Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA), utilizing the K12 Virtual School curriculum, is our first foray into both a virtual school and the public school system. Although the concept of virtual schools hold incredible promise for the 21st Century, it has also become apparent that the minds and hearts of each student are still lumped together to one set standard that each child has to reach no matter their own goals and dreams.
There are no clear individual “threads” or paths of learning that link material from multiple subjects to align with a specific career paths until high school. Why are we waiting so long?
Any education program has to be designed around the interests and personal goals of the child. To do otherwise is to lose their interest and self-motivation to conquer the unknown and learn the material; they need their own reason to do it. And it can’t just be “Mom says so!” If you lose their own personal desire, you only have force and authority as tools to enforce the knowledge.
Any guesses what that does to creativity?
For individuals in the United States to compete and participate in this modern, globalized and increasingly flat world, we need innovative and creative people. We need leaders who love what they do and are damn good at it. We do not need stressed-out, over-tested, fact-fire-hosed individuals and expect them to retain their creative and innovated sparks.
My son wants to be an actor (specifically comedy and stunts), and a 3-D computer animator. He wants to visit, experience and possible work or intern in China or Japan for cultural diversity. At some point, he wants to run his own business that houses all these things.
Good! Now that we have his personal goals established and our job as parents is to get him the education to help him make these dream a reality.
Will he change his mind? Quite possible. But right now, this is what he wants and his entire education system can be geared towards the basics we all need (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic) and the additional skills he will need to accomplish his goals. No harm will come to him if he changes his mind in the future and path and has to acquire additional skills.
Now, with his goals in mind, what subjects do you think I want him to spend more time in or get extra classes for? Subjects such as: public speaking, theater, computer animation software programs, drawing on and off the computer, design, business, the languages Chinese and Japanese. And I want them right now, when he wants them and is willing to learn them, not when he is battling puberty and craving social attention.
Each child has a right and a need to receive the education they need to compete as individuals in this increasingly flattening world, and with all the creativity and innovation they can muster.
If I design an educational program that gives him the skills he needs to accomplish his own stated goals then I am not fighting him, forcing him, yelling at him to get his school work done. I am calmly reminding him of his own goals and asking him how this subject will help him achieve his goals?
Granted, he needs his basics reading, writing, and arithmetic. But, he will not need a whole host of other subjects that have become “mandatory” within the public school curriculum.
We have to start individual learning threads much, much younger than middle and/or high school.