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Home School Life Journal ................................................................................................................painting by Katie Bergenholtz

What is the Difference Between Middle School Level and High School Level Learning?


This is a question that often comes up, particularly when putting together a plan of study without using any particular curriculum. In the elementary years you are giving your students the overall picture or flavor of the subject. By the middle school years you will begin nailing down the specifics, giving more details to the big picture. By the time the student is in high school, he is ready to begin using reason and discernment to think critically.

This is most easily applied to history,  but if you think about it, critical thinking can be applied to all high school level subjects. To give the framework of critical thinking,  I will begin with its application to history, but I will also touch on how this higher order thinking can be applied across the board.

I have found that students who can analyze historical texts can write better history papers themselves, for they both have the same elements. So, to begin teaching analytic skills, I give my ninth grade student written works that have opposing viewpoints. Students can, by closely looking at the works, learn the methods that were used to express the viewpoints. This will enable the student to determine for himself which is the stronger or weaker argument.

In this series, I will discuss teaching your students about assertions, detecting assumptions,  evaluating sources, reliability of information, the five types of reasoning, analyzing arguments and the parts of an argument. In this way, you and your student can see how high school level studies can be done without a particular curriculum and with little or no cost.

Teaching High Schoolers About Assumptions and Assertions

5 comments:

  1. Interesting - is this sort of based on a classical education?
    We have done the opposite, rather scarily I have to admit, and turned to more unschooling approach for these later years, allowing them to focus on what may one day become their career.

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    1. Well, I guess it is Classical in flavor, isn't it? It is simply what I have found to be the best way to prepare my students for college in the US. Colleges in the UK may be a bit different. I also believe in the Unschooling approach all the way through. I guess my approach is eclectic as I pull from all sorts of ways. I did notice that you did a bit of this type of analysis in the Middle School time period. My students weren't quite ready for it then.

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    2. Well, I guess it is Classical in flavor, isn't it? It is simply what I have found to be the best way to prepare my students for college in the US. Colleges in the UK may be a bit different. I also believe in the Unschooling approach all the way through. I guess my approach is eclectic as I pull from all sorts of ways. I did notice that you did a bit of this type of analysis in the Middle School time period. My students weren't quite ready for it then.

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  2. I look forward to hearing more.
    Blessings, Dawn

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  3. Oh this is going to be really interesting to read. I look forward to reading it.

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