Last week, parents all over town went in to visit their school-age children's teachers for Parent- Teacher Conferences. This year, Golf-Pro and I were among the many, as we went in to discuss what we could do to help the girls solve whatever problems there were that were causing each of them to have some grades plummet in bad ways.
Yes, of course, some of the problem is that there needs to be more studying.
And yes, there is a bit of spacing out (even occasional sleeping) in class. (And yes, we're reinstating the BED TIME chez Shadow).
But the real problem seems to be with their essays. Since they're both in AP classes (that's Advance Placement, which means they are sort of doing college classes in high school), these essay issues are affecting not only their English classes (duh), but their Bio and History classes. But what's up with the essays?
It's not that they don't have good things to say: The essays clearly show that the ShadowKids are full of keen insight (sometimes awesome insight). The things that Kitty sees in the poems she reads, and in the novels she reads are just amazing. It's CLEARLY not that she's reading shallowly.
It's not that they have trouble putting their insights into words: They've got a lovely facility with language. They have great grammar, and thus build lovley sentences.
Evidently, there's a wee bit of a structural problem. Somehow, they've gotten where they are without really learning basics of paragraphs: No one seems to have really conveyed the part where a single paragraph should have a single idea. Sure, a paragraph has more than one sentence (we're not making lists, we're writing paragraphs), but there should be one main idea in that paragraph, with supporting statements for THAT idea.
Without understanding the one paragraph:one idea approach, people tend to load paragraphs up with a bunch of ideas. Scattershot "paragraphs" are great for brain storming, but they don't work well for essays. When you have too many ideas in a paragraph, it's easy to discover you haven't actually supported some of those ideas. In fact, sometimes it means that the best idea gets no support. (In bio this means that important details get omitted.)
How do we let our children get into HIGH SCHOOL without teaching them basic essay structure?? Heck, PARAGRAPH structure?
What else are we letting them get to high school without learning?
(for those of you politically minded -- think of this as you go voting for your State candidates -- where is YOUR state prioritizing education?)