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Thursday, November 7, 2013

How Important Is Online Education? Mother's Response.

Hello again Lovely Internet People!  I was doing some research yesterday and I came upon a YouTube Channel Called "Talk" .  In the last month their channel has done a series of videos talking about the importance of online education, and whether or not it could, or even should, take over from our current classical education model.  I think I have a slightly different perspective on this issue than the folks at "Talk", so I wanted to share some of my thoughts on this issue.

Those of you who have followed along here for any length of time already know that I am a HUGE fan of online education.  I am a HUGE fan of pretty much all forms of learning, because I know for a fact that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning. We do not all learn all things in the same way.  Even within a single individual there are major differences in each person's learning style for each subject they might attempt to learn.  I don't learn new math concepts in the same way I learn new facts about history, the processes are very different.

My husband envisions a future where all learning is done via computers, with teachers only being available for answering questions or providing oversight.  I don't know if this is the best answer for everyone, and I certainly do not believe that all subjects can be taught exclusively on the computer.  But I do believe the option should be available for those who could benefit from it.

I don't think the answer is to replace our school system with all online learning, but I do think our current system needs some major overhauling.  There are many valuable lessons beyond academics that can be taught in our schools, but at the moment we are teaching the wrong ones.  

In her interview with John Stewart on the Daily Show, Malala Yousafza talked about all the things that children should be learning in school, beyond the subjects they are being taught.  Things like how to get along with one another, how to treat other people, how to cooperate and collaborate with others, all of these things are vital lessons in the development of a child, and a community.  Unfortunately, these are not the things that I see being taught in our schools in this country. We seem to be teaching the exact opposite.

Okay, I hope we maybe can all agree that these aspects of education are very important to the functioning of our society.  Maybe the reason our society is in the mess it is in is because we have neglected teaching these valuable lessons in our schools. My question is this, is there no other way to learn these lessons than in a school setting? And to me it seems that the answer is a resounding, NO.

I am a strong proponent of online education because I believe it does more to level the playing field of our world than any school system ever could.  Of course it does require access to the internet, which may be as unattainable as a classroom education for many people around the world, but for those who can access it, a whole new world has opened to them that they never even knew existed before.  

Education is not something that can be contained within the walls of a classroom.  Life is education.  Whether we like it or not, most of us learn something new every day, long after we have finished our formal education.  Any person who believes that learning must take place in a classroom, and must be tested to be verified, is missing out on 90% of the learning they could be doing.

I have mentioned before that I home school my kids. I do so for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I believe it provides them with a better opportunity for their education.  They work at their own pace, and they control the flow of information that they consume.  My son, who technically should be in 6th grade this year, according to his age, is taking two High School Advanced Placement level classes (American History and Environmental Science) online and doing quite well in them.  They would never let him do that in a regular school!  About 80% of my children's "school work" is done online each day, but only about 20% of their learning is done there.  Learning happens everywhere, if you allow it to happen.

Personally, I love online education because of all it has given me.  I have finally found a way to learn about any subject I could possibly want to know, without having to haul 100 pounds of books home from the library every week!  That is a tremendous weight off my shoulders, literally and figuratively.  I have always been a self educator, I learned early on that the school system could never keep up with me, so I took on the responsibility.  And for decades I did lug dozens of books home from the library every week.  When I got my first library card at age 5 I asked the librarian how many books I was allowed to check out at a time.  The silly lady told me that I could take whatever I could carry!  She apparently had no idea just how much an extremely determined little girl was capable of carrying! 

I would have to say that online education is one of the greatest gifts of the 21st century.  Whether it is in a formal setting, such as taking actual online courses through a University, or an informal setting such as YouTube, the abundance of information now available at the click of a mouse is staggering.  But it can also be very dangerous.  There is no system of accountability online.  Anyone can post anything they want to post, whether it has any basis in fact or not is not relevant.  So online learning requires a lot more vetting of the information gathered to ensure its legitimacy.  But this is also an extremely valuable skill that everyone would do well to develop since such a large percentage of the "information" we are flooded with on a daily basis is in fact false.  Whether it comes from the TV news, advertisers, or even our own government, there is so much false information being shoved down our collective throats every day that it is often hard to have a rational discussion with people because they are too busy defending their false information to spend even one moment looking for the truth.  And that is sad.  Very, very sad.

Until Next Time ...

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you 1000 + % You are right on the mark concerning education for all