Tough Choices

A follow-up to a previous post about my 9th grade daughter’s choices for classes for next year. Should she take Honors World History or the regular class?

The teachers had a curriculum night last week. It was a good chance to meet a couple of teachers and to take a look at the books used for the two options. I found out that the Honors class is basically an Advanced Placement class, but they can’t call it that. The books are both REALLY big and heavy (no wonder kids have back problems). The Honors book is very text based, and I think is a college level text. The class involves a good deal of reading, note taking, writing and tests. The class is like any AP class, preparing kids for the AP tests.

The book for the regular class included many more visuals, including graphics and photographs. I didn’t get many details about how this class functions, as the teacher who was there was an Honors teacher.

Neither course includes any online textbook, and the honors class uses very little outside resources (online or otherwise) and certainly never includes projects. In fact, the teacher looked down his nose at me when I even suggested such a thing. The online textbook will change probably for the class after my daughter, as I know the district is replacing its Social Studies curriculum. However, that doesn’t help her!

So, what to do? I need to email the teacher to get the textbook titles/publishers to see if we could find used copies or a digital version. If she had her own copy of the book, at least she could write in the book and wouldn’t have to carry the huge thing back and forth. My daughter loves history and social studies, and does very well. She deserves to have access to the higher level content of the Honors class. Yet, she’s not a kid that does well with strict, linear, traditional teaching. I’m not sure she’ll do well in an AP setting that is so focused on intense reading and regurgitating history facts and concepts.

She’s a visual learner who can express her learning much better in projects, like movies, performances, presentations than she does in tests. While yes, she needs to learn to write, does she need to learn to write for an AP test? Is this really a 21st century skill that will serve her best in her life? Are colleges really that focused on that kind of learning? Given what I’ve been studying for the last year, I’m not convinced that this is the best course.

Decision to be posted later.

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