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One of those go deeper or cover more questions...


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I am in my 16th year of homeschooling, ds is graduated, dd is a junior. When I homeschooled his high school years, I felt like I needed to have everything he needed right there, in other words, all books, everything needed to answer questions, etc. He ended up not doing much research for everyday lessons, just when he did papers. I thought since he was doing all of his school on his own, that it should be "neat and tidy, all there." So, he would read, have what he needed to answer questions (mostly, answers were in his texts or the book he was reading), it went very smoothly (and quickly). For some reason I thought this was not right, so with dd, I have a history curriculum (All American History) that has these "extra" questions that you need to do for high school. The answers are not in the text, you have to research the answers. I couldn't understand why it took her so long, so I sat with her tonight. It.was.awful. Each reference gives a different spin on things. You have to read a lot of "articles" to figure out what you need to write. These questions could turn into research projects, but we don't have time for that (we do 2-3 chapters a week).

 

It does seem very good for her to do this, she is learning how to reword things, research, weed through differing views, but again, it takes so much time. Add to the math and chemistry that take close to half a day, and reading whole books because she didn't like the selections in the American Lit. book, her day is long, and we aren't finishing (and definitely with this depth, not covering as much ground.)

 

One idea I have is to make her do one of them each chapter (or every other chapter) as a project and grade it as her test, opinions? That actually would give her the research experience, and we would be trading studying for and taking the test (which takes her awhile).

 

So, the continuing question of depth or shallow and more.... Can a few of you give me an idea of how much of this "deeper research" we should be doing, and how much we can just "get 'er done."

Edited by Susan C.
typo
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I'm not there yet, but I have been wrestling with your dilemma as I plan for high school. If we use textbooks, how do we fit it the study and test cycle with research, especially since both are important and require different skills? I decided that alternating might be a possibility. First chapter for the traditional work of testing; i.e. vocabulary, answering questions from the text, notetaking, studying, etc., and the next chapter for research work.

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As is often the case, I will argue for a middle path. Research, particularly in areas of interest, was more meaningful to my son than reading a text/taking a test. For example, my son did a number of history projects in 9th and 10th. He then began history courses (his choice) at the CC. There, his tests were essay based: students had "short answer" questions in which they would write a paragraph or two, then deeper questions which required a page or two for a response. I don't think that I could have pulled off giving him that sort of test at home with a clock ticking. I think he would have viewed it as unreasonable, yet he saw that this sort of "writing until your hand hurts" was an expectation elsewhere. Studying for these exams was very time consuming because it required him to make many connections beforehand. There is no time to connect the dots on test day.

 

I guess what I am trying to say is that tests in which students regurgitate information are quick. Tests in which students are making connections may take as much time as those research projects.

 

My plan would be to strike a balance. Have a project or paper for some situations, tests which go beyond fill in the blank or multiple choice for others. I would allow your student to cultivate her interests via her research with the understanding that core courses cannot be neglected.

 

We had to take a "get 'er done" attitude with some things. It saddened me to cover American Government this way since I was crafting (at least in the back of my mind) a class based on political philosophy. With APs and CC courses, there was no time. Reality hits occasionally.

 

Jane

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Thanks! LOL is right. Middle age, homeschooling and a teen make for a scrambled brain!

 

I once quipped to another board member that there is a repository somewhere that houses middle school boy brains and you get them back at some unknown later date. I think my middle-aged brain has decided to join my youngest's brain on its vacation.:001_huh: Anyway, this is an important enough topic to warrant two threads, don't you think?;)

 

I will vote with Jane in NC on sticking to the middle ground on this issue if only from a practical stand-point. However, my heart, soul, and vacationing brain would prefer to spend more time on going deeper. You see, I have this inordinate fear that we live our lives on such a quick-paced, superficial level that soon our brains will have a difficult time forming those connections that go along with the deeper thinking unless we practice, practice, and practice it some more.

 

I was already obsessing about this point before my oldest informed me she would be coming home for her final year of high school. No small amount of my time is spent perusing AP syllabi looking for questions to adapt for my dd's work. I expected the volume of material in the AP English Lang. courses but was blown away by the AP World History syllabi. I keep coming back to them like a bystander at a horrible wreck. For anyone that is interested, here is the course description from the AP College Board. My favorite syllabus is #1 as it has a day-to-day topic schedule. The major world religions are covered in 6 days.:svengo: This is definitely an inhale and regurgitate pace. Perhaps this would bother me less if I hadn't recently asked a good friend of my dd's to share with me the highlights of his AP English Language class. The boy got a four on the test and he could remember three of the works he read and two of them were his summer reading. "It wasn't relevant and it was just something for my transcript," was his parting comment. Ugh!

 

I guess this would be my long-winded support of the op's idea that on another thread that traditional school and classical education really don't mix well. So, do enough breadth to play the game, but continue to go deep to build those cognitive skills. I know it's not that black and white, but I do think you are on the right track.

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I will vote with Jane in NC on sticking to the middle ground on this issue if only from a practical stand-point. However, my heart, soul, and vacationing brain would prefer to spend more time on going deeper. You see, I have this inordinate fear that we live our lives on such a quick-paced, superficial level that soon our brains will have a difficult time forming those connections that go along with the deeper thinking unless we practice, practice, and practice it some more.

 

I was already obsessing about this point before my oldest informed me she would be coming home for her final year of high school. No small amount of my time is spent perusing AP syllabi looking for questions to adapt for my dd's work. I expected the volume of material in the AP English Lang. courses but was blown away by the AP World History syllabi. I keep coming back to them like a bystander at a horrible wreck. For anyone that is interested, here is the course description from the AP College Board. My favorite syllabus is #1 as it has a day-to-day topic schedule. The major world religions are covered in 6 days.:svengo: This is definitely an inhale and regurgitate pace. Perhaps this would bother me less if I hadn't recently asked a good friend of my dd's to share with me the highlights of his AP English Language class. The boy got a four on the test and he could remember three of the works he read and two of them were his summer reading. "It wasn't relevant and it was just something for my transcript," was his parting comment. Ugh!

:eek: I looked at that schedule — one day each for Greece & Rome??? Three days to cover the Maya, Aztec, and Inca empires??? That just seems completely pointless to me; the test becomes merely a measure of short-term memorization skills, not a deep understanding of the subject.

 

Is she doing both AP English & AP World History, or are you just looking for topics/ideas? IMO covering all of world history in one year is crazy — have you considered having her do Western Civ I and take the CLEP instead of AP? It may still count for college credit, depending on the school, but it would be a much more reasonable pace and would allow you to go into much more depth, plus it would tie in better with what Swimmer Dude is doing. Or maybe I've totally misunderstood what you meant, in which case ignore me. :tongue_smilie:

 

So, the continuing question of depth or shallow and more.... Can a few of you give me an idea of how much of this "deeper research" we should be doing, and how much we can just "get 'er done."

