Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Output and the Twelve-Year-Old Boy

I've been having a lot of discussions lately about output--essays, worksheets, projects, book reports--those pieces of paper that "prove" your child has learned something. My boys are allergic to output. I'm not entirely sure whether it's an age-thing or if it's a hold-over from public school busywork. I suspect it's a little bit of both.

Xavier is much worse than Wolfie is at this. We do most of his math and vocab work orally because he doesn't want to have to write out the problems (or do workbook pages in the case of vocab). It's fine with me, for the most part, because as a sixth-grader, he's still considered to be in elementary school by the online schools that we work with. He doesn't have a lot of output to produce. Seventh grade, which he is almost ready for, is going to be another matter entirely.

Wolfie, on the other hand, is taking high-school-level classes that are supposed to be pitched for middle schoolers. His EPGY course is excellent--dealing with the tough intellectual issues of literary analysis with output requirements more appropriate for 7th graders. For example, he's asked to write a four page paper that could easily become 8-10 pages in a high school class.

Some of his other classes seem to be even harder than the equivalent high school class would be. His biology book is thicker than the one Klaus used last year for a similar class. The reading assignments are huge. It's not that he can't understand the material, he just doesn't read fast enough to be able to keep up a good pace. I'm sure his algebra class is covering more information more quickly than a 9th grade algebra class would do.

Part of this is just Wolfie's nature. He's slow-moving, always has been. When he was two, he spoke so slowly he had to take a breath in the middle of pronouncing his name. His name has one syllable. I kid you not. When we talked about being able to go at his own pace in virtual school, he thought we meant he could take as much time as he wanted. And he can, if he doesn't mind working through the summer, but somehow I don't think he's going to be down with that.

I've very proud of him for stubbornly sticking with classes that challenge him intellectually even if the workload is tough. As I said, he can understand the material. And he's getting faster (and certainly more independent) about writing essays because of EPGY. But I as parent and teacher would sure like to have some papers to show that he and Xavier are "making progress." And I sure wish I knew if I was requiring too much or not enough.


Zany Mom said...

You know *my* take on this subject.

My advice? Expensive chocolate, a glass of wine, put your feet up, and relax!!


My kids have plenty of output. It's just not in a form that any teacher would recognize as valid. But it's learning. All learning! That's what's so cool.

And Captain Underpants is far more fun reading material than anything I read in school in 3rd grade...

The Princess Mom said...

Well, yes, I was going to say something like "no comments from the zany peanut gallery" but I thought that might be a bit off-putting. Then again, since you're my only reader, maybe not. LOL

The Princess Mom said...

Not to mention the fact that expensive wine and chocolate would give me a killer migraine. You trying to kill me?

Zany Mom said...

Oh, sorry, didn't realize that was migraine material.

Mine is bright lights. Every day I have a hot poker in my right eye. I hate that!

Deschool, thyself, woman!! Come on over to the dark side....hehehe