Thursday, February 21, 2008

Academic Stage Parents

I was uninspired about what to write today, but while reading an entry at Sorting It Out, I was inspired by what he had to say. You can read his take on the subject on his blog, but I will reproduce my experience of it here, which grew from the comment I made on his blog.

Most of you who are parents are familiar with the science fairs that most schools have each year. During his school years starting in the late 80s, my son was expected to do some sort of science project each year for the fair. These fairs were heavily promoted by the school, with family and friends duly turning out to see the science projects, which would then be judged by scientific soundness, originality, and so on.

The entire point of these fairs was to have children learn something about how science worked and to see how it applied to their everyday lives.

Or so I thought.

What made the science fairs at my son's school totally suck back then was the fact that most kids' projects were done by their PARENTS for them, in the hopes of winning first prize. Very few were done by the kids themselves and very few kids had actually learned anything, as their parents had shunted them aside to make the perfect project for them.

As for me, I'd rather see a science fair actually done by the kids themselves, however makeshift or primitive they would look. At least then the kids would be actually learning something and meeting the goal of why schools hold these fairs in the first place.

I made my son do his projects himself, knowing full well he had no chance in hell of ever winning the prize. But he damned sure learned something about science doing these projects, which made him the winner in my book.



Kathy said...

I think I went to a crappier school than your son. I don't recall science fairs, per se. We did have some events where we could display our creativity by building something, just not science-related. Anyway, we would have to make it ourselves and however awful it looked, at least it was ours! Helicopter parents start early, don't they?

Winter said...

No science fairs for my kid except when she went to a science magnet school in Brentwood (a block from where Nicole Brown Simpson died), and then the kids were paired up and had to work on them in class. It effectively kept the parents out of it. Was probably a good way to do these things.