I think it's become sort of an unquestioned assumption that "breadth" provides the best foundation, and then you pursue depth. Unfortunately, I think that when the "breadth" consists of thousands of disparate facts jammed into kids' heads year after year, building on that "foundation" is like trying to build on a pile of gravel. There's no coherence, no structure to it. IMHO going deeper in a few areas within a subject actually provides a better foundation (or maybe scaffolding is a better word) in the long run. Not only is there more coherence to it, but kids tend to retain far more when it's a subject that interests them, rather than a set of random facts they need to memorize for a test.

 

So, to (sort of) answer your question: I would focus on real depth and understanding in areas where the student has genuine interests, and take a minimalist, git-'er-done attitude towards the "tick the box" subjects that the student doesn't have any interest in or aptitude for. However, I'd add that it's also possible to use the depth approach to create interest in a subject, as I've done with my DS and history. Science is his thing, so I've used that as an "in" to the study of history — he reads about the history of science, technology, and weapons/warfare and just "happens" to absorb all those names, dates, and battles in the process. Literary analysis, OTOH, is always going to be a drudge/chore for him, and once he leaves home he'll only ever "use" it in a single Freshman Comp class, so that will be a "git 'er done" subject here. Foreign language is another tick-the-box subject, and my goal is to have him get through Intermediate Spanish II on a pass/fail basis at the CC, which will get his college language requirement out of the way. Since his real interests and aptitudes are in the sciences, we're definitely pursuing depth there, and even though we're not going "in order" or following a standard syllabus, I have no doubt that he'll end up much better prepared for college than a typical PS student would be.

 

Jackie

Edited by Corraleno
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I have decided to let my child dictate the path when it comes to courses that are more subjective in content. My 11th grader completely balked this yr over American history via textbooks. (we never use textbooks for history!) She was infuriated that the entire Revolution was covered in 2 pages! (My oldest, OTOH, did not like history and was happy to simply zip across the surface.)

 

So.....we are back to a huge stack of books which has essentially tripled her reading load. She is happily reading for extra time each day. She now feels like she is actually learning something vs. skimming the surface.

 

Yet, I can't bring myself to approach science any other way than the traditional textbook one when it comes to high school science (though we don't use science texts prior to high school sciences!) I guess I see the content in science courses as more traditional in scope and sequence and want to make sure that all those key topics are hit.

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Ok, so I can see how depth works for history because when my children were little, they were fascinated by the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, read lots about them, and consequently were able to study the rest of history lightly by just comparing everything to those civilizations. I helped this process along by supplying a bit of cultural anthropology. It doesn't make them experts in history, but it is enough to let them think about a political situation in more than a superficial way. I can also see how depth works for literature. Great works are built on each other and if you know a few of the beginning ones (in my children's case, a few Greek plays, Shakespeare, Plato's Republic, LOTR, some mythology, and folk tales), you can build up the rest of your knowledge fairly easily by comparing everything to those. We're not trying to do depth in math, music, art, or foreign languages; we are just trying to learn to do or make those things. What baffles me is science. How does depth in one scientific thing translate into being able to quickly assess other scientific things? There is the scientific method and scientific thinking. In the most general sense, there is the I-know-how-to-learn-one-thing-so-I-can-learn-something-else. The sequence physics-chemistry-biology builds on itself. But just because I have learned that a rock and a feather fall at the same rate in a vacuum doesn't mean I can quickly assess a bit of woods. I'm beginning to think that science is the big bugaboo of classical homeschoolers because it doesn't fit the depth is better than breadth model very well. Homeschooling has a natural bias towards depth versus breadth, just as traditional school has a natural bias towards breadth versus depth.

 

Ok - I think I just figured out why I spend so many sleepless nights over science...

-Nan

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Somehow, this seems strangely appropriate. I guess on the seventh day the student may rest.

 

Regards,

Kareni

:lol::lol:

 

Homeschooling has a natural bias towards depth versus breadth, just as traditional school has a natural bias towards breadth versus depth.

 

 

:iagree:

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Ok, so I can see how depth works for history because when my children were little, they were fascinated by the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, read lots about them, and consequently were able to study the rest of history lightly by just comparing everything to those civilizations. I helped this process along by supplying a bit of cultural anthropology. It doesn't make them experts in history, but it is enough to let them think about a political situation in more than a superficial way. I can also see how depth works for literature. Great works are built on each other and if you know a few of the beginning ones (in my children's case, a few Greek plays, Shakespeare, Plato's Republic, LOTR, some mythology, and folk tales), you can build up the rest of your knowledge fairly easily by comparing everything to those. We're not trying to do depth in math, music, art, or foreign languages; we are just trying to learn to do or make those things. What baffles me is science. How does depth in one scientific thing translate into being able to quickly assess other scientific things? There is the scientific method and scientific thinking. In the most general sense, there is the I-know-how-to-learn-one-thing-so-I-can-learn-something-else. The sequence physics-chemistry-biology builds on itself. But just because I have learned that a rock and a feather fall at the same rate in a vacuum doesn't mean I can quickly assess a bit of woods. I'm beginning to think that science is the big bugaboo of classical homeschoolers because it doesn't fit the depth is better than breadth model very well. Homeschooling has a natural bias towards depth versus breadth, just as traditional school has a natural bias towards breadth versus depth.

 

Ok - I think I just figured out why I spend so many sleepless nights over science...

-Nan

 

I think there's a sense in which you are comparing apples to oranges here.

 

First, you picked out a teeny, single element of physics and then compared it to the much larger field study in biology. If a kid has been fascinated by physics enough to look at some areas of it in depth, that is much more than simply knowing the fact about how things fall in a vacuum. There will be much more wide-ranging knowledge, historical as well as mathematical; gravity will most likely have been studied in conjunction with other things, whether they be mechanics or the workings of time and space, and the difficulty of bringing together other main laws of physics with that of gravity. I would also assume at least some skills to have been developed in going into this area in depth, including detailed observation, experimental procedures and thinking, keeping scientific records, evaluating work. Now you have something to bring with you when you begin to look at a different area of science. And I would think that having done some physics in depth, you would also know that you couldn't just look at an area of woods and expect automatically to be able to assess it, just because you "knew" science.

 

Literature in the largest sense is just as wide-ranging as science, and there are things that are definitely "nontransferable." For instance, I may know about British medieval literature in depth; how is that going to help me approach 19th-century Chinese writing (or any other specific from "world lit")? There are some things that will not transfer: specific national and cultural history, the stylistics of different languages, knowledge of the workings of literature within the system, etc. Then there are some things that will: the process of reading and re-reading, annotation, consulting other sources, background research, asking questions about the text, and so forth. With my PhD in 18th-century British lit, I would never assume that I could "quickly assess" a text from a very different time and place, much less a different national literature. I'd have the skills, though, to work on it and figure it out.

 

I think the skills that you have talked about in other posts lead to a way of thinking about a discipline and/or the world, and to a habit of proceeding in certain ways. Those are what you bring with you to new areas of a field, or even to a different field entirely.

 

So someone who has gone deeply into an area of physics, for instance, will bring a way of understanding and a knowledge of HOW TO LEARN about the trees that you mention.

