friends
  • Time for our own study.
Can we preserve all of that?  

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