THE CHANGING EDUCATION UNIVERSE
The world feels upside down right now. Everything is being “reinvented.” A “new normal” is beginning to emerge. Huge retail businesses are selling off their office buildings and moving their employees to home-based workstations. Residential real estate buyers are looking for larger homes that can accommodate two people working from home full time plus include “classroom space” for their school-at-home kids.
The Center on Reinventing Public Education (https://www.crpe.org/) reports that “[school districts] are showing how school systems can prioritize and support essential skills without backing down from grade-level learning expectations” in an effort to ensure that students not “fall perpetually behind because of school closures and the difficulties of virtual learning.”
As Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s CEO Eric Gordon said: “The old approach wasn’t working before the pandemic, why should we rely on it now?”
One of the interesting things that’s happening is that relocated or displaced employees have rejuvenated a sense of original-thinking entrepreneurial energy across the country. And that “I have an idea” self-motivation is spreading to the homeschooling world.
James A. Bacon, writing on December 29, 2020 for his news feed and blog site, “Bacon’s Rebellion,” cited an article from The Virginia Star that’s a perfect example of the heavy influence the idea of home schooling has made on K to 12 academic models during the now-year-long pandemic. Writing for The Star, Nasiyah Isra-Ul told her story of being part of a family of homeschooled students in the State of Virginia.
When Isra-Ul was just 15 years old, she started developing personalized home school plans for her younger brother who “was constantly bouncing from curriculum to curriculum.” She developed coursework designed to specifically address his academic needs. “I developed a course for him out of what I saw were his strengths,” she said, “and turned that course into an online program for him.”
Before long, she began developing plans for other families in their homeschool group. “Now a college sophomore, she’s launching Canary Academy to bring her programs to families across the U.S., thanks to a $10,000 grant from the National Society of High School Scholars (https://www.nshss.org/ ).” As a result, in May or April of this year, Isra-Ul will open The Canary Academy in an effort to resolve “a major peril of homeschooling, finding courses that work, while also pointing out a great advantage, the ability to customize programs to students’ individual learning styles.” (https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/the-creative-genius-in-homeschooling/ )
Speaking on behalf of Canary Academy, Isra-Ul points out that standard education models view students as all taking the same subjects at the same time and at exactly the same learning pace. Kids that fall behind struggle to keep up. Isra-Ul’s approach focuses on the idea that “homeschooling avoids those pitfalls” through student-oriented learning that “is simply a learning system that follows students’ learning patterns and [adapts] the learning experience in order to fit the way they learn.”
Forbes magazine (Forbes.com) ran an excellent April 21, 2020 article by contributor Mike McShane addressing the changing perception of homeschooling. “Lazy stereotypes of insular religious homeschoolers,” wrote McShane, “are also easily disproven by a cursory look at the data. In 2019, the National Center for Education Statistics published results from a survey of homeschoolers and found that the number one reason for homeschooling was not ‘a desire to provide religious instruction’ (that came in third) or even ‘a desire to provide moral instruction’ (that came in seventh), but rather ‘a concern about school environment, such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure.’ Number two was ‘dissatisfaction with the academic instruction at other schools.’ “
Aaron Hirsh, a contributor to the Center on Reinventing Public Education website, points out that, in 2021, “Homeschoolers – and their motivations – are increasingly diverse. A number of innovations, such as online schools, micro-schools, co-ops and support centers, are enabling this diversity.”
We have recently written about even more diverse homeschooling concepts including hackschooling, gameschooling, hybrid blended learning and nano-school pods. All of these ideas have taken clues from the homeschooling movement and shows that, as Hirsh wrote, “the homeschooling movement has much to teach us about creating more customized and effective school systems. Homeschooling is not a monolith and it is not static; families are hyper-autonomous units with tremendous freedom to create curriculum, redesign typical learning pathways, and build innovative partnerships.” (SOURCE: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED596627 The Changing Landscape of Homeschooling in the United States)
For years, homeschool advocates have been working diligently to provide opportunities for homeschooled athletes to play sports as part of their local public school teams and for other students to participate in drama, band or school clubs. On Wednesday, February 24, 2021, the Washington Times reported that “Home-schooled athletes are one step closer to being able to play on their local public school team after the Senate voted 39-15 to pass Senate Bill 51. The measure lets students in grades 6-12 take part in sports or other extracurricular activities such as band, drama, or school clubs when they take at least one online course facilitated by the public school system.” The bill now moves to the House for approval or non-approval. (SOURCE: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2021/feb/24/senate-seeks-to-let-home-schoolers-play-public-sch/ By JEFF AMY – Associated Press – Wednesday, February 24, 2021What has changed?)
The very description of homeschooling and homeschoolers has changed dramatically based on our current pandemic-led reality of virtually every school-age child in America having had at least some experience in schooling at home. “The nature of homeschooling is changing. The diversity of families opting out of traditional public schools is growing.” Furthermore, “in many states and districts, homeschool students may choose to participate in sports, theater, arts, and other extracurricular activities offered by their local school district while completing core educational curriculum at home.” (https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED596627.pdf ) The homeschool parameters have been extended dramatically in the past twelve months.
The re-definition of homeschooling has caused educators to look more closely at what public schools should be doing in terms of offering more diversity, more independence, and more flexibility through traditional brick-and-mortar education models. “In the future, might public education offer a broader spectrum of offerings and codesign these kinds of portfolios of learning pathways with families? Is there an untapped market for families that want greater customization within public education?” (Ibid, eric.ed.gov) Will homeschool, school-at-home and public school look more and more similar in the future based on lessons learned during 2020 and 2021?
FOR ASSISTANCE with developing customized homeschool curriculums, contact Global Student Network, a leader in providing flexible and innovative virtual homeschool programming since 2004. (https://globalstudentnetwork.com/)