 

And finally, I have found that going deeply into selected topics actually forges connections between fields, although in a different way than a survey or overlook does. It's not as though a person comes out of a few years of depth-directed studies having learned only about one or two things. Depth is, in a way, a misleading term, because it produces a mental picture -- for me at least -- of an isolated, detached, narrow little topic. But this absolutely does not have to be the case. My daughter's Star Trek obsession, just to take one wild example, led to discussions and readings in astrophysics, screenplay writing and the film industry, investigation into carbon vs. silicon as the basis for life forms, the history of computers and technology used in the US space program, grammar (Klingon as a created language and how it works compared to English), and an interest in the sixties (time travel stuff). There were so many connections to so many other things that it was almost overwhelming. I know this is not exactly the same as your more standard science question, but I think it is relevant to what is being discussed.

 

I hope Correleno joins in the discussion; I think she'd have great things to add given her son's science focus.

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Somewhere, buried deep in the 50-page thread, a member pointed out that perhaps what we were discussing was not really breadth and depth but content and skills. I try hard these days to keep the distinctions clear in my mind. Isn't it really the skills that we are trying to connect across disciplines? So it will be the research and problem-solving skills that you would move from chemistry to physics or as KarenAnne pointed out, from 18th century literature to Chinese Classical, yes?

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Ok, so the example was a bad one. And I should have qualified the literature part by saying, "In as much depth as we are interested in at this time." I am teaching basic (very basic) literature academic skills and assuming that my children will be able to use them for most of the literature they are likely to want to read for the rest of their life. I am assuming that I and mine are unlikely to want to study much literature in depth, so it is not worth learning many aspects well enough to have them at our fingertips. Mine will know that the non-transferable things you refer to exist and that if they do want to fully understand something, they need to investigate those aspects. They know this because we have talked about these aspects in relationship to a few works that we studied in depth. They only know that they exist, though, not what exactly they are for each culture. I am unworried by them not knowing the specifics because I know that they aren't going to want to study them, at least in their first go at college. Science is different for us, though. I know the skills will transfer, but I am dubious about my ability to teach those skills well and my children (at least my youngest) will be expected to have many of the basics of those specifics (content not skills) at his fingertips in order to manage engineering school. Perhaps it isn't so much that science is different in general, as that science is different for us? I don't think the more-more-more approach of AP sciences would work, either. I have come up with the sort-of solution of doing natural history at home for a few years instead of biology and using that time to let my son try to develop some sort of scientific thinking and a bunch of more in depth reading, and then sending him to CC for chem and physics. I just wonder how effective it will be to let him struggle along with relatively little guidance. It might be that he is mostly just spinning his wheels and that doing a more traditional science program might be better. I'm wondering if whether what we are doing is akin to giving a child a piano but no piano lessons. I understand that time to explore the piano is a good thing, but I think a judicious mix of insistance on practising basic skills, demonstrations of the possiblities, and time for exploration would be less frustrating and produce better results.

-Nan

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Happy birthday, Princess!

 

I think KarenAnne just pointed out to me that science is a problem because science skills alone will not be enough for my children to survive college; they will need lots of science content as well. And I am worried that I am not teaching the skills well. Well, sigh, I guess I'm teaching persistance, sort of. How many experiments does it take to figure out how to see any microscopic creatures in pond water? A biologist and a biology teacher and several books have assured us that we should be able to see them but we aren't. One of those books is a high school biology book and it is frightening how little of it we are covering.

-Nan

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Yes, Lisa, I think it is better to think of education as knowledge (content) and skills. The skills aren't just research and problem solving, but thinking and analyzing, articulating your opinion clearly and concisely. Knowing when to look for more information. In science there is a scientific method that is uniform for all the disciplines, but basic science knowledge is also universal -- carbon atoms are carbon atoms in chemistry, biology and physics. Being able to write well is important in every field.

 

A friend teaches economics at a local liberal arts college. Every semester she has to teach these kids that success in her class does not come from regurgitating what they've read but in applying the principles to the situations she puts forward in exams. In other words, they have to think. That is what we are getting at in homeschooling -- what we should be getting at. Our kids need to be able to think and communicate their thoughts in a logical and articulate manner. The ideal is having an inquisitive mind that mulls things over, makes connections, asks questions about literature, science, art technology, sees how to apply knowledge in new ways.

 

There are skills unique to different disciplines. Piano is a great example. I've known parents who just want their kids to "explore" piano or dance with no training included, but ultimately they have not produced a pianist or a dancer. BUT, I think studying technique without a love of the subject is equally bad. I get violin students, for instance, who are ready to quit because their teachers made them stick with some dry method book. I add a book of Disney or Harry Potter tunes, listen to music with them, share YouTube videos of violinists, and suddenly the instrument is wonderful again. There eventually needs to be a marriage of content and skills. For my own kids it has been in different subjects. My youngest is taking math and science classes outside the house because he has reached the limit of general knowledge and now needs a trained guide.

 

So now, what was the question? Which thread am I in? Am I adding anything of worth here???!!

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Nan,

I noticed when ds went to college, small tidbits of knowledge didn't help him a bit in that advanced chemistry class. Even though its just his experience I'm learning from, what I have taken from it is he would have been a little less overwhelmed if we had focused on concepts with practical examples (experiments) of how they work. He then could have at least taken basic chemistry principles to have them to work with. I'm not sure he worked out what I would call a method to do his science that he could apply to any science he wants to pursue. It was more of read, answer questions, do an experiment and hope it works, look at the book because we don't have a clue why we are doing this, cram the facts to do well on the test (he did this at home in high school, and in the college class). Maybe that is all average teens can do at the developmental stage they are at, I don't know. I do think that the sheer amount of work they are expected to crank out stifles any curiosity they might have about something they are learning about. So far, the only way I can think of to remedy this is to simplify the science. Cover the basic concepts of a certain field, do some really cool experiments, and hopefully, actually remember something. I look at middle school (or even upper elementary texts) and think, hey, this would be much better. No struggle to get it, enough brain power left to wonder about it.

 

Dd is taking chemistry this year, doing it online. It is pushing her upper limits, she pushes hard to get it, and is doing well (but it takes a big chunk of her day). We are doing it so she can say she took it, be exposed to it in case she needs to take it at college (or if she does an associates degree, so she can know chemistry, then it would be her only exposure). Only time will tell, but I think there is a good chance she won't remember much of it because of the level of difficulty and the speed she has to do it.

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JennW,

Yes! My only question is how this plays out in daily school, its probably different with each of us. If you are training them to think, say in science, it will take time to stop and actually digest what the lesson is on, even more time gather coherent thoughts to write about it. I think it would be great training, and is necessary. But, you could take a whole week doing one part of one chapter in the text. That is what perplexes me!

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She who is no longer homeschooling (because he left me for college!) has been thinking what a great week this would be to have a student at home. Look at what has been going on in the news:

 

Noble Prize for In Vitro fertilization

 

Noble Prize for the "scotch tape" method of isolating a single layer of carbon known as graphene (something we studied as an offshoot of our nanotechnology work connected with the Lego Robotics challenge a few years ago)

 

Release of the Census of Marine Life

 

Invasion of the Stink Bugs (or Bed Bugs!)

