Un-Quantification 2

Let's do some pretending. Imagine that you have just completed a summer vacation full of travel, visiting family and friends, seeing sites, and doing things that one does on holiday. You want to make a record that shows others the experiences and the challenges faced during those times. For the sake of this experiment, you can choose between two options of ways to represent your holiday:

1) I know! We can take a sheet of paper and rate how we did at certain parts of the trip with numbers between 1 and 10. For example, we can assess how well you walked that 5 miles to get a can of fuel when we ran out. We can show how Dad performed rolling the flat tire a mile to the station. And measure your attempt to set up the tent in the rain so we could stay dry. . . It will be great! Think of how precisely this will represent our efforts!

2) Hmmm, maybe we can collect a bunch of tangible items from our trips and display them for others to see. You know, like those pretty bird feathers you found, and the bulletin from our cousin's wedding with our family or pictures of us at the different campsites and national parks we visited,

Which would portray that 2-3 months most fully so that people would understand the experiences you had? The scenario seems pretty inane, doesn't it? But representing the experiences, growth, understandings and development of 12 years in people's lives with numbers on sheets of paper is commonplace.

Over the last few years, universities have unsurprisingly continued to require standardized test scores, but they have also been playing around with things like the Common Application while waffling over whether and/or how to accept portfolios as a legitimate method for accepting candidates. After all, why would you want to let on that people who are lining up to give you hundreds of millions of dollars each year are humans with any sort of value? To add insult to injury, they frequently require people to write stale passages about equally stale topics to show writing ability. Because, you know, most people haven't ever written anything in 12 years of learning. . .

Fortunately, more Bigger Education institutions are seeing that one of the best ways for them to understand the background of homeschooled applicants is through reviewing portfolios. In fact, it almost seems they have some interest in homeschooled applicants. This is a reason you should consider maintaining an ongoing portfolio of your home learning activities. But it is not the only one.

As the hypothetical scenario above hopefully got across, there are many things with much greater value than simple scores that you should be recording. What are some other reasons?

For Yourself

Not only is it a shot in the arm to look back at what you have accomplished and to see how you have progressed, it is a vital record of where you started with hints of where you may be going. You should be able to see the process that has been followed, what has been learned, and the key points of meaning in it all. That means keeping planning documents, outlines, drafts, sketches, research, journal entries and other things related to work like real-world applications, not just final presentation pieces. The portfolio should have action shots of work in progress as well. Much of this merely involves keeping the artifacts in order or recording them, which can be developed as a regular habit.

For Homeschooling

Some states expect evidence of learning for homeschool requirements (not that you didn't already know this if you live in one of them). If you are already keeping evidence of work, a good amount of the effort is probably already done as part of your regular responsibilities.

For the Future

Whether or not you use your portfolio for educational admissions is immaterial. The record of your abilities, accomplishments, experiences and relationships are equally important for numerous purposes. The stereotype is that portfolios are for artists and architects. But in the real market, many people are not interested in the static knowledge that gathers dust in your brain, they are more likely interested in what you can do and how you can do it. A portfolio can show things that scores never could. Personal references, informal and formal qualifications, volunteer experiences, your knowledge of processes and attention to detail, your ethic. These things could all make a great difference in discussions over future opportunities.

When addressed with the question, "What can you do?", it would be a shame for any kid entering the future market to be equipped only with a diploma and a pile of worksheets and reports. "Sorry, computers took over filling out forms and writing reports decades ago." How much worse would it be for a homeschooled kid who should have had greater options?

This is not to encourage everyone to completely ignore the fact that universities look at SAT, ACT scores and the like. Follow what is most relevant to your child and values. But don't let the reductionism most people are subject to define the estate of your kids or you when the opportunity to go far higher is staring you in the face. And especially important, do things that are far bigger than worksheets and reports in the first place. Because you can and should.

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Un-Quantification 2 original article at learningwilds.net

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