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Wed Jul 8, 2020, 03:56 PM

Here's a thought experiment regarding schools

My son is a young adult and has been out of school for a while so the issue of re-opening schools doesn't impact me on an immediate personal level. And to be clear, I'm not sure what the big picture solution is for our education systems. What I do know is that if we send the kids back to the schools, we'll experience additional spikes of Covid-19. But if we continue with the ad hoc online lessons, our kids won't learn effectively and they'll lose the social lessons schools can provide. So, what follows is simply a mental exercise. (To be totally open, I have no affiliation or personal experience with the education program I'll reference.)

In the late 1980s, I met a family of four who had spent more than ten years sailing around the world on their 50-foot sailboat. Their stories and adventures were fantastic and the closeness of the family and the poise and erudition of the two daughters were remarkable.

When they set sail, the girls were in elementary school and to continue their education, they enrolled in a home schooling program designed and supervised by the University of Nebraska. This program is accredited by Cognia (formerly AdvancED) and the Nebraska Department of Education and their AP courses are approved by the College Board. There are other similar programs and they are all first-class.

The lessons are integrated among the various educational disciplines to create an educational continuity. Coupled with their traveling experiences, I was amazed at the breadth and depth of the girls' educations. They continued their home/sailboat schooling through high school and both were admitted to excellent universities upon their return to dry land.

I was curious to discover that the University of Nebraska program was old, comprehensive and very successful. It was started in the 1920s to provide education for farming families who lived too far away for regular schooling. Their programs require adult supervision and I believe that written papers and tests are sent back to the University for review by teachers.

From a quick skim of their website, it appears to be kind of expensive: $250 for a one semester/5 credit course and $450 for a two semester/10 credit course. When you consider a proper curriculum entails 4-7 classes, the tuition can escalate quickly! In addition, books and materials cost extra. If anyone is interested, here's a link:

https://highschool.nebraska.edu

On the other hand, the recent past has shown that remote learning through Zoom, etc. is of limited benefit. There are many disciplines that cannot be effectively taught online. Student supervision has been a big problem for many teachers. The solutions to these issues are elusive. If I had to make a choice today, I would seriously consider one of these university directed programs. It would be a considerable commitment in time and treasure but it would provide a superior education to the mess we're facing now.

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply Here's a thought experiment regarding schools (Original post)
PJMcK Jul 8 OP
Sherman A1 Jul 8 #1
PJMcK Jul 8 #3
Sherman A1 Jul 8 #6
HotTeaBag Jul 8 #2
PJMcK Jul 8 #4
HotTeaBag Jul 8 #5
PoindexterOglethorpe Jul 8 #7
PJMcK Jul 8 #8

Response to PJMcK (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 04:03 PM

1. Interesting

schooling is going to be changing. Remote learning through Zoom (or whatever platform) along with something as you mentioned in home schooling along with some in classroom or labs will be the future. As to the expense, well. School buildings, campuses, buses and such are expensive to operate and maintain. Costs can be shifted as the transition occurs.

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Response to Sherman A1 (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 04:11 PM

3. Good point regarding the costs shifting

Schooling will definitely be forced to change. Contrary to Trump's idea, education is not going back to what it was 5 short months ago, at least until a vaccine is developed and provided to 350 million Americans.

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #3)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 04:39 PM

6. Even with a vaccine

Companies and institutions are going to figure out that they can get by much cheaper with folks working/schooling at home. The business doesn't need the big office space with lots of cubes, furniture, break rooms, conference rooms, electric, heat and maintenance with all the associated costs when a smaller shared space office area can work just as well at much lower costs and higher productivity. School districts will come to the same conclusion over time and it will be cheaper to provide spaces for labs and some functions but most learning will be done at home or in small groups of students. This was all coming anyway, the pandemic simply compressed the time frame.

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Response to PJMcK (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 04:04 PM

2. That would be a great alternative, but my oldest is just entering Kindergarten

 

so I'd have to find something geared toward little ones.

The worst part of our situation is that when kids are as young as our daughter, the education she would be receiving is secondary to the socialization she'd be missing - she is already pining for her friends but we've been pretty strict about social distancing and she is getting bored and lonely (although she has a little brother that's two years old and while he's fun, he's not as advanced as she is).

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Response to HotTeaBag (Reply #2)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 04:15 PM

4. Younger children's education was one of the biggest problems even before the Covid-19 crisis

Generally, younger children have younger parents who need to work in place of daily child care. Throw in the crisis and parents are screwed in several ways.

The really bigger problem we face is the one you point out about the socialization the kids are missing. Human interactions are critical to learning how to be a member of society.

My best wishes to you for your kids, HotTeaBag!

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #4)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 04:24 PM

5. Yes, we are indeed experiencing the Covid Kid Crisis.

 

Both my wife and I have been out of work since April (though since we worked in NYC with a functioning government, UI has been a lifesaver).

At the same time, parts of this experience have been really wonderful - rather than leaving for work at 7:30am and not getting home until 7:30pm not being employed has allowed us to be an actual family and for that I am thankful in a lot of ways. The kids are really young now and being able to be with them for a couple of months has been great.

But to the point of socialization - there's only so much my wife and I can do, our son is perfectly happy to hang out with us, but our daughter is old enough to have made friends through pre-school and before that day care so she really does miss other kids.

Thank you kindly for the best wishes and I wish them right back at 'cha.

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Response to PJMcK (Original post)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 05:23 PM

7. While this kind of high quality home schooling is wonderful,

but even without the cost involved, a lot of parents wouldn't be able to do this. I live in New Mexico, where we have a lot of students who are "English language learners". At least I think that's the term used here. Which means the parents of those kids have even less English, and would be completely unable to monitor their kids' learning.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #7)

Wed Jul 8, 2020, 05:31 PM

8. You're absolutely correct

Of course, in the public schools, the students who are "English language learners" have unique instruction programs.

The correspondence courses are obviously not a substitute for public education and they're not for everyone. My observations about the education problem our society faces simply caused me to think of what I might do if faced with that challenge. I might be able to afford it but I recognize that many people could not.

Perhaps there's a hybrid system to be developed.

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