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#1 of 24 Old 01-06-2014, 02:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So, yesterday my kids were doing their homework and asked me for some essay help. I was real busy so I searched the net to see if I could get some info and was quite surprised with what I found. There are numerous sites like this one, for example, http://essayshark.com where you can get someone to write your essay for you. I remember that when I was at school nothing like that existed, but nowadays you can find all kinds of stuff thanks to the Internet. I am interested in hearing what others think about this...would you let your kids use it if they are having problems with their essays or have run out of ideas?

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#2 of 24 Old 01-06-2014, 03:35 AM
 
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That is an interesting question. I have had to rework my thoughts about the acquisition of information in the last few years. The traditionalist in me says "we had to dig for the info and come up with our own thoughts." I chafe at the idea that it can just be laid out for a student. I do worry about everything coming too easy for kids now and not having to work enough for it. On the other hand we live in a different world now, where information will never again be hard to get. I guess I'm up in the air and conflicted!!


 
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#3 of 24 Old 01-06-2014, 07:35 AM
 
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Essay farms are clear examples of cheating and academic dishonesty.  Any school handbook will clearly delineate that these are not ok.

 

No matter how old you are, there have always been things like this around, by the way.  Academic dishonesty is nothing new in the internet age.

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#4 of 24 Old 01-06-2014, 08:15 AM
 
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Yikes, that's not "helping with homework." That's paying someone to do it for you. Totally unethical, and using such a service would put a student in line for suspension, essay or course failure and possibly expulsion. Major, major repercussions. As much as essay mills have become easier to access (I was born in 1963, and I remember ads for such places in magazines when I was in high school and university) there are now some pretty potent tools out there to check for plagiarism too. Buying an essay is now easier, but getting caught is also easier. 

 

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#5 of 24 Old 01-06-2014, 12:35 PM
 
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It raises the question though, what is better for success? The ability to form your own ideas and express them, or the ability to find someone else to do it for you....better still, the ability to navigate technology to serve your purposes.

 

I always find high earners get other people to do this sort of work for them. Those that can navigate technology to their advantage are even better off. Not that i think its right. 

 

(not trying to be silly, this is something i often think about)

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#6 of 24 Old 01-06-2014, 02:06 PM
 
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But when it comes to "what is better for success" you need to consider what you mean by "success:" in particular who benefits from the accomplishment. In this case the comparison to the workplace really breaks down. The beneficiary in job-related work is the organization or the client. The benefit is external to the person doing or administering the work (which is why money is used to compensate the workers). By contrast the benefit of essay-writing lies within the person doing it: goal is to learn, and to provide evidence of that learning. The world doesn't need another essay on Animal Farm. Your teacher isn't the one benefitting from having that essay in hand. The benefit is that you are becoming educated and proficient.

 

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#7 of 24 Old 01-09-2014, 07:09 PM
 
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No way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks would I let my kid use an essay farm.

 

I do certainly let them use the internet to do research, to cite their sources (using easybib.com or another similar site), or even to refresh their memories about how to structure an essay, but I definitely want them to know how to write and how to communicate on their own. I want them to have those skills down and not to be reliant on others. I want them to know how to form coherent sentences, to be able to hold their own in front of a group of people, to demonstrate their knowledge and insight in the workplace and out of it. 

 

You know what, my kids are both pretty adept essay writers and researchers now, too, in the 4th and 7th grades. They are very confident in their writing and know the importance of coming up with their own ideas, doing their own research, and not plagiarizing. They would _never_ think of having someone else write an essay for them. They enjoy it too much!

 

My 4th grader just wrote an unassigned paper last night. She loooooves to write. 

 

Neither one of them are big on math, though.


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#8 of 24 Old 01-09-2014, 07:32 PM
 
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My kid found a site that solves algebra problems.  I didn't let her use it.


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#9 of 24 Old 01-12-2014, 07:20 PM
 
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If that is a service that writes essays for people -- yea, no, no way. Oh, my, no. Even in middle school I imagine something like that is grounds for some heavy punishment...not to mention skips over most of the learning objectives. 

 

But, my DC used a service for helping to format bibliographies, which was interesting and totally allowed (required, in fact!) by her teacher. Personally, I would have LOVED this sort of thing. You select the type of resource and then follow the prompts for entering information. You do this over and over and then just hit "create" and you end up with this beautiful bibliography with NO formatting stress. Yes, one could say that the person using this service is not learning to format a bibliography...but, that chore sucks anyway so... ;-)  

 

I had a great heart to heart with one of my DC's 6th grade teachers about homework help because this is my DC's first year of HW and some of the lines are so grey and subjective. He basically told me that parents should help where they enjoy helping. Ok, that's vague but I totally respect that advice. He also does all the instruction in class so kids don't come home needing help from parents to complete assignments. 

