How Do We Know What They Know?
- Thursday, October 23, 2008
Instead of undergoing testing, students can display their growing knowledge and understanding through a variety of excellent natural methods. For example:
• Creative writing
• Personal essays
• Drama productions
• Academic contests
• Debate (formal/informal)
• Science experiments
• Hands-on projects/exhibits
These are just some of the ways homeschooled students can demonstrate their progress. While you might agree that these types of evaluative tools are great for the elementary level, you also might wonder whether such “subjective” methods can be enough for high school students. Yet teens not only continue to learn apart from the rigors of periodic testing, they actually flourish. Without the restrictive parameters of constant testing, our teens can answer the call to dig deeper than the surface, to question the status quo, to develop ideas and dreams of their own.
We must remember that much of the grading done in traditional schools is itself quite subjective. “Subjective” does not equal “inferior” in any way. Most school teachers will admit that subjective grading is usually much more accurate in its estimate of a student’s true understanding of the material studied than any given test score. Consider which of the following assignments would more clearly reveal a student’s knowledge and insight into the various causes of the War Between the States: a 50-question fill-in-the-blank test or a creative writing project (a play, a short story, or a series of journal entries) in which the student must show both sides of the war sympathetically and realistically?
Obviously, the latter choice would provoke deeper research and analysis than merely studying for a test. Imagine also the sense of real accomplishment the students would feel after completing such a challenging project. It is often this kind of in-depth study that leads young people to self-analysis as well, forcing them to investigate their own worldviews, motives, priorities, and goals in life. Such subjective, long-term projects are more conducive to the serious study of most subjects, including literature, history, and even science. Why then do public high schools not adopt these methods rather than cling to their weekly quizzes and their end-of-chapter tests? One simple but very big reason: They do not have the necessary time.
Homeschooling families, however, do not have that problem. In fact, time is one of the three top advantages of homeschooling. The other two invaluable perks are flexibility and freedom. As parents of homeschooled high school students, we can provide our teens with the space they crave to delve deeply into their subject matter. We can allow them the blocks of concentrated focus required for such comprehensive studies. We can give them the time they need to immerse themselves fully in their work. Finally, we can step back, smile, and relax as our homeschool graduates dazzle us with all they have learned along the way.
Kim Lundberg is the busy mom of 10 great kids. She and her family have been homeschooling for 16 years, and they make their home in beautiful northern California. Kim enjoys teaching drama, writing, and world history classes, as well as reading mysteries, baking goodies, camping, and listening to her kids talk, sing, and make music.
This article was originally published in the Sep/Oct ’08 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more great homeschool help, download our FREE report—The Secret to Homeschooling Freedom! Click here to download: http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com/resources/report.htm
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