Why Distance Learning Will Fail Our Youth
While many students are successfully homeschooled, distance learning on a large scale is destined to fail our youth. In fact, I will prove to you why distance learning on the scope our country is facing right now due to COVID-19 restrictions is hurting our youth's education causing them to suffer intellectually, developmentally, and socially.
1. Parents Aren't Teachers - I think we can all agree that we found out fairly quickly during the initial stages of the pandemic that parents aren't necessarily equipped to teach their children coursework. First of all, many teaching styles have changed, especially with regard to 'Common Core' math. It's not that the parents can't do the math, they just weren't taught the same way. Plus, parents, especially working parents, aren't always able to provide a structured and distraction-free environment that schools can. Structure is so important, especially our younger children. Unfortunately, you can't always ensure a structured environment with virtual instruction... especially considering that 21% of parents have had to change their work hours due to the pandemic to accommodate their kids being home. Finally, if just anyone could be a teacher, having a degree in education and the proper training wouldn't be a requirement. Conversely, teachers were trained to teach in the classroom, not manage virtual and in-person instruction.
2. Lack of Broadband/Internet Connectivity - According to USA Today, Microsoft did a study in 2018 and found that about half of Americans don't have access to high-speed internet, which is needed to stream classes via Zoom and other platforms. This adversely affects rural students as well as those from low-income homes and creates huge inequalities in access to education. There is no way that local school systems can provide enough hot spots to combat this issue.
3. Lack of Devices - Many school districts across the country are reporting that there is a shortage of devices to facilitate online learning. This is not only due to supply chain issues but also increased demand. In fact, retailers report that in some instances, new Chromebooks are completely sold out and other manufacturers like Dell, Lenovo, and HP are struggling to produce enough new products.
4. Social Development - Ever since the pandemic began, experts have been warning of the dangers of isolation due to distance learning. Schools are one of the main places that our children learn to interact with others. In fact, according to one article, Dr. Bonnie White says she's seeing an increasing number of her patients suffer from anxiety issues and depression resulting from the lockdown. Psychologist Dr. Sarah Dew-Reeves is concerned that many kids will regress or have problems with social skills they had already mastered.
5. Education - Everyone learns differently. The first glaring problem with mass online learning is the lack of one on one attention that many students need. The New York Times reports that the switch to distance learning wiped out 'academic gains' for many students. Sadly, according to a study by McKinsey and Company, many students at the best full-time virtual schools can do as well or better than those at traditional ones, however, most studies have found that full-time online learning does not deliver the academic results of in-class instruction.
In short, to employ distance learning, it must be available to all students. Clearly, coronavirus has pointed out the painful disparity in our country with regard to socioeconomic status and how it impacts the learning process.