 

Etc.

 

I think that all of these topics could be connected to earlier studies, ethical issues, in depth investigations. Which is not dissimilar to the nature of literature discussions in many Well Trained households.

 

The traditional text book approach to science can be a turn off. Yeah, it gives a basis--but it does not always inspire. Ideally, I think we should offer the basis but perhaps in the context of something that grabs the full attention of our students. Ideally.

 

Back to the depth issue....

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I have decided to let my child dictate the path when it comes to courses that are more subjective in content. My 11th grader completely balked this yr over American history via textbooks. (we never use textbooks for history!) She was infuriated that the entire Revolution was covered in 2 pages! (My oldest, OTOH, did not like history and was happy to simply zip across the surface.)

 

So.....we are back to a huge stack of books which has essentially tripled her reading load. She is happily reading for extra time each day. She now feels like she is actually learning something vs. skimming the surface.

 

Yet, I can't bring myself to approach science any other way than the traditional textbook one when it comes to high school science (though we don't use science texts prior to high school sciences!) I guess I see the content in science courses as more traditional in scope and sequence and want to make sure that all those key topics are hit.

 

You are talking about my two dc! Oldest, graduated ds, came at three weeks into a US History book and asked how much he would have to read to go to whole books. I told him 30-50 pages a night. He said bring it on! He says that is the only year he actually remembers.... So, dd is doing US History this year, but she reads at about half or less the speed of ds..... so she is doing a textbook, a lower level one we need to bring up to high school level with extra research questions. She wants to just blaze through (but snubbed getting Lifepak). Ummmmm. I think she would be happy just reading the text straight through, with no work other than that, but of course, no way!

Edited by Susan C.
typo
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What baffles me is science. How does depth in one scientific thing translate into being able to quickly assess other scientific things?

I'll try to explain how we're doing science here, pursuing multiple threads or themes in different subjects and tying some of them to our history & geography studies. Background: Last year I tried the textbook route in biology, because it's DS12's favorite subject and I know he can handle the level of the material, but he HATED it. Dry, boring, sucked all the life and joy out of the subject for him. Plus he hated the idea of spending an entire year studying a single science subject, and I felt like an idiot every time I turned down a request to study some topic in chemistry, physics, geology or astronomy because "we'll be studying that next year/the year after/whenever." Doh!

 

So this year I decided on a totally different approach, which involves doing multiple sciences at once, but trying to relate them to each other or to our history studies, or both. An example: right now we're studying Greece, and for Astronomy we're studying the history of astronomy (ancients) as well as memorizing the constellations and their mythological associations. In Biology, we're about to start the human body, primarily because the "Bodies" exhibition is here for a few months and it makes sense to cover this part of biology while it's here, even though it's "out of order." I'm tying it in, a little bit, by adding in a study of ancient medicine, theories of health & disease, etc. In Chemistry, we're going to do a very light intro to biochemistry, relating it to our human body study.

 

Next month when we get to Rome, I'm planning one month on general background (TC courses) plus DS will continue his reading on the evolution of weapons and warfare, Roman technology, etc. Then the second month we'll devote entirely to a in-depth study of Pompeii (I just got the new TC course on Pompeii, which looks wonderful!), covering art, architecture, everyday life, etc. as well as archeological history and techniques. For science we'll do an in-depth study of tectonics/earthquakes/volcanoes, using selected TC geology lectures, documentaries, and assorted textbook chapters, plus our Natural History Museum has extensive resources on the subject (including a walk-through model of the interior of a volcano), and there are several relevant field trips within driving distance (huge caldera, extinct volcanoes with lava flows, etc). We'll also read Pliny's letters describing the eruption (and continue reading excerpts from Pliny's Natural History, Ovid's Metamorphoses, and Marcus Aureluis's Meditations). For DS's "fun reading" I have the 2 Roman Mysteries novels that deal with Vesuvius & Pompeii (which include Pliny as a main character), and for DD8 I have the 2 Magic Treehouse books on Pompeii & volcanoes. The human body study will continue, along with "biochem lite." Astronomy goes on the back burner for a while, and will be a casual, evening observation sort of thing.

 

I have the next three years roughly blocked out (by month) for "social studies" (history, geography, comparative religion, etc) and science, and I've tried to coordinate them whenever possible, while still providing a reasonable "flow" within each science. Some other examples of interrelated units (each of these are blocked in for 2 to 2.5 months):

 

Social Studies: Geography

Earth Science: Biomes (e.g. Ch 7 Tarbuck & Lutgens), Climate, etc

Biology: Ecology/Environmental Science

Chemistry: Acid rain, pollution, waste treatment, etc (Concept. Chem. ch 16-17 + other resources & labs)

Physics: Thermal Energy (Concept Phys Ch 21-22 + other resources & labs)

Literature: mostly nonfiction, e.g. Annals of the Former World, McPhee; Language of the Earth (an anthology of geologically-relevant fiction, nonfiction, & poetry), Rhodes et al; Sand: The Never-Ending Story, Welland, etc.

Will include lots of field trips, field research, and labs.

 

History: Explorers & the history of cartography

Earth Science: Oceanography

Biology: Fish & marine invertebrates (taxonomy & evolution, anatomy & physiology)

Chemistry: Marine chemistry

Physics: Waves

Literature: again mostly nonfiction, e.g., Sea of Cortez, Steinbeck; The Sea Around Us, Carson, etc., maybe a bit of Moby Dick

Planning to include either an extended trip to Florida to visit grandparents & add in lots of museum/aquarium/ocean visits & hands-on "labs," or a trip to Monterey Bay or Seattle/Vancouver, depending on which friends are up for a visit. :D

 

Some months line up better than others, but I do try to have at least two sciences, or a science and history, line up every month, and that area is then the main focus of the month. Over the course of the next three years, we should be able to cover biology, chemistry, physics, geology, and astronomy, with all topics at least at a HS level, and many at an introductory college level. I make sure we cover all the important topics by looking at the tables of contents for standard textbooks and then slotting in each of those topics. Within each topic, though, we may choose a specific area to pursue in depth, and just skim over others, but many topics repeat in more than one year, so any "holes" left from one year can be filled in the next time we go through it. I'm planning for DS to take Gen Chem I & II, Organic Chem, and Gen Phys I & II at CC in 11th/12th. Since he plans to double-major in Biology & Geology, I will likely leave those for when he starts at the state uni.

 

ETA: DS also does Paleontology as an ongoing "subject," but I don't count it as schoolwork or schedule it, because he does the research, reading, and fieldwork on his own. In fact, he's on a dig right now, one of two adult-level, week-long paleo digs he does every year.

