by Katheryn Rivas
It begins as a small plastic slide. The feeling, when you were a kid, of sitting on top of that backyard play toy (if you were lucky enough to have a back yard or miniature recess equipment) and looking down, with someone assuredly ready to catch you at the bottom. The feeling of pushing yourself off and sliding down, and, afterward, realizing that the journey was not really that long or grueling, so you may as well go again when prompted.
This is the feeling of being in Kindergarten. You’re not sure exactly what to do or why you’re there, but you know what’s expected of you. And, even though there seems to be someone else in control, the entire thing seems a bit unnatural until you do it, only to find it, after all, completely innocuous.
The modern school system is built as a form of prodding and pushing. There is no choice but to follow orders, and there is no choice for parents but to keep their children in school or at least following some form of state-approved education curriculum at home.
It feels strange at first in those early years. But, the slide is made especially low to the ground, and, once you’ve given in a few times, it feels normal.
Then comes the rest of grade school, the horror that is middle school, and the social experiment that is high school. By the time we have reached the end of our thirteen-plus years in the education system, we are numb to it. We are also numb to what we have learned, despite the quiet murmurs of what’s left of our innate interests.
Some of us hold those interests intact and carry them into the rest of our lives, eventually discovering on our own what we think. Many of us lose them forever and fall in line, doing what seems best, easiest or most productive.
Either way, this image of the tight grip, knot in the stomach, let-go-and-slide-down method to education is just not natural.
Human beings learn in a pattern of growth and exploration. The human brain does not need to wait to be fed information to memorize. The brain can learn much more quickly by following its own unique hardwiring. Tampering with this system only dampens the way we learn best.
That is what’s so intriguing about the possibilities of online education, at least to me.
Many schools today are already experimenting with a model of learning that allows children to go at their own pace and to follow the things that most interest them. This may mean that their thirst for math leads them to jump levels beyond what would normally be taught in their grade levels, while they may need more time in English or writing.
This is something that is barely possible within the education system as we know it today. Much of this is due to simple logistics. It is difficult to track the progress of millions of students on a grand scale and make sure they are getting the education they need. With the advent of technology in the education system, however, these problems can be side-stepped.
Computer systems and the use of the internet may introduce methods of education that are better equipped to prepare our children for the realities of the modern world. They may be able to allow more flexibility and provide more stimulation so children can discover their talents and interests from an early age. Cultivating talents, instead of repressing them, could do so much for any society that the possibilities are impossible to quantify.
This is simply an opinion piece, but I thought it appropriate for the readers of this blog.
Sharing the potential of online education is important. Even though most online programs follow the same structure as most traditional school systems, the possibilities are exciting. I am thoroughly intrigued and hope others feel the same.
Katheryn Rivas is a blogger for Onlineuniversities.com. She is passionate about distance learning, global education and the psychology behind learning styles. She is currently a full-time writer and contributes to many online publications. Please feel free to leave comments for Katheryn below!