How do summer courses affect the classroom?

Nate Jones, Opinions Editor

How many of you have seen this before?”asks a math teachers as he scratches something on the chalkboard. Most of the students raise their hands. The teacher quickly moves on, but there still remain a few students that stare blankly at the material, and are later confused when it shows up in the homework.

As I entered Honors Geometry freshman year, I was shocked at how much my fellow students already knew. I wondered how they had covered all this material, when I, who had attended exactly the same math classes, had never seen these concepts before in my life.

It was simple: most of my class had taken geometry over the summer, and this class now only consisted of simple review for them.

I see no problem with these students dedicating their summers to getting ahead. However, I found it had serious implications for me and for other students. When a large portion of the class is familiar with a formula, an equation, or a concept, the teacher sees no need to spend a sufficient amount of time on this topic. But what about the students who did not learn this over the summer, and are now not being taught the material at all? The class becomes tremendously harder for those students who have to teach themselves, because the teacher assumes all are up to speed. The homework is extremely difficult, the tests and quizzes are impossible, and ultimately one’s final grade can be unsatisfying.

PDS does not typically allow students who take summer classes like these to place out of the equivalent classes, so instead of excelling in the standard curriculum, they are succeeding by retaking the coursesat the expense of others. Again, I am not advocating that PDS forbid their students from using outside institutions. I give major credit to any student who puts in all this extra work over the summer. The imbalance in the classroom is in no way the fault of the kids; the onus must fall on the teacher. From past conversations, I know many teachers are not aware of this preparation, and, especially in honors classes, the vast knowledge of the students seems to be a given, for they are honors students.The students who are brand new to the class often find themselves in need of tutoring in order to catch up with the material that others have learned over the summer.

So does an honors class simply become a retaking” of a course? Though this problem may be most prominent in math, the same thing could occur in lots of classrooms. I do think students being able to skip classes they have already taken is an interesting debate, but I do not think this is the sole solution to this problem. The most appropriate way of tweaking this issue is simple and involves teachers being more aware. If teachers understand that only some students might have already learned the material, they are a lot less likely to skip over it. Instead of teachers quickly erasing a topic off the board, and then delivering it in the form of 10-point test question, they should go over it, regardless of the fact that some have already learned it.