Is Online School All It’s Cracked Up to Be? Spoiler Alert: Yes, It Is
I challenge you to think outside the box and accept that social skills are much more complex than looking someone else in the eye and shaking their hand. Since ‘rona came around, even that isn’t socially acceptable, so let’s just say things change.
Parents, families, and most importantly people who do not have kids, assume homeschooled children are not the best example of people who know how to socialize.
This is generally assumed because homeschooling is perceived to lack the social environment associated with traditional schools.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Are There Actually Any Benefits of Online School?
Compared to the boys I know who were sent to an all-boys boarding school, I’ve found that homeschooled kids have a lot more to talk about.
It’s obvious that not all children experience the same kind of upbringing. The way they experience the world is totally nuanced, depending on where they live, the cultures they’re exposed to and the people they are surrounded by.
So when it comes to homeschooling or unschooling versus public or private schooling, how much of a difference does it actually make?
From personal experience, students who attend school during the day and only see their parents from 6 pm to 10 pm at night, generally do not know how to converse with other adults. For starters, government-based education is based on the idea that the teacher teaches and the learner learns. All of this while the learner is being static.
I don’t know about you, but if someone just talks on and on about something, I tend to get bored. But, if I attend a cooking class or I am forced to paint a wall, I actually do it.
I observe how it is done, I try it myself and do one terrible or terrific job. After that, I get an opportunity to learn from the experience and try again.
Or in North West’s case, become a well-renowned artist because she learned from the best.
I’m not going to show you a picture of the wall but let’s just say that people learn when they are actively involved in any project.
In a traditional school environment, students are expected to passively absorb information, rather than to actively engage with topics and ideas. This helps to foster skills like critical thinking and problem-solving.
Students also learn to say no to adults or to correct them, without being rude. Like when a student explained to me the purpose of a buoy. I should add that this student lives on a boat and travels the world, quite frequently too.
She also had the confidence to tell me how it should be pronounced and everyone in the group benefited from this.
Breaking Down Barriers Through Online Education
As mentioned previously, there are many factors that can impact a child’s worldview, as well as how they interact with others and their environment.
In fact, this is something that psychologists and philosophers have spent years working to better understand.
The Sapir Whorf Hypothesis is based on the assumption that one's language can influence the way one views the world. Philosopher John Locke focused on the fact that everyone is born with a clean slate, therefore your linguistic abilities are formed based on your surroundings.
It is due to mimicking, echoing, or imitating that we’ve acquired linguistic abilities.
For instance, in German, you learn about ‘die’ (feminine) ‘der’ (masculine), and ‘das’ (neutral) as appropriate pronouns for most things. In English, we often talk about policewomen and male nurses to help people understand, instead of just saying, nurse or police personnel.
How awkward is that?
In the same way, each language has its neologisms based on foods, cultural traditions, holidays, occurrences… the list goes on and on.
These are known as untranslatable words, they are deemed that way because the word was created or born in this language, and trying to translate it will refute its meaning.
Therefore, it’s clear that kids are inevitably influenced by their surroundings, the languages they hear, and the way people around them think. How wonderful is it to have a world schooling community to broaden our horizons?
When your education is not limited to a physical or geographical location, there is so much more to learn, explore and experience.
Before Galileo, I never thought to learn about another person’s language or cultural background, but working with people gives you that sense of empathy and the curiosity to understand why people express themselves in a certain way.
If we were to take only this hypothesis and apply it to Galileans, I’d say kids with some worldschooling exposure are pretty knowledgeable about many things. Additionally, they are not afraid to help others with technical difficulties.
If online teachers were asked to write down all the things they learned from their students, I bet that list would be endless. If the list of new things learned and the number of times someone had to say ‘’unmute’’, had to be compared, what do you think the result would be?
Is Online School All Rainbows and Sunshine?
There’s no one ‘right’ way to do education. It’s totally dependent on the individual child and what their specific needs and desires might be.
However, to say that online education is inherently ‘worse’ than traditional school couldn't be further from the truth.
Online education offers children the opportunity to self-direct their own education, without limiting them to a pre-planned curriculum. They’re empowered to make their education what they want it to be, and learn valuable life skills in the process.
When discussing all of the online school benefits, students and parents answered some questions about socializing online.
Take a look at a parent’s opinion about her son: “He's dogged, very motivated, has great problem solving and logical skills. He knows how to do research, he is growing in independence, and he’s able to absorb and understand complex ideas. He's definitely benefitting in lots of ways’’
So, are there downsides?
