Four grades of Seaholm students spent the summer stressing, dreading, and agonizing over one thing: Bottlemania.
A unified, school-wide summer reading assignment, especially one based around an important issue, is a good idea in theory. It allows the whole student body to come together to get behind an issue, breaking down the rigid barriers between grades.
After all, Seaholm is a large school, and should encourage interaction among its entire student body as much as possible. Like other school-wide activities (think Field Day or Homecoming), a single summer reading assignment promotes a sense of community throughout the school.
Even before the school year began, students from all four grades were interacting on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, discussing Bottlemania.
However, the discussion was not all positive.
This is where this summer’s school-wide reading assignment falls short. While good in theory, the execution could have been improved.
Bottlemania addresses an important issue, the packaging and sale of a commodity, water, which should be available to everyone. However, the student body would have been better served by a book that addressed an issue more relevant to their everyday lives.
A better choice would have been a book that highlighted character education and encouraged the acceptance of others, something more applicable to a student’s daily experience at Seaholm.
Discussing something that affects students more directly would have engaged students more and encouraged an ownership of the issue discussed. This would also promote more thoughtful discussion among students.
Not only would students be more invested in the assignment, but discussions about character education would encourage a climate of tolerance and kindness within the school.
Another viable solution is to allow students more input on which book they will be reading, and what issue they will be dealing with. Though there was one student on the committee that selected Bottlemania, it would be more effective if a wider range of student opinions were able to be heard, through a school-wide vote.
When students feel their voices are being heard, they will be more engaged and invested in the assignment and discussion.