7 thoughts on “Yea! We got an A!”

  1. I rember my son’s fourth grade teacher commenting on this in one of our parents meetings and thinking that it was a great way to frame it. I just don’t remember now what she said. :-/

  2. I’m not a parent with elementary-age school kids, but this reminds me of a remark in a book I recently read called Convergence Culture (http://www.amazon.com/Convergence-Culture-Where-Media-Collide/dp/0814742815/sr=8-1/qid=1169347400/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-6931629-3708060?ie=UTF8&s=books) by Henry Jenkins (http://www.henryjenkins.com). It’s mostly about the entertainment industry and the new ways that fan groups are interacting with it, but he also makes the point that in business and many other areas of “adult” life, people need to have collaboration skills and know how to benefit from collective intelligence (i.e., I don’t know such and such that might be useful for this project, but Bob does); he says that modern ways of dealing with culture, especially on the internet, through bringing collective intelligence to bear on problems to wide-ranging for any one person to solve (like The Lost Experience, if you’re familiar with that), are providing a better introduction to that sort of problem-solving than what kids learn in school, which is very individualistic, and very focused on NOT asking your classmates, etc. for help. I certainly don’t think that just asking someone else for help should be a substitute for finding out how to do it on your own, or learning how to research something yourself, but anyway, it was something to think about. How much help is too much help? Yeah, I don’t know, but it is an interesting question, and perhaps on a larger scale than specific projects… I guess the line is between “helping in a way that helps them learn” and “doing it for them,” but sometimes it’s so much easier to just do it than guide someone else through doing it; not to mention that your line could be in a very different place from the teacher’s line, not to mention the kids’ line!

  3. What’s your kids’ project? “Early Shelters” is Madeleine’s first school project.

    My mom deeply advocated independence, and I didn’t see how tough that was, til now! She would help my brothers and I brainstorm ideas, help us to organize our thoughts and assess affordability of materials, then she’d take us to shop for materials. She’d ask us to draw up plans and she’d check them out to see if the plans were “do-able.”

    But then she wouldn’t touch anything, until she thought every effort had been made to problem solve. This generally meant that assistance was needed late in the night before the due date!

    My brothers and I had difficulty only when our classmates won science project prizes for work that was obviously enhanced by adult know-how. They felt that was a part of the learning process also, a hard part of the learning process.

    I never considered how challenging “independence” is to give! Madeleine suggested a number of options other people chose, and I said I always liked to do something no one else thought of, and then I liked to keep it secret. “Did you know we already have information on Himalayan Yurts in our book on felting?” It came out of my mouth before I even thought about the ramifications! Zoinks! {bad Mom, bad Mom…)

    So we found the book, and she drew up some plans. She whispered her idea to her teacher, who was just thrilled. She hand-felted her wool into the fabric for the walls, and we’ll see where it goes from here.

    I hope I haven’t ruined her for life. I’m the mom who doesn’t push swings or give boosts, the “so tell me what your resources are?” mom. I’ll try to be less enthusiastically suggestive, next time. I want her to do it herself– but I can say that more easily, knowing the project is not graded.

  4. Over Christmas break, Nevin (3rd grade)had to draw a design for a energy efficient home and explain why he did what he did. Now, Calvin (5th grade) is having to do an oral presentation on a state. He chose OK, where we lived before MO. The projects both had very specific guidelines. Nevin’s project seemed above his ability in my opinion. Calvin’s is not so hard. But Calvin does need a lot of motivating, so parental involvement is highly necessary. His project is in his realm of ability, yet we’re not sure he would get it all done on time withour major input from us. That being said, we would have just let them work on it on their own, letting the chips fall where they may. But then there is the standard set by the other parents who obviously have gotten very involved. It is a tough boundary to figure out. I am sure it will get easier as they get older, but it feels like a big deal at this point in our lives with 3 elementary school-aged kids.

  5. For my 5th grade state report, my mom helped and guided on things I couldn’t do-making a salt map and research. My report wasn’t the best but I remember having a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing it was my report and not my mother’s.

    I think too much help from parents causes a child to lack independence, lose confidence in one’s abilities, and feel less responsible for the final grade or outcome.

    It’s frustrating to see kids turn in work that is not theirs. They miss out on the learning process and are obviously taking the easy way out. I would have loved to punish these kids for their dishonesty, but can’t due to lack of proof. It’s not fair. But, I know that in the end, these “cheaters” are only cheating themselves and it will catch up with them later.

    It’s even more frustrating to see kids not turn in work because their parents don’t care. It is not fair. They have so much more to overcome I think. Your kids are so blessed to have you, an educated parent who is concerend with their education and success.

    Most teachers aren’t fooled by lavish projects done by overbearing parents. Even if a high grade is given, its to avoid conflict with the “crazy” parent-yes it’s not fair. The student who turns in a project consistent with his/her abilities and that is complete is by far superior, even if the grade isn’t as high as the crazy parent’s grade.

    The sense of accomplishment felt by the second student far outweighs and outlasts the fleeting high of the dependent, irresponsible, and apathetic first student.

  6. Crystal,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I hope we haven’t helped too much. I think even with our help, our kids still have taken ownership of the projects they do.

    Are you Crystal N. from OK? Just curious.

  7. Hi Jennifer, yes! I couldn’t get my email address to go through on my post?!! Email me cgneasbitt@yahoo. I view your and Mark’s blogs occasionally. We think about you and your family. Hope all is going well. Talk soon?!

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