The other day a neighbor visited me while I was working in the garden. She wanted to talk about the changes occurring at the local school. Comparing the education she and her husband received with that her children were receiving, she had determined that they were getting an excellent education. Both parents were pleased their children were learning “so much more” than they had.
I had to agree with my friend, that we most often use our own schooling as a standard of measurement for our children’s schooling. I certainly did when my children were young. But is this the best measure for quality in education? I asked the neighbor to consider how the world had changed in the time since she was in school, and the amount of information we and our children have at our finger tips. It seems reasonable to assume that our children would, and should, be learning a great deal more of the concepts and information that took us years to learn. For the most part, children today begin school having access to more information than their parents had. By the time a child has completed one year of schooling that information has almost doubled. When I was in school it took many years for information to change. This provided me and those of my generation a certain consistency that is not available today. Therefore, the same paradigms for learning, that served my neighbors and me, are inadequate for today’s student.
This need to absorb so many concepts and so much information makes the teaching- learning process even more challenging. The Internet offers the opportunity for students to work at their own level, at their own pace, on topics that are of personal interest. Our work at Knowledge Headquarters and eTutor is a continuing effort to assist those we serve to understand and adapt their instructional programs by offering choices for personal learning.
Web-based, online learning gives students a unique opportunity to explore learning and gain knowledge at their own level. Online learning offers a way to stay ahead of the information tide of an expanding knowledge base. Students do not need to be time bound by their learning program. Online education can offer real-time learning for a vast number of subjects and topics focusing on individual instruction. The best online learning programs provide students and their educators flexibility, breadth of content, and multiple ways to engage in the learning process that are necessary for true knowledge to take place. We know that what we learned in school is not enough for the future of our children. We have a responsibility to provide innovative and creative programs based on current technologies that provide students the skills and tools that will ensure them a successful future.
In this regard home schooling is reinventing the idea of school. The integration of knowledge is a personal process, rather than a social process. By viewing school not so much as a place, but the act of learning, those who home school have forced us to look at a new paradigm for schooling. These parents recognize that acquiring knowledge does not need to be a group activity but is often more effective as an individual activity. They know that how they learned is not the best method of learning for their children. Home schooling parents use many different approaches in teaching their children. Among these are online curricular programs, similar to eTutor, that provide a new way of learning for their children.
How we learned and what we learned are not adequate measures of education for our children today. When I hear about educators who continue to teach the way they have for many years, it concerns me. The tried and true teaching methods of the past, that served us well over the years, are not adequate today. We must try harder to challenge our own ideas of education, the teaching-learning process and for evaluating schooling.