Friday, May 23, 2008

My Senior Final Exam Question

Two weeks until final exams. Geez I think I only finally got all my students' names right last week. How do you determine in one test how much your students are taking away from your class? Unlike President Bush, I don't feel that one single test can do such a thing, especially for the complex issues and ideas we discuss in my senior class. The closest I've been able to come is this essay question. This is what I gave my seniors about a week ago:

There is an unsettling trend in government today. Politicians have either been making overtures toward replacing the humanities (Art, Music, Literature, etc.) with more “relevant” material (composition and math), or pushing out the humanities with their insistence on copious standardized tests.

Assume that the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has announced that they are going to remove literature from the English classroom and make it straight composition writing, vocabulary, grammar and mechanics. You have the opportunity to write a letter that will be read by the determining body of the PDE. Defend keeping literature in the classroom.

You must use at least one work from each of the periods we covered in class during the course of the year and explain how it is a good example of what literature has to offer our society. You may use your notebooks as reference during the writing. You may not have a prewritten composition when you come to class. Your best bet is to have a well thought out outline of your points when you come in.

A good grade on this final means that you not only did well in this class, but that you have the potential to go out into the “real” world with the ability to think critically and question authority rationally—skills which will enrich your life no matter what your eventual career may be.

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