 

Jackie

Edited by Corraleno
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She who is no longer homeschooling (because he left me for college!) has been thinking what a great week this would be to have a student at home. Look at what has been going on in the news:

 

Noble Prize for In Vitro fertilization

 

Noble Prize for the "scotch tape" method of isolating a single layer of carbon known as graphene (something we studied as an offshoot of our nanotechnology work connected with the Lego Robotics challenge a few years ago)

 

Release of the Census of Marine Life

 

Invasion of the Stink Bugs (or Bed Bugs!)

 

Etc.

 

I think that all of these topics could be connected to earlier studies, ethical issues, in depth investigations. Which is not dissimilar to the nature of literature discussions in many Well Trained households.

 

The traditional text book approach to science can be a turn off. Yeah, it gives a basis--but it does not always inspire. Ideally, I think we should offer the basis but perhaps in the context of something that grabs the full attention of our students. Ideally.

 

Back to the depth issue....

 

Exactly! I have been reading some of these articles with my dd, in the same way that we look at current events articles and reviews of new books. It is a way of building scientific literacy over time, building awareness of issues that are likely to affect our kids as voters, patients, consumers, citizens.

 

For the same reason, I am taking dd to a series of book readings and signings of new science releases. We met the author of Packing For Mars; read chapters from The Calculus Diaries; and are shortly going to hear an ER doctor and neurologist talk about their books.

 

It's interesting that this kind of thing should feel so far out in left field rather than a central component of science studies: the tyranny of the textbook and the AP course model shape and limit our thinking about possibilities.

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:eek: That just seems completely pointless to me; the test becomes merely a measure of short-term memorization skills, not a deep understanding of the subject.

 

Agreed, but this is foundational to the get 'er done approach! Unless you ditch the test..... :)

 

 

I think it's become sort of an unquestioned assumption that "breadth" provides the best foundation, and then you pursue depth. Unfortunately, I think that when the "breadth" consists of thousands of disparate facts jammed into kids' heads year after year, building on that "foundation" is like trying to build on a pile of gravel. There's no coherence, no structure to it. IMHO going deeper in a few areas within a subject actually provides a better foundation (or maybe scaffolding is a better word) in the long run. Not only is there more coherence to it, but kids tend to retain far more when it's a subject that interests them, rather than a set of random facts they need to memorize for a test.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree: How would this look for history? And science?

 

So, to (sort of) answer your question: I would focus on real depth and understanding in areas where the student has genuine interests, and take a minimalist, git-'er-done attitude towards the "tick the box" subjects that the student doesn't have any interest in or aptitude for. However, I'd add that it's also possible to use the depth approach to create interest in a subject, as I've done with my DS and history. Science is his thing, so I've used that as an "in" to the study of history — he reads about the history of science, technology, and weapons/warfare and just "happens" to absorb all those names, dates, and battles in the process. Literary analysis, OTOH, is always going to be a drudge/chore for him, and once he leaves home he'll only ever "use" it in a single Freshman Comp class, so that will be a "git 'er done" subject here. Foreign language is another tick-the-box subject, and my goal is to have him get through Intermediate Spanish II on a pass/fail basis at the CC, which will get his college language requirement out of the way. Since his real interests and aptitudes are in the sciences, we're definitely pursuing depth there, and even though we're not going "in order" or following a standard syllabus, I have no doubt that he'll end up much better prepared for college than a typical PS student would be.

 

Jackie

 

So I need to get her to elaborate interests. I asked her last night after reading your thread. She said history isn't her favorite. We are using AAH, it has quick chapters with extra research (but the research part is taking longer than I thought it would). If this is her get 'er done subject, I think I would rather have her read whole books since this text is pretty young standing by itself. If she just read AAH, no workbook, no research, and extra books (in other words, just reads her history), this may work. She has good retention if the book isn't too high of a reading level. Opinions on this??

 

I posted another thread a few weeks ago that science and math take half of the day. Someone suggested putting history and literature together. So, Scarlet Letter is in the suggested reading for the unit of history she is on, so she is reading it. But at a chapter a day there won't be many American Lit. books read. She is reading Cliff's Notes online as she goes. If she does 6-8 books w/poetry and some short stories, I'll give the credit, it's only half a credit along with grammar (which isn't happening, no time), vocabulary and composition. Should I ditch the grammar completely? If we did have more time, she would enjoy literature discussions. But, she seems to be getting the input she needs using online resources.

 

Dd loves Spanish, probably because I let her do whatever she wants as long as she can show 45 min. a day of studying the language. She is using Madrigal, Easy Spanish Reader, and Standard Deviants dvds. Algebra 2 takes awhile, but we are happy with what we are using. Chemistry is the gorilla in the room, when we added it in September, everything fell apart. I may just have her do it slower than the online class.

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Nan, I've been thinking of you all afternoon; it pains me to see other homeschooling moms in such agony of mind trying to figure out the best path because I know so well what an awful state that is to be in ... and it occurred to me that a good part of your anxiety seems to come from trying to foresee exactly what your son "should" know or cover by the time he reaches community college. Have you gone in and talked to a couple of the teachers there, asking what they'd like a student to know, ideally, before they take introductory chemistry or physics? That might hugely set your mind at ease. I think so many people come back to community college after years away from school, from so many various careers or lives, that probably less is assumed that you fear. And so much is new in physics discoveries, too, that probably people don't so much bring prior knowledge as go to community college to GET it.

 

Also, perhaps they could set your mind at ease regarding the whole experiment issue, if you asked about what is good for community college and what would be good for a student who wants to go on in engineering. There's nothing really to lose by asking a bunch of questions to try to guide your remaining homeschooling year(s).

 

And they may also be able to guide you towards (or given the current economic crisis even offer themselves as) a tutor in the skills you're afraid you can't teach your son in the way you think he needs. Even a couple of months of mentoring/guiding might be amazingly useful.

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Agreed, but this is foundational to the get 'er done approach! Unless you ditch the test..... :)

I'm really against AP testing for my kids. Our state uni gives credit for CLEPs, so DS will do Western Civ I (which we will have covered extensively, in depth, over several years) and probably US History I (which will be a git-er-done subject for us). All his core math and science courses (except in his 2 majors) will be at the CC, and he'll do the SAT2 in Biology to show competence in that. He's not a good tester (dyslexic, ADD, very slow processing speed), so other than the usual PSAT/SAT/ACT, that's all we'll do. DD is an excellent tester, and I imagine she'll do a ton of CLEPs in non-major subjects (once we know what she plans to major in), but they will either be subjects that we've studied in depth anyway or they will be in check-the-box subjects where she's basically just studying for the test. The sort of scenario that Lisa referred to, where students spend a very stressful year cramming thousands of facts into their heads for an AP test, then do a brain-dump immediately afterward (the student who did AP English and remembered none of it), seems like a total waste of time to me, and not a game I'm willing to play.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree: How would this look for history? And science?

I posted some examples above. This approach obviously won't work for someone who likes to have a firm schedule with everything laid out at the beginning of the year, because I just sketch out large blocks of time and then fill in the details as we get closer to actually doing the unit. This works for me because I prefer this level of flexibility anyway, in pretty much everything (because not only does *$ happen, it seems to happen with amazing frequency and bad timing in this family). It also helps that we have a huge library at this point, more TC courses than I care to admit owning :tongue_smilie:, a fairly significant documentary collection, and an extensive Netflix queue, so it's very easy for me to pull together the resources I need as I need them.

