Let’s get right to the subject.
A lot of parents are having the same feelings: Could they pull their child from school and have them learn just from the internet alone?
As you know, parents are frustrated.
Can you blame them?
Now, we have “Education Reform” books crowding Amazon’s top ten lists right along with Fifty Shades of Grey.
Education reform is hot!
Anyway. The alternative is simple: Pull lil’ Johnny and lil’ Suzi from school and plug them into the matrix (internet of course).
Khan Academy will surely turn them into an astronaut.
Wikipedia will make them the next Ben Franklin.
And YouTube will … um, let’s keep the kids clear of YouTube.
You get my point.
Is the internet the solution to our frustrations?
It’s not that easy. The overabundance of information is one obstacle to overcome.
Now, just because there’s too much information doesn’t mean the alternative is no internet at all.
You see, there’s this perception, if you have this huge body of knowledge like Wikipedia, people everywhere will become smarter because of it.
(I’m sure that perception also existed when the first encyclopedias became available at home).
And since this hasn’t happened, we think, “Aha! This proves people essentially can’t learn on their own.”
And who are you to question the status quo?
Well, you should question it.
This article by John Taylor Gatto let’s you know why.
But then you hear about progressive schools like Montessori. Where a student’s individual capabilities are assessed and then each child builds their own learning path.
I’ve seen a product of these schools (an amazing little 8 year old girl).
But you know what?
Her parents are very active in her education.
If they didn’t need to go to work to pay the bills, I believe, she would be just as successful schooled from home. Online.
But, as you probably know, the internet makes it impossible for a child to know where to start. And it’s not Facebook.
In other words, the internet would need to be curated by someone.
“Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company” – John Taylor Gatto Retweet
Are parents up for this job?
Isn’t that what schools do for our kids, they curate information. Right?
Listen, smart people have already thought about homeschooling. And they’ve created avenues for young students to access full curricula―to be able to study exclusively online.
Check out Johns Hopkins University and their K-12 online courses.
Parent + Internet = Efficient Teaching?
Do most parents love their child? I think so.
Do most parents care if their child is educated? Sure.
Are some parents uncomfortable disciplining? Hmm.
What’s the point of this? Glad you asked.
I think, there are parents who’d prefer to avoid the negativity associated with disciplining. And a lot of teaching is creating a disciplined environment.
It may be more comfortable leaving the teaching to the “professionals”.
But don’t be intimidated if you’re not a “teacher”.
It seems to me the real hurdle is effort.
Get this. We’re living in a time when 54% of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television.
The average child (in the US) spends 24 hours a week watching TV.
That’s A LOT of time to tap into.
Keep reading, this is important.
Dad and the curse of knowledge
Let me share a personal story.
My Father had ZERO patience.
Our homework time would end with me in tears.
He didn’t realize that sometimes giving me some space (to reflect) would be a good thing.
I think he felt personally responsible if I didn’t understand something―as if it was the fault of his explanations.
As a result, sometimes he pushed too hard.
In fact, my father suffered from the “curse of knowledge”. Something Dan and Chip Heath discuss in their book How to Make it Stick.
The Heath brothers say the minute you learn a task, you’re almost unable to put yourself back into the mindset of somebody who did not know how to execute that task—that’s why so many of us are such poor teachers.
So, I forgive you Dad.
But my Father didn’t have access to tutorials for 6 year olds struggling with math. You do.
The internet as a supplemental resource
Now, there are factors that contribute to learning online. And learning in general.
We’ve seen things, like the Khan Academy, working well when it is used with classroom instruction.
And, that’s what Khan is doing right now, he is engaging with schools.
The goal isn’t to eliminate schools. Because that structured environment and peer support is actually very beneficial (plus most parents can’t afford to stay home with their kids).
What schools are doing is using Khan Academy as an education and homework supplement. Maybe it’s being used even more than that―but you get my drift.
Remember what I said about my Dad? You do. Good.
Unlike my Father, today’s parents can tap into internet resources to keep the learning happening at home.
You and I both have access to teachers who are fluent in Algebra. And who are giving tutorials (FOR FREE).
You know what’s cool? Now child and parent can view several approaches to the same problem and choose the one that feels most natural―the one that makes most sense.
The point is this. It’s less intimidating if you have direction (a learning goal).
Determining what is relevant―at what stage―is important.
Your child could be left to determine this on their own, or with the help of a teacher, but parents should not be afraid to jump in.
It’s better than doing nothing. And you’re not alone.
Resources to get you started
The social network for those interested in Web 2.0, Social Media, and Participative Technologies in the classroom.
Johns Hopkins University: CTYOnline
Each year, thousands of students in Pre-K to 12, from more than 60 countries, enroll in CTYOnline, CTY’s unique distance learning program that offers challenging courses throughout the year.
Learn in Freedom!
It shows you how to use your own initiative in learning, so you can use schools and teachers just when they are helpful to you, and voluntarily chosen by you.
A not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.
BC Homeschool Association
The BC Home School Association is a registered society in the Province of British Columbia endeavoring to inform, support and encourage families choosing to provide their child with a home based education.
You have choice in the kind of environment your child is educated in.
Children should be aware of (and get) the support they deserve.
You can take action regardless of your own experience.
Now here’s what I want you to do…
As you know, I spent quite a lot of time writing this article for you to reflect on.
If you could help me out by sharing it on Twitter or Facebook, I would appreciate it… a lot!
Also, have you had any experiences with home schooling? Or have you used the internet as a homework resource? Leave a comment.
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