Thursday, May 27, 2010

Senior Project??

Their senior project is to graduate!

Who came up with the whole idea of a senior project?  It's absolutely ridiculous.  What's more, I can't tell you the number of public school parents who must assume senior projects are required by the state for graduation.  At least that's what I have to assume based on the number or parents who ask me (knowing we homeschool) what my girls are doing for their senior projects.  They're all astonished when I tell them the girls aren't doing senior projects, and then I always have to reassure them that the girls can indeed graduate without having done one.  The next question is always, "How?"  Welllll, because WE are the school administrators/superintendents/educators/(for that matter, janitor, school nurse, lunch lady, principle, guidence counsellor...) and as such we are the ones who get to decide the requirements for graduation from our school.  And senior projects are not required; why? because they're nonsense.  Let me give you some examples:
1)The senior project has nothing whatsoever to do with the child's education.  It in no way shows whether or not the child has passed his courses.  What's more, at least in our area, it doesn't matter whether or not the child passes every single one of his/her courses, if they don't succesfully complete their senior project, they don't graduate.
2)They only get one shot at the offical presentation (yes, I know there are a number of steps to go through up to that point, but still...), if they fail to present it properly they have to go back to school for at least one more semester...and another attempt at a completely diferent project.
3)The project has nothing whatsoever to do with what the child may be interested in as a career.  Case in point - the son of the man my younger brother works for (who happens to go to the same school as Superman): his first submission was on coaching, which is what he wants to go to college for - this boy REALLY wants to be a coach.  His first submission was rejected.  His second submission was for welding/machining - his father owns a welding/metal fabricating/machine shop, if, for any reason, he can't become a coach, his obvious fallback (and something he already works in part-time) is welding/machining - a very useful skill.  This submission was also rejected.  I can't even remember what his final choice was, but it has nothing to do with whatever he may do later in life.
4)Not all schools, even within the same county, require a senior project.  This is grossly unfair to the kids who do go to a school that requires them.  They have to do the work on a computer - hard for kids who don't have a computer, and no, there are no exceptions.  They have to invest a certain amount of money in it for supplies - hard for kids who have parents that are on a tight budget (IMHO this is why all schools don't require them-not to offend anyone here, but one of the schools in our district that doesn't is in the lowest income area of town).  Some of the schools require a certain number of community service hours that are somehow related to the topic of their project - hard for the kids (and their parents) who don't have their own car.
My cousin's daughter's senior project was on fashion.  Fashion?? Really??  What's more, I havn't the faintest idea what the community service work portion of her project could have been.  And no, she doesn't now work in some fashion related job.

It took Superman several tries (well into his second semester) to gain approval for his senior project.  He's had to arrange for time on a computer at school-mostly after (some before)  school when he could have, and would have preferred to be working.  He's spent many hours at the library working on the computer there (we would have gladly allowed him to work here, but we live almost a half-hour away, spending all that money on gas wasn't an option).  He's not only lost work time, and the resulting paycheck, but he's had to spend money on the project; money that could have definately been better utilized.

So let's see.  Should I require my children to spend copious quanties of time, money, and effort on something that;
A)doesn't really show whether or not they have sucessfully completed their studies,
B)doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with what they want to accomplish in their lives?
Nope.  I think not.
Call me a rebel.  Doubt the sufficiency of my children's education.  That's okay because I question the sanity of anyone who doesn't fight tooth and nail to abolish a graduation requirement that in no way represents the child's education, especially since the establishment that is requiring such an inane activity is continuously cranking out some of the most illiterate, "educated" people on the planet, despite their having completed a senior project.  If they feel they need some sort of bench-mark the kids must pass before completing their education (if passing one's courses isn't enough), then go back to the competency test.  That was one of the requirements for graduation when I was in school, and I remember the controversy around having that as a requirement. Personally I never understood why anyone would suggest that it was unfair to have that as a requirement since questions on the test revolved, for the most part, around such everyday, simple tasks as looking things up in a dictionary or phone book, or balancing a checkbook. At least those really are things people should/need to know how to do.

BTW - In no way do I mean to suggest that homeschoolers should be required to pass such a test.  The parents are the school administrators and as such should have the right to decide what their children must do to graduate their school.  Things such as the senior project just make me that much more happy that we homeschool.  I would have a major problem with my children being required to complete something I felt was such a huge waste of time, and such an immense inconvience. 



  1. Hi Becky,
    I have never heard of the Senior project! Obviously not an Aussie innovation. I have always found it a stretch to get through the required academic work so I imagine any extras would be very hard. Hope your young friend manages okay.
    Have a good weekend.

  2. We do not do senior projects in IL --at least I've never heard of people talking about them--homeschooling or otherwise. It must be your state. I can see some benefit in them if the child has never done anything like that before, but it might also be kind of burdensome if it is done purely for a requirement.

  3. Hi Rudby - Superman found out today that he passed his project. I'm very happy for him.

    Hello OM - It may only be NC, but even at that it's not all NC schools, or even all schools within a particular system/jurisdiction which is one of the reasons I think it's so unjust. It seems to be an arbitrary decision by certain schools, and the decisions regarding steps required within the project often seem arbitrary as well. It's one of the complaints by students and their parents alike.

    Again, glad I'm not having to deal with it.