 

My DC doesn't like help from us - she's headstrong that way. Me helping with an internet search feels like cheating to her. (But she doesn't seem to mind if I dictate...go figure) I like helping her and think I have good enough boundaries but for us it just seldom comes up. 

 

Half-way though our first year of having a child with homework and I'm coming to realize that it's really a personal family preference and a lot of different arrangements and philosophies can work well.  One thing that would make me uncomfortable is if my child absolutely needed my help to succeed.  I prefer a situation where it is about enrichment and expectations are flexible and understanding of family availability, aptitude and interest. 


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#10 of 24 Old 01-12-2014, 07:32 PM
 
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It raises the question though, what is better for success? The ability to form your own ideas and express them, or the ability to find someone else to do it for you....better still, the ability to navigate technology to serve your purposes.

 

I always find high earners get other people to do this sort of work for them. Those that can navigate technology to their advantage are even better off. Not that i think its right. 

 

(not trying to be silly, this is something i often think about)

To me this is all about learning objectives. What you mention is a good skill but it's one learned along with all the other objectives, not instead of. 


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#11 of 24 Old 01-13-2014, 10:03 AM
 
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One thing that would make me uncomfortable is if my child absolutely needed my help to succeed.  

 

I think that depends on what you mean by "help". I think dd1 may need DH's and my help to succeed in Math, but that's because she's not learning it at school. Her teacher isn't reaching her. She has a lot of trouble with math and he can't connect, so rather than have her fail math, we do re-teach it via homework. We don't do the problems for her, but we go over how to do the problems with her and re-teach her. She does need our help to learn how to do some of it (not all of it). Her brain just doesn't work that way. (She's got all As in all her other classes, but flunked her last math test.) She may very well have a math learning disability, but she doesn't want to go there. I mentioned the idea of an IEP to her because a lot of her friends have IEPs for one reason or another, but she really did not want to go there, and until this last test she had a B in math. It was a very hard-won B, but a B. This last test, though...ugh. So, yeah, I'm all about helping her understand the material if the teacher can't connect with her to make sure she gets it. 


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#12 of 24 Old 01-13-2014, 10:20 AM
 
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Yes, I can totally see that, Beanma.  My DC has what I suspect is a mild LD with reading. Like you we did not go the IEP route and instead opted to do extra work at home. What I am referring to are situations where the expectation from the teachers/school is that kids have lots of extra help at home in order to succeed reasonably well in school. A child/family who declines the services offered by school or extra help from the teachers is one thing...but a curriculum and school culture that necessitates parent intervention in order for kids to do well is not OK, imo. 

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#13 of 24 Old 01-22-2014, 02:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's certainly an interesting topic and it turns out there's a lot of discussion about this kind of thing, now students are turning to the internet more.

I read this http://essayseek.com/blog/writing-essay-help-for-students and it made me think about the kids who have all the knowledge but lack the ability to put those facts across. Do they deserve to get lower grades just because they messed up an essay? Most people, once they leave college, never have to write this kind of thing again. But I am talking about older students, not kids in high school, surely if they've got that far then they've put the work in?

I'm just playing devil's advocate here as I find it all really fascinating.

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#14 of 24 Old 01-22-2014, 06:27 AM
 
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I'm not sure about even the phrase "deserve lower grades".  Even in middle school my DC has a rubric so that students know how their work is graded. In college (if that's the level you're talking about) I think this is also the case and if it isn't a teacher should be able to provide a clear description of the grading criteria. If part of that grade is putting a students research and knowledge into an essay, I think it's reasonable to expect that the grade reflect that skill.  I mean, some people are brilliant writers but poor (or lazy) researchers. Is it unfair that they get graded in part on that portion of their effort/ability?  

 

I mean, we can get into the idea of whether grading itself is a good measure. Sure!  But if we agree that grading is an ok thing to do then what we have is a rubric that is either agreeable or not. From there, I think it's OK for a child's ability or effort in various skill areas to be reflected in the grade. 

 

My DC is in 6th grade and is a struggling writer and was, for a long time, a struggling reader. What she lacked in those areas she made up for in other areas. She's brilliant with time management, organization, and personal responsibility, for instance. She knows that those things come naturally to her and that other skills come naturally to other kids. Now, she may have a peer who really struggles with time management and it's absolutely fair and beneficial that those kids have some help from school and home. BUT, it shouldn't take the form of otgivenher people "doing it for them" because it's still a skill that they ultimately need to learn. 