 

We have a large table in the center of our "school room" and I keep stacks of books on it for each history & science topic we're covering. For example, right now there are large stacks of books on the following topics: Ancient Greece; History of Science/Technology/Weapons/Warfare; Greek literature & mythology; Insects (which we've been studying all summer); and Astronomy. Each stack includes books ranging from general to specific, and from elementary level (for DD8) to college level. E.g. there are Usborne/DK books on insects, picture/story books on ants & bees (DD8), books by E.O. Wilson and other entomologists (DS12), college zoology books with chapters on arthropod anatomy & physiology flagged with post-its, etc. DS's computer has dozens of websites on insects, especially ants, bookmarked, which he can research any time he wants. The binocular microscope is set up on the table, with a large collection of insects and insect-related slides, as well as a giant anatomical model of a beetle. Our "pet" mantis is also on the table, which we feed and observe daily. (We have 5 egg cases now, some of which I plan to refrigerate and save for spring.)

 

This weekend, I'll put the insect books back on the shelf and set out the human body books, I'll replace the insect slides with human A&P slides, and I'll replace the beetle model with human anatomy models. I'll roughly block out the human body unit week by week, and list labs, TC lectures, documentaries, and activities for each week. E.g. the week on the brain will include several TC lectures, a couple of documentaries, dissection of a sheep brain, and making the Ellen McHenry "brain hat." The week on the senses will include several experiments, dissection of a cow eye, and DH will do something with them on stereoscopic vision (his specialty). I'll try to make the history & lit reading light that week so DS can read Jay Hosler's Optical Allusions.

 

Once biology is blocked out for the next couple of months (since that will be our science focus for that period), I'll go through and fill in the other science topics, like biochemistry, as they relate to the bio topic each week. E.g. I might do acid/base chemistry as it relates to the cardiovascular system, nutrition & food chemistry when we do the digestive system, etc. Astronomy is more casual, and we'll probably continue to focus on a couple of constellations once/wk, make another trip to the planetarium, continue to observe the sky at night, etc. In a couple of months, when we get to Pompeii, Biology will get "lighter" and the focus will shift to Geology as we study tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanos. So a new stack of books will get added to the table, and a new set of lectures/documentaries/labs/field trips will get blocked in.

 

Jackie

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And so much is new in physics discoveries, too, that probably people don't so much bring prior knowledge as go to community college to GET it.

 

 

Yes and no. The physics taught at community college, and in the first two semesters of a typical undergraduate introductory physics course at a 4 year university is mostly basics: mechanics, and electricity/magnetism. This stuff is absolutely essential, but over a hundred years old and you will not encounter many new discoveries in those classes.

Before you can understand the modern stuff, you need to have those "old" things thoroughly understood. Modern physics, quantum mechanics, solid state physics etc are all coming only afterwards.

 

As a physics instructor, I can tell you that the most critical skill your student needs to bring are rock solid algebra skills. I have seen many students succeed who had no previous physics exposure- and I have seen many students fail because their math skills are lacking.

 

As for science: it is IMO not crucial whether you do all those experiments (my kids hate experiments). The systematic thinking is important, a systematic approach to solving a problem, using diagrams for visualization etc. A memorization of facts will not be important at all.

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As for science: it is IMO not crucial whether you do all those experiments (my kids hate experiments). The systematic thinking is important, a systematic approach to solving a problem, using diagrams for visualization etc. A memorization of facts will not be important at all.

 

That's what I, a non-scientist, have been bumbling towards trying to articulate and that I have seen in dh (chemistry professor) and his colleagues: it's the way of thinking you acquire by pursuing something in depth, the learning how to learn in that field, that is important when you move on to the next aspect or section of the field. Thinking out an experimental situation is one of those logic skills that serves long-term.

 

As Corraleno so brilliantly illustrates, in-depth studies are bursting with connections to other areas of the same discipline as well as to other disciplines outside them. This is true of science just as much as it is true of the humanities.

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I'd like to add:

science is all about concepts, processes and connections. It is not a collection of facts. Memorizing data is not science. (That is why I was very puzzled when I read in another post of somebody whose student ditched "concept" based physics for the bare "facts".)

The facts are necessary so one has a basis on which to work. Just to give an example: in order to understand the working of a cell, you obviously need to know the parts of the cell. Listing the parts of the cell, however, is not science. It is what you need to do before you get to the science: the understanding of the relationships and processes in the cell.

These things often get confused in schools. Converting units is not science. Memorizing the different temperature scales is not science. Even knowing that water freezes at 0 degree Celsius is not science. Understanding what it means to "freeze", what is happening to the atoms, why something freezes, under which conditions - that is science.

Memorizing the periodic table is not science. Understanding how two elements manage to form a compound is.

Unfortunately, large parts of "science" curricula are devoted to memorizing this kind of stuff, or defining vocabulary words. Just because you have a new fancy word for a process does not mean you understand anything about it. It is necessary for communicating about the material - but knowing a definition of words like "linear momentum" is not physics.

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she did not "ditch" the course because she is incapable of grasping the concepts. She understands the concepts, she just doesn't feel it's necessary to do a bunch of silly experiments to understand something she already gets and can visualize.

 

Your attitude is condescending and rude. You claim to not understand what people are talking about due to not being a native speaker, yet you patronize very well. Your sarcasm in your posts is heard loud and clear.

 

Your reply to me in the other thread was downright rude...you disguise your rude comments by pretending ingnorance.

 

I deleted my comments over there, but when I came over here and saw you dissing my kid...well...

 

I never had physics...I do not claim to understand it. My dd is very math capable and enjoys math and science. She plans to go into a science field.

 

I just feel very irritable by the tone in many of your posts. Yes, I went and looked up posts made by you and there are regular comments made that seem belittling.

 

I won't be posting ANYTHING, ANYMORE. I can't take being treated like an idiot.

Edited by Robin in DFW
to say good-bye
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Unfortunately, large parts of "science" curricula are devoted to memorizing this kind of stuff, or defining vocabulary words. Just because you have a new fancy word for a process does not mean you understand anything about it. It is necessary for communicating about the material - but knowing a definition of words like "linear momentum" is not physics.

You've articulated perfectly what I dislike about high school science texts: the overwhelming emphasis on vocabulary lists, formulae, and predigested "key concepts," with practice tests and checklists to make sure you have them all memorized for the multiple choice, end-of-chapter regurgitation exercise. If you removed those things, along with the massive amount of meaningless stock photography that pads every textbook, there would be very little content left! That's why I'm primarily using them to get an idea of the topics to cover, and then covering those topics with more engaging, content-rich resources. For an arts/humanities student who just wants a check-the-box approach to HS sciences, I think I'd be more inclined to go with a science-for-nonmajors college level text than a HS text.

 

Jackie

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Would you please read my post about science and depth-versus-breadth and tell me what you think? The one in this thread?

