The Fall Term Reading Week

Argh! I'm up to my neck in a major consulting project, and the deadline is stomping toward me like a rancorous rancor. I appreciate having a couple of days--Fall Term class break and Remembrance Day--to devote to this project, but what if we got a whole week off? The Fall Term reading week idea received 55% approval in a plebiscite in March, 2011. But just because students are in favour of something, doesn't mean admin is going to pay any attention to it. (Lower tuition fees, anyone?) So it's a bit amazing that the fall reading week proposal is actively being considered by UofA administration, a subject of some discussion on the Whither the U of A? blog. There are four possibilities under consideration:

1. Classes start a week earlier, keeping the same number of instructional days. For example, classes would have started August 31 instead of September 7 this year.
: This is a bad idea. Classes would start before the Labour Day long weekend, disrupting many vacation plans. And students who rent apartments would have to pay rent for the whole month of August--or just miss the first day of class. (Guess which one students would pick.)

2. Start classes a day earlier, there would be one fewer day between the last day of classes and start of the exam period (so-called "study break"), and instructional days would be decreased by one.
Evaluation: This is better--less disruption of summer. But I think students wouldn't like one fewer day to prep for finals, and I wouldn't like losing one class in Fall Term.

3. Like option #2, classes would start one day earlier, but there would be no reduction in study break days; instead two instructional days would be lost.
Evaluation: I would not like to lose a classe. Either I'd have to talk faster, or cut out some content. But what to cut? It's all important; otherwise it wouldn't be in the course. Also, if I teach the same course in both Fall and Winter terms, due to the different number of instructional hours, I'd have to have two different sets of lectures and two different sets of exams. Confusing much?

4. Start classes on the same day as always, and just cut out three instructional days.
: WTF? Why is this even on the table? Having a break is not a good tradeoff for losing that much in-class time. Bad, bad, bad.
Interestingly, even the Edmonton Public School Board is considering a week-long fall break. This is an intriguing possibility, as I have two kids and don't like to pull them out of school just to go on a vacation. So if the UofA has a week-long break at the same time that my kids are out of school, we could go on a guilt-free family holiday that is not during the most expensive time of year (e.g., Christmas, summer), for once. But if the two fall breaks are at different times, or if the EPSB decides to implement a break and the UofA doesn't (or vice-versa), that would suck.

Which of the four options do you prefer?

Why aren't you studying?


Anastasia said...

Option 2, I guess. Maybe they can take off a day in the winter term too then, to make both terms equal.

Karsten A. Loepelmann said...

@Anastasia: OK--wait, what? No more days off!

LisaBee said...

Hmm, seeing all that presented it seems like the second option would probably be the best.
I know it would mean one less full day of preparation for finals, but that would just reinforce the importance of keeping up with studying all the way through the term, right? (No? Just me, then?)

Karsten A. Loepelmann said...

@LisaBee: When I was a student, although having a few days to prepare was nice, I was also itching to write my finals. Didn't want all of that knowledge leaking out...

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