 

So, I guess I'm saying that, yes, I think it's ok for certain skills and abilities to be reflected in grades (if we're going to do grades, which I'm undecided about but are a reality for our area). And, yes, I am totally OK with parents and teachers giving extra support for kids who struggle in certain areas. In fact, I think that after 6th grade all schools should be required to offer extra help to kids who can't get it at home. I also think it's great for kids to seek out technology to use to help them so long as the teacher is OK with it. But, no, I don't think that kids should find ways around learning some of the objectives. 


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#15 of 24 Old 01-22-2014, 06:36 AM
 
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I also wanted to say that part of this is pretty philosophical for me and very timely. I'm getting my certificate in art education right now. Part of that certificate involves me taking art classes. So, the idea of whether we should grade on aptitude (or worse just aesthetics) is on my mind a lot lately. And, honestly, I don't know how I feel about it. Right now I'm leaning towards feeling like, yes, we can totally grade on that stuff because it lets those kids shine in a field that for whatever reason they are performing well in.  If we're going to grade anything on aptitude, interest, talent, we should allow ourselves to grade on that for other things. Art, PE...writing, science, research, math. Let kids shine where they're gonna shine and embrace the idea that all kids struggle with some things (and that's a GOOD thing) and help kid find what they love doing. 


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#16 of 24 Old 01-22-2014, 07:48 AM
 
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I think those essay writing services, which is what the other poster linked to — not a blog like the URL suggests (and I'm not going to link to it to drive traffic to it) are cheating. Flat out cheating. And no I don't think it's in any way helpful or ethical or okay.
 
If a student can't write an essay then the student needs to learn to write an essay. There are many, many, many careers that rely on clear and persuasive communication skills. It's an important skill to learn. 
 
My kids are pretty good writers, but, unlike ICM's kid, they are pretty challenged at time-management . We constantly work on that. And they are learning, but it is not a natural skill for them. They're not math naturals either, but that doesn't mean they get to get someone else to do their math homework for them. They need to learn it. I certainly help them with math and read over their essays and keep on them about time-management and organization. I don't do it for them, but don't let them sink or swim on their own. I coach them and teach them so that they will — one day, someday — be able to do it all on their own (like pick up their dirty clothes, and get to work on time, etc).
 
And I agree if they deserve to get grades at all they definitely deserve to get bad grades because they messed up an essay just like my kid deserves to get a bad grade if she messes up her math test. It sucks, especially if she knows the material, but got flustered — how often in real life do we have to do algebra or long division w/o benefit of the calculators on our phones — but if we're doing grades (and frankly I would rather not do them at all) then heck yeah we're grading the essays and the math tests, too.
 
And ICM, my kid gets grades in art, too. It is one of her shiny areas and she works hard at it so if we have to do grades then yeah I guess grade art, too, though I would like to see it graded more on the amount of effort. Art is vicious, though. I had some college art classes and the professor could just rip someone's work apart in critique. I could do w/o that for my kids.
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#17 of 24 Old 01-22-2014, 08:04 AM
 
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And ICM, my kid gets grades in art, too. It is one of her shiny areas and she works hard at it so if we have to do grades then yeah I guess grade art, too, though I would like to see it graded more on the amount of effort. Art is vicious, though. I had some college art classes and the professor could just rip someone's work apart in critique. I could do w/o that for my kids.

 

I'm in the space right now where I feel that if a child should excel in math, writing, science...or whatever because of a combination of things that includes aptitude, that perhaps art should be graded in a similar way. (Of course this leaves me in a pickle in regards to PE because I'm not sure at all how I feel with that subject being graded on aptitude).  So, yea, difficult to decide. I think writing and visual art are a good comparison though. Or music. 

 

But a big part of this comes down to grade level. I think it's entirely appropriate for college level art (for an art major) to be graded on talent and aesthetics (among other things). And then it goes down from there. Highschool, yes, for sure but to a lesser extent. Middle school...?  I don't know. Perhaps to give a taste?  Maybe in middle school it is more about neatness, mastery of the medium, "good use of color", and etc. In elementary school I can see some value in talking about what works well in a student's work but I don't think the grade (if they are required) should reflect aptitude or aesthetic. 


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#18 of 24 Old 01-22-2014, 09:50 AM
 
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it made me think about the kids who have all the knowledge but lack the ability to put those facts across. Do they deserve to get lower grades just because they messed up an essay? Most people, once they leave college, never have to write this kind of thing again. 

