Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Writing Your Kid's Entrance Essay or Who's Essay Is This Anyway?

I've always approached education in a different way than other teachers and parents. As a junior high school teacher, I let the kids actually run the school newspaper. It wasn't pretty and polished, but it was a product of the student's own work. At the end of a semester in my journalism class, kids knew the entire process first hand.

I also let 8th graders with drama experience select plays, hold tryouts, and run wild with the production of the plays that we produced. Once again, life wasn't perfect and tidy, it was messy and trying. The plays in the end were excellent, but there were a lot of fields to plow until we harvested, if you know what I mean.

Now, my own son is writing his high school entrance essays. He is 13.

Flashback to 1st grade when the kids were assigned research reports. My son did all of the research, writing and artwork on his own. He was so proud of his project and we walked into school together that day, carrying his diorama. Two other kids walked in with their parents. Their projects looked like professional architecture presentations for a corporate firm.

I overheard a parent say that he would come in at lunchtime with the computer to set up the power point presentation!


High School admissions directors, I will tell you now: Have the students write their essays when they visit your school. Otherwise, you are getting a familial composite essay at best. Rumor has it that some parents are paying tutors to write their children's entrance essays.

Last night, a mom said that she was going home to write her son's essay. Her excuse was that he just didn't care enough to do it. Does he care enough to do the four hours plus of homework a night if he actually gets into one of these schools?

Parents, are you good enough to write an essay that will get you, um, I mean your kid, into a prestigious private high school?

I don't know what to say... I hope those parents are ready to keep doing all of the homework in that cut throat four years of high school for their kid, too.

Where I come from, you fight fair, you do your own work, and your kids sink or swim on their own merit. Is anyone out there still where I come from? Do I have to play dirty to even give my kid a fighting chance?

If you compromise your morals, in my opinion, what is the point? What are we teaching our kids?

The world is not fair, and yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.


~Jamie said...

Crap, my kids have no chance if they're relying on me. I highly doubt my essay would secure a spot. Guess we're doomed to build a future based on my tax dollars at work with a public education.

And just for the record, I would make my children write the essay, but I doubt my OCD, type A personality would allow me to not make some MINOR edits!

Good luck!

Rae Ann said...

I am SO with you! When I was teaching the Talented and Gifted program in a south Dallas (ghetto) school, I made the kids do all of their research projects on class time so that I could guarantee it was their work.

Richele said...

I agree with you! Your students must have benefitted greatly from a teacher like you. I am sure your son is more equipped than any other with a mom like you. Having your kid do the work teaches them on so many levels. Please let us know what happens!