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Summer Slide: End of Vacation Ride

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June 6, 2018

Summer Slide: End of Vacation Ride

Curriculum, activities and rules they abide Thus the year from beginning to end glides Come May and the vacation is very wide Transforming ‘Studious Student’ to a ‘Summer Slide’

The term ‘Summer Slide’ is used for a phenomenon that occurs with learners when their teaching learning process stops for a long time i.e during vacation which is usually spanning a few weeks. It has been found that learners have a tendency to forget the content, skills learnt by them in the school when they go for vacation. This phenomenon of forgetting academic skills and knowledge during long breaks is called ‘Summer Slide’. In this article this phenomenon will be discussed in the context of our system of education.

In India, summer vacation is of very long duration compared to other breaks. In fact this phenomenon occurs with quite a few learners and so it cannot be termed as a weakness or disease or syndrome. It is a natural phenomenon that human beings tend to forget persons if he/she is not in contact with the person for a long time. Similarly if a person keeps away from the learning material for a long time, the learner has a tendency to forget the content. Findings from some researches done on this subject show –

1. If a test is administered to the learners, their achievement scores decline after the summer break.

2. More decline in the result of tests conducted after summer break is found in subjects of Mathematics, language and reading.

3. This phenomenon occurs more in learners of higher classes compared to those of lower classes.

This tendency to forget the content adversely affects the growth and development of the learner. The learner finds it difficult to update and upgrade himself. In the event of forgetting the content due to ‘Summer Slide’ the learners face several challenges some of which are as –

1. It weakens the base of the subject studied by the learner.

2. It creates a hurdle for the learner to understand new concepts taught in a later phase.

3. The fundamentals of the subject where ‘Summer Slide’ occurs remain poor, resulting in difficulty during advance studies.

4. In the course of time these learners may get labeled as ‘slow learners’.

5. Since the weakness accumulates, the learner tends to lose confidence in coping with the loss.

6. Eventually it may lead to serious consequences like ruining one’s life either by remaining illiterate or ending one’s life.

According to Newton’s Law, every action has a reaction. Hence there are certain factors responsible for this phenomenon of ‘Summer Slide’ to occur in the life of a learner.

1. Family income plays a vital role in this phenomenon. Learners from low income groups are susceptible to this phenomenon because their parents cannot afford to facilitate learning during vacation.

2. Learners from ethnic minorities too tend to face same situation for they may not be able to get suitable content to keep themselves occupied during the vacation.

3. Exceptional learners with certain disabilities i.e physically challenged learners may not be able to make the most of vacation due to their limitations.

4. Usually this phenomenon is found in learners of higher classes because of the casual approach of the learners towards teaching learning sessions.

5. In urban areas the parents may not get time to monitor the activities of the children and so they while away their time in useless activities. This brings all intellectual activities to a grinding halt.

6. The mind-set of the learners too plays an important role. They are of a firm opinion that vacation means ‘no study’. This leads them towards ‘Summer Slide’.

7. During the vacation the teachers don’t keep the learners engaged in some educational activities.

8. Electronic media too is responsible for this phenomenon. Learners are glued to electronic gadgets during the vacation leaving no scope for learning activities.

‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ is an age old saying. In this context, if there are problems there are remedies too. Proper remedies need to be found and implemented. The implementation needs to be meticulous for it should not lead us away from the objective of doing away with ‘Summer Slide’.

1. The learners can be given reading material according to their subject of interest and age group. This will have a two pronged effect – one is that learners will cultivate a liking for reading and secondly it will help to improve their imagination and thinking.

2. A field trip can be arranged for the learners with specific learning objectives. The learners can be asked to click pictures with their cameras, later they can either prepare a scrap book or a power-point presentation. This will uphold the interest of the learners in the activity.

3. The learners can be encouraged to read a newspaper in any language they feel comfortable to comprehend. The learners can be given certain objectives viz

  • learning a new word each day and improving one’s vocabulary.
  • preparing a scrap book on any current topic
  • preparing a collage of articles on a particular topic

4. Encourage the learners to take up part time jobs. The objective here, is not to earn money but to interact with people of different temperaments in different situations. This will help the learner to develop patience, increase endurance limits, and fortitude necessary in later life.

5. Learners can be given unusual tasks to be completed with certain incentives. The objective is to bring the learners out of their comfort zone and make them think for an out of the box solution to a situation.

The conclusion is that if these remedies are implemented with precision, the phenomenon of ‘Summer Slide’ can be avoided. Though there is no permanent solution to this phenomenon, the intensity of the phenomenon can be reduced and it needs to be done in the interest of the learners.

Ajit P Thosar teaches English at St Joseph ET High School, Bilimora, Gujarat. He has been working as key resource person (KRP) in several workshops on different subjects arranged by different government agencies. He is a writer, reviewer and translator of several projects by Gujarat State School Textbook Board and a member of ELTAI and IATFL. He was awarded Best Teacher Award 2010 by Knowledge Olympiad Society, Hyderabad.

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