 

Agree with ICM on this one: if part of the intent of the course is to encourage kids to learn to share their knowledge through good essay-writing skills, then certainly, a student who does well on that skill should get a higher grade than a kid who doesn't. It's an ability, to be sure, but not an inborn one; it can be taught and developed and refined. It's a way of gathering ideas, organizing them logically and presenting them clearly and persuasively -- and even if you never write another essay in your life after high school those underlying skills are used over and over again. And really, most truly poor essays are poor primarily because of lack of appropriate research and organization, not due to poor language arts skills. So I don't really buy the argument that one can have an excellent understanding of the material but be cursed with an inborn lack of language skills that make it impossible to learn the organization-of-ideas skills that are required for conveying ideas clearly in an essay. And I say this as the parent of a STEM-focused senior high school student who is dysgraphic and never wrote an essay until 10th grade but who learned to do so exceptionally well and is now being encouraged to look at careers in technical writing. 

 

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#19 of 24 Old 01-23-2014, 02:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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IdentityCrisisMama, it's interesting what you say about grading art. I think kids should be allowed to shine in that are, if that is their thing but I think it's incredibly difficult to assess it. How do you measure aptitude? Isn't it just very subjective? How do you do in your classes?

A lot of it does depend on the actual teacher, my daughter is great at art, although I'm not sure what I'm basing that on. She enjoys it, she finds it easy, she does it in her spare time when I'd read a book, and what she produces looks great, but not always how it's 'supposed' to look. I don't know anything about technique, but the shading etc she does is lovely. her confidence was knocked by a teacher who told her, when they were doing portraits, that she wasn't very good at doing eyebrows!

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#20 of 24 Old 01-23-2014, 04:14 AM
 
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I'm still earning my certificate so I haven't given any grades yet.  I imagine all the things I'm thinking about now will be drastically influenced and changed once I give my first grade (which is an odd thing to imagine, to tell the truth). 

 

I don't have super strong "hand skills" (aka draftsmanship). So, in drawing I really had to work for my "A". In fact, I wouldn't have minded if on a college level the "A"s were reserved for people who brought the whole package, including strong drawing skills. That would have left me with a "B" even as one of the more responsible students in the class and with strong skills in aesthetics.  I would have been 100% fine with that. 

 

But, yes, it is all somewhat subjective. I have been involved with adult artist most my life so I'm not too offended by that though - it just is what it is. I do hear over an over the negative experiences people have during critique. I've sat through a lot of critiques and have never seen the negativity that people have experienced. I do think that the subjective nature of visual art make it more difficult to express (and accept) criticism. 

 

Back to your OP, I think writing (outside of grammar and spelling) is also pretty subjective.  Another skill that a student is ideally learning, however, is to target their audience.  Paying attention to what a teacher's values and aesthetics are is a great thing to start practicing even in middle school. 


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#21 of 24 Old 01-23-2014, 08:49 PM
 
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Well, first off the idea of critique is unlike what you find in many other classes outside of the arts. My kids' class goes over math homework in class, but the teacher doesn't hold a single kids' homework up to the rest of the class and point out all the mistakes she made and what she did that's not working and tell the rest of the class what her grade is. That's what my college art professors did. Certainly you might have that in another arts class like creative writing or dance and in theater, definitely, since you're doing it in front of everybody else, but I think that getting called down in front of the class is what makes critique so hard for budding artists.

 

My kids had a fabulous art teacher in early elementary school. She was much like you ICM, a mom going back to school, but was just truly a gifted teacher. She had the kids do art journals and she would offer them encouragement and suggestions in their journals rather than critique them in class. Class time was for exploring new mediums and techniques. 

 

I think in Art classes in middle and high school I would like to see an A or B for a kid who tries really hard, maybe an A+ for a kid who is exceptionally talented. I think in high school a B for a kid who puts forth effort, but doesn't really shine talent-wise would be okay. Maybe in middle school just trying hard is enough for an A, if not A+.  I think Cs should be for kids who do their work half-heartedly and don't really care that much and a D or F would be a kid who just doesn't do the work at all, or only half the time.

 

I think essay writing is a skill and doesn't take that much talent. Creative writing takes talent. Certainly a talented writer can pull off a really, great essay, but a good, solid essay doesn't have to be lyrical and creative, just factual. It's like paint by numbers or putting a puzzle together. If you follow the directions you can get a good, solid finished product, worthy of a good grade. Essay writing = objective. Creative writing = subjective (plus some objective grading for grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc). Essay writing is a skill that can be learned like addition and multiplication.


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#22 of 24 Old 01-25-2014, 03:21 PM
 
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It raises the question though, what is better for success? The ability to form your own ideas and express them, or the ability to find someone else to do it for you....better still, the ability to navigate technology to serve your purposes.

