Monday, April 26, 2010

Alpine Marsupials

I surprised General Mayhem with a test today. It wasn’t just any test. It was a history semester exam that covered the material he has read through the first sixteen chapters of his textbook. The General has a remarkable ability to load his short term memory with information, take a test, and not know a single answer five minutes after the test is over. I had decided that I would give him a short quiz by asking him questions from the test. Judging by the number of incorrect answers that he gave he would know how hard he had to study before the test at the end of the week. I was planning on allowing him to decide how to review 16 chapters worth of material in four days before taking the five page test on Friday. My plan started to unravel when I realized that he was answering most of the questions correctly. So, I kept going, marking the test booklet with a small check next to any answers he missed. When I finished the entire test, a semester exam over half the book given as an oral pop quiz, the boy scored a legitimate 85%. 85%! I was impressed.

I cannot take any credit for this result. The General has a genuine interest in history, and his history studies are self-paced. The results speak for themselves. I gave him the option of spending the week studying prior to taking the test on paper next Friday and trying to get a better score, or taking the 85% on today’s oral test and moving on.

We start chapter 17 tomorrow.

Later in the day, he gave me his study guide for one of his science modules. The science curriculum that we use breaks up the material into separate modules. At the end of each module there is a study guide and a module summary. After he completes both the guide and the summary he takes a test. When I read the answers that he had written I was puzzled. Some of the answers weren’t completed. Many of them made absolutely no sense. Most of them were wrong. I called the boy to the kitchen table to explain his work, and the boy who scored an 85% on a pop semester exam, this boy who not only knew that Hannibal took elephants over the Alps to attack Italy but that according to Gary Larson his first attempt was with kangaroos, this tough kid who happily camps in the worst winter weather and thinks that it is “cool,” was nearly in tears as he told me that the incomplete answers were incomplete because he ran out of room on the paper. Continuing the answer on the blank back side of the paper or – gasp – on a second piece of paper simply never occurred to him. It seemed perfectly acceptable to him to leave his answers half finished and completely unfair of me to expect better. He wasn’t too happy when I made him redo it.

Honestly. Parents. What can you do with them?

8 comments:

Some Guy said...

I usually turned the paper sideways and wrote along the margin if I ran out of room. The lettering became too small after a while though.

Michelle said...

LOL-TL took advantage a few weeks back. New baby, homeschooling, college, sleep deprivation-I didn't go in and check his teaching textbooks for about a week. He told me that he was scoring 100%. Well, he was. The only problem was that out of 22 problems per day, he was only doing 6 of them-and getting them all correct so his grade was 100%. He was pretty upset when I made him do those five days worth of problems in a day. Should we send them off together?

Teacher Mommy said...

~shakes head~ Yeah, parents and teachers are both just unreasonable and ridiculous. And in you he gets BOTH, so...

TobyBo said...

oh, my. First: I am curious what book you are using. Sounds interesting. And second: my brother once was in Big Trouble because he ran out of room on his spelling list and wrote the rest of the words right on his desk. I think that was in 2nd grade.

Brownie said...

You mean I'm supposed to be TESTING my children?!

I had a similar situation with Blondie yesterday. I was out of town on a job interview and gave her two videos (from youtube) to watch for school. One was on making soap and the other on finding the area of a triangle. When I quizzed her that night she could tell me in detail the making of soap. She was pretty clueless on the area of a triangle.

jedijson said...

Great use of a Far Side reference. Perhaps it reveals to much about me that I knew *exactly* what you meant when you said "Alpine Marsupials."

God Bless Gary Larson.

As for not thinking to use another piece of paper to continue answering the questions, I have a theory: There is a direct correlation between intelligence and common sense.

But I could be wrong.

Kathleen said...

Sounds like your boy and my oldest are a lot alike...lots of book knowledge, not-so-much common sense.

What history and science curriculum do you use? And did you have to make up the final exam, or was it already made for you. (Perhaps you already covered the answer to this, but I find it easier to write all of this rather than re-read...see, I'm a little low on the common sense myself sometimes.)

Papa Bear said...

He sounds a lot like me at that age. I don't know whether that should encourage you or make you afraid.