Friday, June 10, 2005

Instruction as if students mattered

My friend Melanie and I have been talking about this over at her blog and elsewhere. She relates the story of a child she knew who never fit in at school and eventually committed suicide. Now granted, I don't have all the answers -- maybe none of them -- but it seems pretty obvious that schools aren't really meeting the needs of a great many students.

Then today I read Darren's post with a link to an article about Pennsylvania's virtual charter school. The article stresses the way instruction is individualized. The article quotes Sharon Williams, the Middle School Principal, as saying
it provides another model of how to learn, especially for students who may have problems fitting into public school.
Seeing as how there are many students who fit into that category, I really hope the virtual model works for them.

But of course, there were critics of the model, people like a school superintendent who used the old argument:
What you won't get is any socialization.
and another who said
Students who take classes online also miss developing friendships and ways to deal with adversity.

I feel strongly that socialization in schools is part of the probelm, not any kind of solution. Not always, of course. But for those students who don't fit in for whatever reason, subjecting them to more of the same isn't going to help matters at all. Many of them haven't formed friendships in school, and they haven't really learned to deal with adversity, either.

So I say, best of luck to this virtual school and to brick and mortar schools that approach their job differently, like Bud's school seems to do. What we have been doing hasn't worked for many, many children. We need to try something else, probably lots of something elses.


Anonymous said...

This is a tough issue. I have seen first hand the importance of socialization with peers, but I also know at least one student who had been so traumatized by bullying at school that she wouldn't go back to any school. Her only option to get an education was through cyberschool.

Anonymous said...

Education slowly is beginning to adapt to the variety of needs of students, accepting different ways of learning and providing appropriate instruction. As a teacher, I have witnessed both the positives and negatives of peer socialization at schools. I have also have had the pleasure to work with full-time cyber school/correspondence students and found that they were not suffering socially in anyway; quite the contrary! I think it is time that parents/teachers looked at the needs of the children and customize their educational programs so that they best suit the needs of the child.