Are Traditional Schools Doomed?
Traditional brick and mortar schools are doomed. There is a better way, and that better way is online schools. While I know that some will argue that online education lacks that “personal” touch, and inspiration that only a gifted teacher can give, I think those people are underestimating how closely an online teacher can interact with students. These online teachers get to know their students extremely well. There are no distractions from discipline, crowd control, appearance, nationality, or social class. In short, online teachers focus like lasers on the student’s mind, and performance.
I just enrolled my step-daughter in an online high school. She was prepared to drop out of high school. The high school that she was attending had about 3000 students. It was so huge that when I peered down the hallways, I could barely see the opposite end of the hall.
She was anonymous. She was a brick in the wall: a statistic. My daughter’s personal dilemma at her public school began when she started making the honor roll. She is not dumb. Not that grades in these public schools mean that much. Grade inflation has affected most schools, and is a well known problem. She made the honor roll, and them failed the state exams. Her dilemma was that she had gotten everything that she could from her public school, and that was simply not enough.
The crux of the issue, as I see it, has to do with the traditional classroom, and a misguided attempt to correct achievement problems with draconian testing regimes. “No child left behind” is not the answer. The answer is a structured and programmed instruction that allows each student to learn at his/her own pace in each subject.
These instructions should be self paced, and advancement from one lesson to the next should not happen until the student masters the element that he/she is working on. Every student is unique and has individual learning speeds in different subjects.
“No child left behind” is an all or nothing barrier to advancement through the grades and to a diploma. Being held back a full grade is extremely demoralizing for a student. My daughter was held back twice prior to high school. Her early failures occurred because of her English. She is Vietnamese, and was behind native English speakers when she started school here. These discouragements come with a huge cost to students. Her friends left her behind. She had to repeat areas that she had already mastered. School immediately became a drudge. She was older than her new classmates, and began to appear “out of place”. Being out of place in public school is the kiss of death due to the social pressures that adolescents and children put upon each other.
“No child left behind” has exacerbated racial, and social divisions. It has become a method of sorting students into success and failure categories based on their backgrounds. Those who claim that every child has an “equal chance” to pass or to fail those exams are not seeing the elephant in the room. Factors outside of the classroom have massive effects on learning, and school performance.
I chose an online school that fit my situation. Everyone should shop around. The shopping is not easy, however. It was confusing for me. There are more than 200 distance learning schools to choose from. Some are fakes that give diplomas with no studying. Don’t waste your money on those. I chose a medium priced private online school. It has a strong curriculum, and good accreditation. I did not choose an online school that was hooked to the public school system because the “no child left behind” testing would still be required. I don’t have a “cookie cutter” child. She is creative, and finds her own ways forward.
The school I chose was National High School. Take care in choosing a good school that is right for your situation. Ed Desmond