I feel bad. Bad mother… bad, bad mother.
My daughter is working on a history project called “The Chronical Project”. My son had to do it last year – see the post I did about his project here. To recap – the project is a chronicle of the years of her lifetime – so 1991 – 2006. During those years, she has to pick 12 historical events that happened in her lifetime, and 12 personal events. She has to write about those events, in her own words. She also has to interview an adult (she chose me) about what life was like when they were a kid, and how they percieve things have changed in the world since then. (I feel so… OLD). She needs to write a 2 page introduction and a 2 page conclusion. Then package it all up… scrapbook style with pictures, images, headlines from newpapers, etc in a bound book.
It’s due Friday.
This past Saturday her and I made a visit to the local scrapbook store and picked up some neat supplies that we thought would be fun.
But it’s the conversation I had with her last night that makes me feel so bad now.
One of the topics in the historical event section she chose to write about was the end of the Cold War. She shared her write up with me. And she asked me to critique it – – she really did ask! So, I read it. And then proceeded to tell her the following:
Ok. If you hand it in like this – the only thing your teacher is going to know is that you do a nice job of copying and pasting off the internet. What you need to do is a summary on it that lets your teacher know that YOU understand the topic. You’re writing about the the end of The Cold War – yet you don’t mention any of the following: Nuclear Weapons, The Nuclear Arms Race, Ronald Reagan, Mikal Gorbachev, the Soviet economy, Margaret Thatcher, the Soviet coup attempt, the fall of the Berlin Wall…. All and any of those things included in your summary will give a good indication that you at least understand the topic.
To which she started crying and told me that I made her feel stupid. I felt bad. I still do – even though her and I researched the topic together, I answered some of her questions, explained some things she didn’t quite understand and she wrote a very nice summary that showed her understanding of it now, and she feels so much better for it.
I still feel bad.
I don’t really expect my daughter to have a rich understanding of the topic off the top of her head, but I do expect her to research it and ask questions about it if she doesn’t understand it. Copying and pasting off the internet just isn’t the answer for homework, at all!
I showed her why. I took the statement from her summary and pasted it into Google’s search engine. Here was her statement:
The Cold War was the protracted geopolitical, ideological, and economic struggle that emerged after World War II between a worldwide military alliance of capitalist states led by the United States and a rival alliance of communist states led by the Soviet Union. It lasted from about 1947 to the period leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991. Between 1985 and 1991, Cold War rivalries first eased and then ended.
Now – I know for a fact that my 15 year old daughter doesn’t know what protracted geopolitical, ideological, and economic struggle means. I don’t even have to ask her to explain it. But I did put it into Google and got these results
Yes, sweetie – I like Wikipedia, too. If you don’t think your teachers know how to use Google, or know what Wikipedia is – you’re sadly mistaken. They do know. And they will catch you. And you will fail. All the rest of her summaries on historical events were good… and in her own words. But with this one – she said she didn’t really understand the why’s of the Cold War and she felt pressured by the Friday deadline.
She learned a very valuable lesson. She knows that now. So why do my motherly heartstrings still feel sore after having been told that I made her feel stupid? *sob*