Summer is over! Back to school!
It’s September, which in America means it’s time for students to go back to school. Summer vacation is about two and a half months long for most students – three months for university students. During vacation, elementary and junior high school students play with friends or go to summer camp, high school students sometimes get part-time jobs, and university students often do internships or study abroad.
When I was in elementary school I went to a computer camp every summer, which was really fun. I learned computer programming and 3D graphic design. We also went outside to play sports for half the day, so we at least got some exercise. In middle school I spent most of my time reading and playing with my neighborhood friends. In high school I worked a couple of jobs – two years at an ice cream shop and two years at a skateboard and snowboard shop. Most of my friends had a similar experience.
Our summer reading assignment for some NEO students was to write about their opinion about summer vacation homework. I am always surprised to find out how much summer homework Japanese students have. I have even heard stories of students that had summer homework about subjects and concepts they haven’t studied yet! They have to teach themselves the new material!
In America we had summer homework, but it was usually to read one or two books out of a list that our English teacher provided. This usually led to us reading them in the final weekend of the summer. Other than that we were free to do as we wished. However, I hear that today there is more and more summer homework. Scientists and education professors are divided on the benefits of summer homework – some say that the children need the time off to relax and have a chance to be children, while others say that summer homework keeps them from forgetting the things they learned in the spring. I can’t really say for sure what the best way is.
However, my favorite summer homework assignment was shown to me by our student Takako: it is the summer homework that an Italian teacher, Cesare Cate, gave his classes this summer. I will leave it here.
1. In the morning, at times, walk along the seashore alone. Look at how the sun reflects off the water, thinking about the things you love most in life and feel happy.
2. Try using all the new words you learned this year: You can say more things, you can think more things and the more you can think, the freer you’ll feel.
3. Read, as much as possible. Not because you have to. Read because the summer inspires you adventure and dreams. Reading you’ll feel similar to birds in flight. Read because it is the best form of rebellion.
4. Avoid all things, situations and persons that make you feel negative and empty. Look for stimulating situations and of friends who appreciate and understand you for who you are.
5. If you feel sad or scared, do not worry. The summer, like all great things, puts the soul in harmony. Try keeping a diary where you can write about your feelings.
6. Dance – without feeling ashamed. On the street near your home or in your bedroom. The summer is a dance. It would be a shame not to be a part of it.
7. At least once, got see a sunrise. Stand there in silence and breathe. Close your eyes, grateful.
8. Play a lot of sports.
9. If you see a person near you in life, bestow on them your gratitude. No matter if he or she understands. If they don’t reciprocate, then he/she was not meant to be part of your destiny. Otherwise, the summer of 2015 is a great time to walk together.
10. Remember what you learned in school and refer to your notes.
11. Be happy like the sun, untamed like the sea.
12. Don’t utter curse words. Always be polite and gentle.
13. Watch movies with dialogue that is poignant, particularly in English. This will help you improve your language skills and your chance to dream. Don’t let the movie end with the credits. Live the experience all summer.
14. During the daylight or at night, dream about what your life may be like. During the summer, summon the strength not to give up and do everything you can to pursue that dream.
15. Be good.