The Future of an At-Home Education
Students across this country are stuck at home, isolated from one another, stuck behind the bleak computer screen that presents them with daily assignments. They have no direct human to human interaction, and the only people they have had a direct conversation with are their immediate family members. Many states have started to re-open, but schools remain shuttered for the remainder of the year.
Adding to the frustration, many health experts, including Dr.Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warn of a second wave of the coronavirus in the Fall, jeopardizing the opportunity to send students back to school.
In the case that students do not return to school, the current curriculum will need to change. Current distance learning curriculums have consisted of self-guided book work and have lacked student to student interaction and the intellectual curiosity that is often fostered in a classroom. This leaves students unprepared and unmotivated to learn and pursue their goals.
This brings up the question of what education should look like through distance learning. As stated, it would be difficult and irresponsible to teach from the book; therefore, we should teach in the moment.
Instead of teaching topics directly out of the book, we should find ways to draw parallels from the unique period we are in to a few basic concepts in the textbook. We may not be able to produce the greatest experts during this time, but we can produce good citizens who are prepared to look at problems critically.
In the article “Against School,” the late John Taylor Gatto, an education reformer and former teacher, laid out the primary goals for education as so.
“ 1) To make good people.
2) To make good citizens.
3) To make each person his or her personal best.”
We can make good citizens who are prepared to make changes in society and help them see their potential as change-makers in society. Instead of teaching from the book, students can explore the application of subjects by learning about life-saving drugs in chemistry, to understanding the process to pass a stimulus bill in government, or learning about projections of virus curves in statistics.
Students will engage with the material and understand its importance and will be motivated to learn more about these disciplines and use them to solve problems in our society. This would nurture intellectual curiosity and real-world problem-solving skills; important tools often left out in traditional schooling. For the next school year, we need to ease away from the textbook and educate our students about the world around them.