 

Hi Nan,

 

If nothing else, being the homeschool mom of many reduces me to being practical. ;)

 

I do not use textbooks for science prior to high school precisely b/c I want my kids to experience topics in depth that inspire their interests in science. A while back I wrote about my views on "interest driven" science on the K8 board. I don't worry about "gaps" b/c I don't see covering "it all" as the purpose of elementary/middle school education. I see it more as sparking interest, delighting in natural order, and meandering through whatever trails that may lead to.

 

However, b/c of that interest driven approach in the early yrs, all of my older kids want to pursue science majors (21 yos: chemical engineering, 18 yos: computer science/IT, 16 yod: forensic chemistry, and 14 yos: astro-physics--for now anyway!)

 

I do believe that knowing how to process/synthesize info from a textbook prior to college is a necessary skill. I disagree with the views expressed in this thread that all science courses are nothing more than drilling terms and cramming huge amts of info. At least, that is not how my kids have viewed high school science. They all LOVE science and jumping into textbooks (other than Apologia) has been something that they have thrived in doing.

 

So....on the practical level, textbooks do serve their purpose. I do see there needing to be some foundational base for them to build their future exposure to science on. B/c I am not an engineer or a computer geek or chemist or a physicist......I have no idea what that base really needs to be composed of. (though, I also believe that college level science is all introductory level as well, so it will all be repeated again anyway just at a faster pace and slightly more in depth! :tongue_smilie::D:lol:)

 

I also believe that SAT 2s and APs do serve a vital purpose for those wanting to major in science. This is where philosophically our families probably part ways b/c I do see college as a means to a job and science majors are competitive fields. Again, from a practical POV they need to prove that as homeschoolers that they have met a certain standard.

 

Science and math courses do tend be more "standard" in coverage across the country. Their content is simply not as subjective as liberal arts subject matter. It is why I feel no compulsion to "regulate" those courses and go where we want in complete freedom. (For example, last yr my dd studied the West vs. Communism. It was a fantastic yr and incredibly eye opening. Definitely not a standard fare high school history course.)

 

FWIW......the decisions we make are not completely earth-shattering. We can make mistakes and they can make up for them in the future. I have made plenty of those with our 18 yos and basically after this semester at the CC, he will be where he should have been a yr ago.)

 

To get the point after all that rambling :tongue_smilie: sometimes we need to just forget the philosophical side of the argument and simply just do. And then......let go and decide the decision is made and it is what it is---the best we decision we know how to make with the information we have. :grouphug:

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I do believe that knowing how to process/synthesize info from a textbook prior to college is a necessary skill. I disagree with the views expressed in this thread that all science courses are nothing more than drilling terms and cramming huge amts of info. At least, that is not how my kids have viewed high school science. They all LOVE science and jumping into textbooks (other than Apologia) has been something that they have thrived in doing.

 

So....on the practical level, textbooks do serve their purpose. I do see there needing to be some foundational base for them to build their future exposure to science on. B/c I am not an engineer or a computer geek or chemist or a physicist......I have no idea what that base really needs to be composed of. (though, I also believe that college level science is all introductory level as well, so it will all be repeated again anyway just at a faster pace and slightly more in depth! :tongue_smilie::D:lol:)

I should clarify that I don't have a problem with college-level textbooks, I just dislike the standard US high school texts which (IMO) are designed to teach the state standards that will be on the tests, rather than teaching the actual science (or history...or literature....or whatever). College textbooks are chosen by professors, not school boards, so they don't have those restrictions and can leave out all the extraneous bells & whistles (7 levels of subheadings, 5 fonts, 12 colors, sidebars, vocab lists, pre-highlighted "key concepts," pointless photos of beakers and batteries and men in lab coats, etc) that school boards seem to think contribute to higher test scores. Personally I think that stuff gets in the way of learning the actual concepts, and allows students to give the illusion that they understand the content (by filling in the correct bubble on the test) even if they don't.

 

For intro level high school science I prefer nonmajors-type college textbooks (e.g. Hoagland's Exploring the Way Life Works, Smith & Pun's How Does the Earth Work, Dunn's Caveman Chemistry, etc.), because I think the concepts are explained more clearly and in a less "predigested" way, and I prefer college texts (or CC courses) for upper level HS science. But that's just my own crankiness about textbooks, possibly because I used to be a book designer. :tongue_smilie:

 

Jackie

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I should clarify that I don't have a problem with college-level textbooks, I just dislike the standard US high school texts which (IMO) are designed to teach the state standards that will be on the tests, rather than teaching the actual science (or history...or literature....or whatever). College textbooks are chosen by professors, not school boards, so they don't have those restrictions and can leave out all the extraneous bells & whistles (7 levels of subheadings, 5 fonts, 12 colors, sidebars, vocab lists, pre-highlighted "key concepts," pointless photos of beakers and batteries and men in lab coats, etc) that school boards seem to think contribute to higher test scores.

 

Actually, college textbooks are well on the way to be just that. The actual content of what now is a 1,400 page textbook used to be 500 pages 20 years ago in black and white, with contiguous text explaining concepts. Now it is multi-colored, small sound bites of text, with lots of photographs, side bars, colored boxes with formulas (which invites students to skim the reading and just copy the colored boxes)

Of course those glossy colored books cost a lot of money - they are just expensive to produce. They do not, however, actually enhance learning.

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Thank you for thinking of me, KarenAnne.

 

I asked my son what he has learned so far this year with our 5-strand approach (keep up with current events, learn to design and write up experiments, get better at reading, outlining, and writing about science). He said nothing, except what he had read and how to use a microscope and how to write up a lab better LOL. He forgot to add the quantum physics he learned when he decided to write a report about what quantum physics is. When I asked him how the outlining was going, he said it had slowed down a lot because his outlines were getting better and he was doing a better job, that he kept seeing how what he had written didn't match the book. I guess he's learning. It seems like this could be so great if I did a high school version of Jackie's house and could casually supply detailed information on lab techniques (skills) and content. My science knowledge is pretty limited. I only know how to use a microscope because my mother gave me a small one when I was growing up and showed me how to use it. It is that small one that we are using now because my mother's big one has somehow gone missing. Our local school system does a pretty good job with textbook science/labs. I guess the question is whether doing a really bad job of the first scenario is better than a mediocre version of the second scenario (my two choices). Just trying to explain what is bothering me... I guess I just have to keep telling myself that he will have a reasonable version second scenario for chem and physics at CC. Usually, though, when something bothers me this long, there really is something wrong even though I can't put it into words, which is why I keep worrying. Perhaps I will feel better when I have managed to tackle some of the resources people suggested last time I panicked. I'm not really worried about whether he learns to read across a muniscus or wash his glassware to make sure it isn't contaminated. The instructions for baby bottles and canning contain that information GRIN. It isn't rocket science. Maybe I'll just have him do a section of that bio book and see how he does. If he can manage it in a reasonable amount of time, then maybe I'll stop worrying. I want him to read the "chemistry of life" section, anyway.

