Cyber school over classroom

Online education might be OK for college students, but fully online K-12 is detrimental to young minds

Imagine your first day of kindergarten. But you’re not in a bright, colorful room full of posters with the alphabet, numbers, toys, picture books and 15 other kids your age. There are no sing along songs. No group activities. No arts and crafts. No recess. No coloring or learning to draw or read with your peers.

Instead, you sit in a room by yourself and stare at a computer. And that’s where you will stay for the rest of your day. And every day after, until you call yourself a “high school graduate.”

Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is. But that doesn’t make it any less real. I recently saw a commercial for fully online school, K-12. But don’t worry, it gets even better. The organization that runs this little shindig is completely for profit. So parents pay this for profit institution and the public school loses funding. If you don’t already know why else this is such a terrible idea, let me elaborate.

It’s easy to see why young children in fully online school is a joke. The elementary years are all about interaction–learning to share and work with students and be an acceptable human being for your age. It builds the basic motor skills and the foundations of each discipline that will be used to advance students into higher learning.

Kids need interaction to make this learning successful. They need the guidance of adults and the reinforcement and encouragement of teachers willing to shape young minds and to learn new things in a way that is fun, engaging and relatable. Fully online learning will foster none of that.

It doesn’t end with elementary school. Even middle school and high school are more about learning to think critically, work in teams, learn good study habits and be a responsible, accountable adult.

That’s why electives are so great. A student choosing yearbook or journalism as an elective might not make him an expert on the English language, but it will teach him to meet deadlines and be a contributing team member. A student taking an art class over a math class may not be the next Einstein, but will learn to be creative and innovative, two indispensible traits.

As schools eliminate electives and move toward implementing four years of strict disciplines (Math 1, Math 2, Math 3, Math 4; English 1, English 2, English 3, English 4), they are making robots. Some of these disciplines (in which students find no interest) take out the intrinsic love of learning and hinder students from finding and then following their strengths, loves and ideas about a possible future career. Not to mention it fails to focus on what’s truly important about a K-12 education as I discussed earlier.

So with this movement, the fully online school truly doesn’t surprise me. What cracks me up is that the ad for the online school states it will “eliminate the distractions of the classroom.” That’s what it’s all about though–learning to interact with those “distractions” and work with them. Though there may be a few very rare cases of students who truly cannot take the outside disturbances or have very serious social phobias, any parent with a “normal” child would be a fool to enroll their children in a fully online K-12 “school.”

I hope that with our very technological generation, we never lose sight of the importance of an in-class education for our furture children. Think about how (despite convenience) frustrating online classes can sometimes feel, and then imagine a five year old trying to learn solely that way for the next 12 years of his life.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think a generation of children schooled fully online is a scary one to think about.