High School English & Comparison

Written by Shannon

Today’s subject line was supposed to be “For the Love of Research”, but I’ve been side tracked…

On my own research rabbit trail…

by an article from The Atlantic, titled: The End of High-School English by author and high school teacher,  Daniel Herman.

The premise was that OpenAI’s ChatGPT produces better writing than the average US-based High School student, and what this teacher thinks of that.

Truthfully, the whole ChatGPT buzz irritates me – AI writing assistants aren’t new, just new to the general public.  The buzz feels like a whole “calculators will eliminate math” scenario to me. 🤦

Having used AI writing assistants in my work life for over two years, I can tell you, there’s no threat of that.  But it does provide additional tools that speed up the process, that’s for sure.

But that aside.  What caught my attention in this article is his insights on high school English proficiency levels.

Drawing on his 12 year career teaching at the high school and college level, Daniel Herman shares:

“From my experience, American high-school students can be roughly split into three categories.

The bottom group is learning to master grammar rules, punctuation, basic comprehension, and legibility.

The middle group mostly has that stuff down and is working on argument and organization—arranging sentences within paragraphs and paragraphs within an essay.

Then there’s a third group that has the luxury of focusing on things such as tone, rhythm, variety, mellifluence.

He goes on to say that the majority of students stay in the bottom two levels, struggling to master the basics.   And further discusses his thoughts on how this may change with the new tools.  Turns out he even used a calculator analogy – ha. Didn’t see that until now.

Why, the heck am I sharing this with you? 

Cuz sometimes we need a reality check.  As homeschoolers that comparison trap is so very tricky.  

It’s easy to forget that not everyone is college bound.  Not every one comes out of school writing beautifully or with a love for learning or reading.

In fact, that’s NOT the norm.   That’s why it is special, noteworthy.

But as homeschoolers, we have a gift – to go at our kiddo’s pace, to embrace how they learn and think, and grow their skills in the way that works for them.  And allow them to explore and learn from their own interests and motivations.  

To love learning.
To be confident in sharing their ideas, thoughts, and stories with the world
To wonder, discuss, analyze, dissect, debate, and explore…

And that applies to all the elements of high school English – Writing, Research, Reading, Literary Analysis, etc.

Later in the article, Daniel Herman, shares:

“I believe my most essential tasks, as a teacher, are helping my students think critically, disagree respectfully, argue carefully and flexibly, and understand their mind and the world around them. Unconventional, improvisatory, expressive, meta-cognitive writing can be an extraordinary vehicle for those things.”

Oh this, this we can facilitate in spades. Oh, and I can tell you… the results are gold.

Please. Oh please. If you must play the comparison game… hmm… maybe I’ll just step off my soapbox for now.  

At the end of the day, my stance is always – customize to your kiddo, your family, your methodology, within the laws that apply.  One size doesn’t fit all. 

Please don’t get caught in the comparison trap.


P.S. For the Love of Research did become a post.

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