 

A few years ago, I asked the CC what I needed to do. The dean of science and engineering said to make sure his algebra was rock solid. More recently, I asked if he ought to do an easy science (they have a general one) as a first CC class, as prep for physics and calc, and the answer was no, have him do something easy to get used to being in a classroom, something fun that will fulfill one of his humanities electives, and that it would be a very bad idea to start with a science or math because it might take him awhile to get the hang of school and engineering schools would not like a bad grade in any science or math. I'm not sure I would believe whatever they told me, anyway, because in my experience, people who grew up in school have no idea what people who didn't can't do. Thank you for the thought, though.

 

As far as real science goes, my son's quest to see microscopic creatures with an old toy microscope is probably pretty realistic. It probably feels about the same as a real scientist's quest to see some rumored-to-exist quantum particle. Sigh.

 

-Nan

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Actually, college textbooks are well on the way to be just that. The actual content of what now is a 1,400 page textbook used to be 500 pages 20 years ago in black and white, with contiguous text explaining concepts. Now it is multi-colored, small sound bites of text, with lots of photographs, side bars, colored boxes with formulas (which invites students to skim the reading and just copy the colored boxes)

Of course those glossy colored books cost a lot of money - they are just expensive to produce. They do not, however, actually enhance learning.

:iagree:

 

And sadly, it's not only college books that are affected in this process of babying the content by spreading it over double and triple more space, adding colorful distractions, etc. - unfortunately, it's a phenomenon that affected the ENTIRE (text)book market. Homeschool curricula included.

It never ceases to amaze me how much fluff content there is around, how many useless distractions, and how, if one were to condensate it, most of our children would be learning from texts which barely hit a three-digit number of pages at the earlier stages of learning. Now it all seems HUGE, but in reality, half or even two thirds of it are fluff content. Another reason why I prefer to work with a plain text if I can - it's actually more quick, and more productive.

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A few years ago, I asked the CC what I needed to do. The dean of science and engineering said to make sure his algebra was rock solid. More recently, I asked if he ought to do an easy science (they have a general one) as a first CC class, as prep for physics and calc, and the answer was no, have him do something easy to get used to being in a classroom, something fun that will fulfill one of his humanities electives, and that it would be a very bad idea to start with a science or math because it might take him awhile to get the hang of school and engineering schools would not like a bad grade in any science or math. I'm not sure I would believe whatever they told me, anyway, because in my experience, people who grew up in school have no idea what people who didn't can't do. Thank you for the thought, though.

 

 

A few comments about this:

1. The comment about algebra is absolutely correct (as I wrote earlier). It is THE single most important prerequisite for any science class.

 

2. Suggesting to start college work with an "easy " class is actually not a bad one if the dean does not know your son and does not know whether he can handle a college environment.

Friends had similar recommendations for their publicly schooled son who wanted to do dual enrollment: the university strongly recommended that he NOt take calculus as dual enrollment because a bad grade would stick to his transcript; they told him to take calc at school first.

 

3. We are going a completely different route which might work for you and ease some of your worries:

my DD is auditing a College Physics class. She attends lecture, completes all assignments, takes the exams, participates in classroom discussions - but is not formally enrolled and will not receive a grade. IMO this is an excellent opportunity for her to get used to be in a college classroom and learn rigorous science -without any penalty in case she should not succeed. (As a side note: she is surpassing my wildest expectation; at age 13 she is top of her class and did very well on the first exam). We won't have any paper to "show" for it, but she will have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and become comfortable in a university environment.

 

Maybe this could be an option for your son as well.

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I would like to point out that regentrude is demonstrating in her posts on this thread another essential skill for scientists: the ability to write clearly and concisely. My dad was a professor of Physics who resisted multiple choice tests even in his large introductory classes because he said the ability to articulate exactly what a concept means was more important than simply knowing a fact.

 

Many years ago another science professor/homeschool mom wrote a long post detailing what she felt was the ideal science preparation for college. Her problem with most of her freshman students was that they were too textbook bound -- they could only learn what was in the text and regurgitate the facts or define the vocabulary. They had no imaginations, no ability to think outside the box, no curiosity and had forgotten how to just simply observe and ask questions about what they were seeing. She felt that the lack of curiosity was a huge loss as it is something you can't teach -- we have it as children and too often it gets shut down when by regimented textbooks and curricula in schools. Scientist remain big kids -- my dad was, KarenAnne's husband is -- they are downright gleeful about their subjects and about most anything around them. You can teach text book and test taking skills, but once that childlike wonder and enjoyment of the world is gone, it seems to be gone for ever.

 

This mom's approach (I printed it and kept it for years, but don't have it anymore) was in essence let kids keep exploring. Collect rocks and bugs, sort and classify them. Do projects, see what happens if you change on facet of the project. Like Ms. Frizzle on Magic School Bus always says: "Get messy! Make mistakes!" The mom recommended lots of non-text book reading through high school -- magazines like Popular Mechanics, Scientific American and others. In other words keep that childlike wonder about the world, learn basic concepts through exploration, get those algebra skills rock solid, learn how to write well --- and you'll do very well in college.

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..."articulate exactly what a concept means"...

Part of my problem is that my son either can't or won't do this. Ok - he tried mightily (and I think probably succeeded) with that quantum physics paper. Maybe he is getting there. But he absolutely refuses to do it for me and when I force him to, does such a horrible job of it that it is scary. And I can't figure out whether he can or cannot do it. Grrr... Maybe this is what is bothering me so much. I know he will have to be able to do this to survive college and the work place. If he can't, I think I know what to do to help him. But I can't even figure out if he can or not. Of all the things for him to choose to be stubborn over (very few things, actually), this was particularly unfortunate. Sorry...

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..."articulate exactly what a concept means"...

Part of my problem is that my son either can't or won't do this. Ok - he tried mightily (and I think probably succeeded) with that quantum physics paper. Maybe he is getting there. But he absolutely refuses to do it for me and when I force him to, does such a horrible job of it that it is scary. And I can't figure out whether he can or cannot do it.

 

Nan, I think you are expecting too much. If your son has not actually studied physics for several years, he will simply not be able to fully understand quantum mechanics. The concepts can not be "simply" explained (although some ideas can be made accessible to the general public).

Part of the difficulty is that the concepts of quantum mechanics conflict with everyday experience (most daily phenomena are described by classical mechanics). Understanding comes - even to the physicist- through working with the theory: after solving many problems, one develops a kind of abstract understanding and a feeling for "what will happen". Before this is reached, an attempt to teach it to somebody else is futile.

I commend him for his effort - you should not, however, judge his ability to explain concepts by this project. Most physics undergraduates would not be able to explain quantum mechanical concepts well, even though they may be able to solve the homework problems.

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Have you thought about e-mailing the publisher? (Bright Ideas Press) Maggie used AAH with both the children she has graduated, and might be able to help you with this one.

 

Heather

 

Thanks Heather, great idea (I usually do email text authors, I have no idea why I didn't think to ask for help...).

 

Who is Maggie? Do you have a specific email address? I did see a contact page on their website, but an email might be better.

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