Some students shared that they sometimes miss the presence of other kids and that making new friends can be a bit tricky. This might be the downside of online learning, and why the local dojos are so important.
There are plenty of students who enjoy meeting new people, with that said, their parents’ lifestyle or geographical location allows for and encourages these face-to-face opportunities.
Students mentioned that it is easier to talk to someone online because they don’t really know one another, but this makes it a little awkward to make friends in real life.
Okay…But What About the Screen Time Dilemma?
First of all, are you spending time with your kids outside? Second of all, if you do, I hear sunscreen is a real freckle stopper. Every sport has its injuries, if you’re looking for a way to solve the screen-time dilemma… our inspirEd blog just happens to have a suggestion. Here’s Tips and Advice for Solving the Healthy Screen Time Dilemma.
The parent needs to be the example, thereafter, the student will take an interest in things if the student likes them.
The same way you do not like jogging, instead, you prefer going for a brisk walk, your child is entitled to choose. But the example starts with you.
Setting boundaries, wearing glasses to prevent blue screen eye strain, stretching legs in between computer time, and looking at the window to blink your tired eyes are all things kids can learn to do.
In the same way that you’re empowering our children to direct their own learning, you should also be empowering them to set their own limits and boundaries.
And if the consequences of screen time are explained to kids, they will learn to moderate their intake. Just like kids can say they’ve had enough ice cream (I still struggle with that as an adult) they might realize they’ve had enough screen time.
Have a look at these guidelines to discuss screen time management with your child.
Combatting the Socialization Dilemma Through Student-Led Clubs
Why not let the students take the reins when it comes to their socialization? At Galileo, we’ve found that one of the best ways to help learners connect with one another is through student-led clubs.
This encourages them to take initiative, share their interests and passions, and find common ground with other learners.
Of course, we are there to guide them, provide a platform for interaction and help with zoom links since technology is not always our friend. But, nevertheless, after students get the hang of it, they operate and manage their clubs completely on their own.
These are the requirements for student-led clubs:
- Students follow the steps of filling in a form and creating a video for their club to invite other students.
- Their student-led club then gets approved by one of the facilitators at Galileo. It goes without saying that most clubs are approved since students go the extra mile with creatively recorded introduction videos.
- After that, students have the responsibility of posting on the student’s lobby message board. This serves as an announcement of their club and by posting this, other students get to sign up.
- Once the student-led club has five signed-up participants, they are good to go!
- After all this, students are given a guide via loom videos on how to post the event on the student dojo, how to convert time zones, and how to create a recurring zoom link! These are all skills most adults haven’t mastered yet and we are living in the year 2021.
What Actually Goes On In These Clubs?
At Galileo, our students have started and maintained a number of clubs such as history, mystery, and mythology club to discuss and uncover the past, a culinary club to explore different cuisines, and a writing club to improve their literacy skills and tell their stories in a poetic and enlightened manner.
The students even started their own Galileo Student Magazine called the Boredom Buster.
The clubs slowly advance to a mixture of gaming and what most adults would deem educational content. I’m referring to chess, nature club, animation club, coding club and so much more!
The responsibility of the club itself is not only big, but it requires passion and time. Social skills develop due to interest and curiosity. If you think about it, adults are exactly the same.
They only participate in hobbies when they are extremely passionate about it or when they realize it’s an opportunity to get to know more people. Of course, they learn new tricks of the trade, but that goes without saying when joining any club or participating in any activity. You improve your skills and you get to share this newfound wisdom with a group of like-minded people.
The skills students develop when leading or participating in these student-led clubs are ownership, curiosity, and an understanding that you have to show up to maintain something.
Much like being part of a social club at a school, your attendance is required to keep your spot. Students also learn leadership skills and soon realize that their passion has the ability to inspire others.
What does any parent want for their child or children?
They want them to grow up to be fully functioning adults, they want them to adapt to change and they want their kids to have fun. If Among Us didn’t indicate an element of fun to you, you are probably the imposter. Bye!
Are You Interested in the World of Self-Directed Online Learning?
At Galileo, we help to empower families on their own journey of self-directed learning. We have a supportive international community of families and facilitators that help bring this mission to life.
With Galileo’s online education program, kids get to choose their friends, they spend more time with their parents at home and they get to choose the sports, activities, and learning modules that interest them. Could this be any more self-directed?
If you’re curious about what a self-directed Galileo student’s life looks like, have a look.