We’re living in the future

Published by Lori Pickert on September 19, 2011 at 01:57 PM

My guess is that, overall, there is enough content on-line to obtain a world-class education. — Arnold Kling, Schools without Classrooms



Comment by Deirdre on September 20, 2011 at 04:04 PM

Two thoughts.

One, thanks to your site, "grit" is the new word of choice around here. Everybody wants some. Sean our 6 yr old told me he used "grit" to get up after a bad fall, though my 9 yr old tried to explain why he wouldn't help his little brother reach a cereal bowl this morning by saying, "I wanted him to use some grit." :)

Secondly, you've convinced me there is definitely enough content available online. But it makes me wonder about the role of teacher. Content is wonderful, projects are exciting, learning is magic...but I also so value the wonderful teachers I've had in life. And I can't articulate it exactly, but I see the huge influence having a great teacher has on my sons.

I share your hope that our schools will move away from outdated models, but I think the role of teacher will remain in some fashion---perhaps more as mentor? And while a lot can be said and shared online, I think some of that inexplicable magic has to happen in person.

Comment by Jacinda on September 21, 2011 at 10:13 AM

But isn't the point what we do with all this content; how we process and extend all this information into knowledge and expression in our own lives. A "world-class education" isn't just content surely.

Comment by Lori Pickert on September 21, 2011 at 02:06 PM

deirdre, lol, that's awesome. "hey, get some grit, man."

here's what i think about great teachers (and i love them, too) — in public school, you sometimes have them. and they have a huge effect on you. in homeschooling, you have to seek them out. you can cut short the time with bad ones (because, as i'm sure you know, a *bad* teacher can have as strong a negative effect as a great teacher can have a positive one) and move on till you find another great one. hs'ing doesn't mean you don't have teachers. you still take classes, apprentice yourself to experts; you have coaches and group leaders, and etc. etc. etc.

you also learn to seek out what you need from whoever has it, so possibly a peer or possibly just a knowledgable person who can help you learn something you want to learn. a teacher can be a mentor, a facilitator, a guide, a co-learner. so taking advantage of what's online doesn't mean giving up teachers. i would argue, too, that you can have great online teachers — like salman khan at khan academy. he's a greater teacher and very inspirational. and the teachers who are involved in the free online stanford classes this semester. and on and on. although i would never want to give up the great face-to-face relationships with the teachers we've had, of course. i totally agree with you there. :)

jacinda, of course. hopefully the point of all education is what you do with it. i am really interested, though, in the whole college situation — the swiftly rising tuition costs, the studies saying that students don't graduate knowing more than when they arrived. having an entrenched academic say that you can get a world-class education online seems momentous. things are changing.

and i agree that an education isn't just content, but you can learn online and use it. are you thinking of "what we do with all this content" as part of education or what we do "after" we're educated? i think it's both.

i do think the education available online is much more than just content. you can learn and practice skills from watching video lectures. you can learn how to garden and woodwork and knit. you can learn how to speak and write a foreign language. you can take free guitar lessons. it's an amazing world of learning; i don't even want to think about how much i would have loved and used it if it had been available when i was my sons' ages.

Comment by Dawn Suzette on September 22, 2011 at 02:47 AM

This reminds me of the movie Good Will Hunting. One of my favorite parts is when he is talking to the Harvard student in the bar... in the end besting him with the eduction he got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.
The internet is like the library on steriods. We still use the library and we LOVE books but the weath of knowledge found in the web is mind blowing.
There are so many things that individuals can teach themselves but some topics beg for a wonderful teacher. Those are the times you seek out those who can teach you what you want to know in a meaningful way.

Comment by Kelly on September 22, 2011 at 01:33 PM

I think the key thing here is coaches, rather than teachers. I have tied to "teach" my daughter maths (our nemises) with epic failure. When I started coaching her - which I would explain as championing her, encouraging her and holding her up when she is feeling down - things changed.

Content is vast - we use the internet every day in some form to help with our learning. From short videos and flims, to language podcasts. I have often thought that if a person was to listen to BBC Radio 4, for 6 hours a day, for several years, they would end up being well educated! The internet, provided you select carefully, can be an amazing tool.

Comment by Lori Pickert on September 22, 2011 at 01:43 PM

dawn, love love that movie. and that scene. :)

"The internet is like the library on steriods." lol SO TRUE. we use the library constantly but we get most of our book recommendations from the internet.

"[S]ome topics beg for a wonderful teacher. Those are the times you seek out those who can teach you what you want to know in a meaningful way." yes yes yes — this. it is PART of self-directed learning — knowing how to get that help when you need it.

kelly, i don't have a negative connotation with "teach". :) i think it can be synonymous with coach, facilitator, mentor, etc. of course we know it is also sometimes synonymous with lecturer, micromanager, scold...

re: coaching your daughter with math, i was just following a thread on another blog where anti-hs'ing commenters were screeching about HOW can you teach your kids higher math, there's no WAY you are qualified. they completely miss the point that 1, kids can teach themselves, 2, there are abundant online resources, and 3, you can always take a class, hire a tutor, find a mentor...

one of my favorite ways we use the internet is to create community. my boys can make contact with their friends every day, share photos and videos and blog posts, exchange ideas, laugh... i imagine that hs'ing in the country 30 yrs ago could have been a bit isolating but we are in constant contact with friends and people who share our interests. love it.

love your comment re bbc radio! :)

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