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Building Student Thinkers

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on April 14, 2018 17:01

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Too many students are caught in the race for AP success. But is this helping or hurting? Teaching students to be thinkers requires stepping out of today's educational norms.

Last week I wrote about whether college was worth the price. A reader and former college professor and I began a dialogue about how universities should be a haven for young adults to learn to think. I couldn’t agree more.

I look at kids in today’s modern high schools working diligently through AP classes trying to get it all done today. My son is no different. His sophomore year’s schedule had AP History and AP Physics. 

He’s a smart kid. I want him to be challenged in school. Boredom doesn’t help move anything forward in life. Yet I was concerned about his choices. After all, even if you ace the AP class and the corresponding AP exam, you might not get the college credit for it. It depends on the school you end up attending.

Are kids merely giving up after school independence to pre-take classes they’ll need to take again in college? Is the stress worth it?

His schedule was already set when a notice came out for a class I had never heard of: AP Capstone. It is actually a two-year program, two class program: year one AP Seminar and year two AP Research.

Intrigue led me to the information meeting. I became excited to learn that the first year of the class really focused on teaching students how to find credible sources, read news stories and determine what bias, slants and angles.

The second year was a research project on any topic the student picked in any subject where they would set a hypothesis, research it and write a paper and later defending the paper. Complete flexibility based on a student’s interest. Yes, any topic: one student the year prior did it on cultural effects of modern art. Pretty cool!

When I got home, I had a long discussion with my son. His class choices had always been his own. It was time for a parental academic intervention; his schedule would change. He hadn’t heard good things about the class. It was new and kids didn’t understand what they were doing or why. After all, school generally teaches subject matter and then has students spit it back out. But different can be good.

This class, of any, would help him learn more about thinking and critical analysis than anything else he would take in his high school career. In a world flowing with data and information, it is easy to get caught up in the tide of opinions. Rather than be repeaters of headlines and story synopsis, students in this class learn to dig deeper and read through the slant.

After wading through the first semester, pretty much with the feeling of “meh” for the AP program, my son fell in love with it. Honestly, to me, grades are important but if there is one class that will make a difference in his life and help him in his college career, this is proving to be it. This class develops thinkers not information repeaters.

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on April 14, 2018 17:01

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Source: Upworthy

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