Friday, October 28, 2016

Reading Week #Yay #65

Next week in the College, and in many other Colleges, is a Reading Week. There will be no classes during this week and it is a time for students to take time out from classes for revision and reading up on their subjects. It also neatly coincides with the October Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland, so in reality, it is a four-day reading week, not five.

Image source: ITB Library.
For me it is a chance to catch up on the grading of continuous assessments - I have over 150 to do every week. As I have no classes, it means no late nights and it is also an opportunity to prepare for the second half of the semester. But what about the value of a Reading Week for students?

Writing in The Telegraph (Feb 2015), the "Boarding School Beak" describes "Why university 'reading weeks' are a waste of time". The Beak tells us that "more than a few students see 'reading week' as a chance for a bit of rest and recuperation" and to catch up on sleep. The Beak also speculates that students themselves "seem to be coming out against reading weeks". Overall, the Beak thinks that "financially, pastorally and academically" that "reading weeks are a waste of time". I'm not sure I fully agree.

There is value I think in taking a break during what is a long 12 week semester (it used to be 13 weeks here in NCI). Recharging the batteries and taking a break is important. Most of our students are part-time and many of these are in employment. So a weeks "break" for someone working all day and attending courses at night would be welcome. Many also have children who are on a school break at this time. For full-time undergraduate students, I'm sure a break is also welcome.

However, calling it a "Reading Week" is a bit of a cop out - how much actual reading/study is done during this week? Anecdotally, many full-time students tell me that they see the Reading Week as a break/holiday and not a time for study. The exception here is final year students, many who do use the opportunity for course work and revision. I know that if I was a 1st-year student I'd be heading home to Wicklow with a sack of dirty laundry, and an appetite for both my Mum's good cooking and my bed. Not a chance would I spend the week "reading".

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