 

I always find high earners get other people to do this sort of work for them. Those that can navigate technology to their advantage are even better off. Not that i think its right. 

 

(not trying to be silly, this is something i often think about)

 

You can never find someone else to form your ideas, because no one else can. Technology can't do it for you either. I suspect that the ability to have original ideas and express clearly helps people become more successful. I'm quite sure that being willing to work hard is linked with success.

 

My husband is "high earner" who has an assistant who does a number of things for him and an entire organizational tree under him that he assigns work to. I think that the way you are looking at it is backwards -- people who get ahead aren't those that figure out how to have other people do the creative thinking for them, they are people who can see the problems more clearly and find solutions more easily. The work they are passing off is more routine and straightforward. Even the engineering work that he is assigning is far more straight ward than the work he is doing. As far as doing his own writing, he routinely puts together presentations, communications with clients, etc. If he didn't have the ability to do this very well, he would not be in the position he is.

 

He would be appalled if either of our daughters didn't do their own school work or did anything less than their personal best. School is preparation for life, it's about developing one's mind. The end product isn't grades, its the ability to think and reason.

 

One of our daughters is currently in an essay writing unit in her college prep English course. They are working on developing skills for standardized test (which are linked to scholarship money and college credi), application essays, and exam essay questions in content areas. These are all college prep skills.  Students who cheat their way through aren't going to be well prepared for the next level, and it will catch up with them. They might be able to skip the opportunity to DEVELOP the skill, but they won't be able to skip the times they must USE the skill.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#23 of 24 Old 01-27-2014, 12:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
 

 

You can never find someone else to form your ideas, because no one else can. Technology can't do it for you either. I suspect that the ability to have original ideas and express clearly helps people become more successful. I'm quite sure that being willing to work hard is linked with success.

 

My husband is "high earner" who has an assistant who does a number of things for him and an entire organizational tree under him that he assigns work to. I think that the way you are looking at it is backwards -- people who get ahead aren't those that figure out how to have other people do the creative thinking for them, they are people who can see the problems more clearly and find solutions more easily. The work they are passing off is more routine and straightforward. Even the engineering work that he is assigning is far more straight ward than the work he is doing. As far as doing his own writing, he routinely puts together presentations, communications with clients, etc. If he didn't have the ability to do this very well, he would not be in the position he is.

 

He would be appalled if either of our daughters didn't do their own school work or did anything less than their personal best. School is preparation for life, it's about developing one's mind. The end product isn't grades, its the ability to think and reason.

 

One of our daughters is currently in an essay writing unit in her college prep English course. They are working on developing skills for standardized test (which are linked to scholarship money and college credi), application essays, and exam essay questions in content areas. These are all college prep skills.  Students who cheat their way through aren't going to be well prepared for the next level, and it will catch up with them. They might be able to skip the opportunity to DEVELOP the skill, but they won't be able to skip the times they must USE the skill.

 

 I think you articulate this very well. Ie, many successful people are successful because they  come up with good ideas and are able to express them. But there are a far greater number of people who have good ideas, and express them well, but are not successful. There are also many people who work very hard, but are not particularly successful. So neither hard work, having good ideas, and the ability to express them is any guarantee of success whatsoever.
 
You might say they are not the guarantee, but the foundation.  I disagree that these qualities are the foundation for success. I think when people believe in something, they learn to express themselves for their cause, regardless of how well they did at school when learning this skill.
 
Im not sure what exactly it is that makes a person successful. If i knew, i would make sure my kids mastered those skills.
 
I say this, because i have lost track of the number of people  who are underemployed/unemployed/low income earners, who excelled at both school and university in the art of original thinking and written expression.
 
Im not trying to criticize school at all.    Its where i am comfortable.   But in all honesty, im not convinced that the skills you mention are necessary for success.
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#24 of 24 Old 01-27-2014, 01:03 PM
 
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Im not trying to criticize school at all.    Its where i am comfortable.   But in all honesty, im not convinced that the skills you mention are necessary for success.

 

 

For me this would just come down to a certain level of buy-in when our kids go to school. I mean, the teacher has a learning objective(s). We can sort of fight that, or our kids can fight that but in the end it would look like a vote of non-confidence in the teacher. Some certainly deserve it. ;-)  But for the ones that don't I think it makes some sense to trust that they know what they're doing and learn based on their guidance. If our kids are not willing to do that most of the time they're in school, it makes little sense for them to be there. 

 

This is not to squash free-thinking but more about making the best of the school setting a family has chosen (or is stuck with). 


Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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