Seeing how Reading Week is about to end, and I have just returned to a massive pile of readings and assignments that I have unfortunately allowed to build up, I thought it would be a good moment to look at assigning readings over the break and the associated efficacy. Seeing how I am fairly fresh out of undergrad, I can attest that these habits were very much embedded in my early academic career.
I like to think of myself as someone with a decent amount of self-motivation, self-control, and organization; I keep calendars with everything carefully planned out, keep extensive checklists for everything I need to do in a day, and take great satisfaction in planning out everything in advance. I try to start on my work early, and plan out long term projects so I only have to panic a little when the deadline is approaching. However, I am also someone who has taken on an extremely heavy workload and have to prioritize my work. What that means is: I do things as they come up, sometimes doing my readings literally the night before, and my short term memory is forced to do the work while my long term memory is still processing the information from days before. Because comprehension and retention are very different things, sometimes I find myself slipping into the amnesia-fantasia-inertia loopholes.
We tend to expect a lot from our breaks: we want to get caught up, get ahead, get rest, and to do fun and exciting things. What ends up happening for me is a weeklong break followed by a hard reset back into the rapid gears of returning for work. And while this may not be the most effective, I can’t help but to also remember the times in undergrad when I did my readings beforehand, only to lose the details to the ether once reading week is over. Instead, I try to use the beginning of reading week (between my 18 hours of daily hibernation) to review, trying to combat the amnesia-fantasia-inertia I may have accumulated through the beginning of the semester.
Which brings me back to the question of readings over reading week. After this week’s chapter on feedback and practice, I wonder if we need to view Reading Week as a misnomer. Considering how it is placed at the middle of the semester, when students should be looking back at the work they have already completed and the work they are going to be completing. Perhaps, instead of looking it as a reading week when students are meant to be reading (either materials for the future or the materials they have been slacking on before), perhaps it would be more effective to relabel is as a review week or a response week and to move it away from the passive reading and into an active review /response activity. If the middle is where most people feel like they have reached a plateau, it is also a good time to encourage metacognitive analysis and to refine goals.
See you on Friday.