A TRUE Educational Experience

Today my son turns in his science paper.  It's a project the class has been working on for several weeks.  The topic of the report (as I understand it) was selected by each student and what they were interested it, although obviously it had to have something to do with science.  Since my son has always been a marine biology lover, his topic was the sawfish.  He worked on his research at school and at home.  He followed the directions as to how the paper was supposed to be written.  He wrote it on my computer using the Google Docs (as was required).  My husband and I reviewed it, made some suggestions, and helped him format it.  We took him to Staples so that he could buy a report cover for it (overpriced in my book).  When it was all put together, he was justifiably proud of the work that he had done.  In its completed format he showed me, my husband and his tutor his report.  He would have shown anyone else who was around if he could have.  He was happy and confident with what he had done.

This is what homework SHOULD be.   It was a process that my son learned from and can apply to future work.  While this was ostensibly a "science paper" it was so much more.   It was a complete educational experience.
  • He learned the basics of research.  The class went to the media center.  He had to find articles and books.  He had to do online research and had to learn about reliable websites.  (No Wikipedia allowed for this report, although we did go to the site and follow links from there to other webpages with verifiable research).  Good not only for science, but for any subject in which he might be required to write something.  And certainly research skills are something that we ALL can use in our daily lives no matter what our age.
  • He learned how to write a paper.  No, he's not ready to write a full-fledged research paper that will be published by Harvard, but he's learned the basics.  He wrote everything himself and then we reviewed it.  We read it out loud so he could hear what he had written and make his own decisions about what needed to be corrected.  He learned the importance of editing and formatting.  Again, these are stills that can (and will) be applied in other aspects of his educational life and will serve him well no matter what he chooses to do in "the real world."
  • He learned how to use and become more comfortable with technology. Believe it or not, my kid is probably one of the few who doesn't like to use computers.  (He does not yet have one and does prefer to write things out by hand.)  This paper had to be turned in type written and with illustrations.  He had to type up everything, which meant getting more comfortable with a keyboard.  He faced the frustration that we have all faced when technology did not do what he wanted it to do.  He learned how to format pages, pagination, etc.  All things that he will continue to use throughout his life.  
  • He learned more about the sawfish, obviously.  If he does choose to follow a path of marine biology, he has just expanded his knowledge of the subject.  (This is a kid who knows a great deal about all things aquatic; expanding his knowledge base is always a good thing.)
  • He learned the value of hard work.  He discovered pride.  His self-confidence grew.  All learning experiences should offer such a lesson.  

He turned in his paper today.  I honestly told him I don't care what grade his teacher gives him.  (Of course this biased mom thinks its "A" material)  What he took away from working on and writing this paper is so much more valuable than a letter grade.  Isn't that what education SHOULD be about?


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