Virtual schools: not so fast

Published on Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Last week, NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan testified before the Joint Committee on Public Education on the issue of virtual charter schools.  You should read where whole testimony to understand where NJEA stands on the issue.  But what she has to say about the role of teachers in education deserves special attention:

Virtual Charter Schools“So we are dismayed to see the Department pursuing an agenda, under the guise of virtual charter schools and so-called blended charter schools, which completely ignores the central role of teachers in high quality education.

“Because there are many things no computer screen can do.  A computer screen can’t sense if a child is upset, distracted, bored, sick or hungry.

“A computer screen can’t tell if a wrong answer is the result of a simple miscalculation, or a failure to understand the whole concept being taught.

“A computer screen can’t talk to a child about what’s bothering her, refer a child in crisis to intervention services or offer a listening ear to a child who needs it.

“And make no mistake.  Those aren’t just nice extras that a teacher offers – those things are a critical part of successful education for every student.  And all of them are missing in virtual learning environments, whether it’s a pure virtual school or a so-called blended school where students rarely, if ever, interact face to face with the adults who are supposed to be teaching them.

“Teaching isn’t like tax preparation, where all you need to do is fill in the right data and a computer can do all the hard work.  Learning isn’t a video game, where success is defined by putting in enough screen time and completing enough tasks to rise to the next level.  Teaching and learning are a fundamentally human interaction, where a teacher and a student work together to help that student understand a concept, apply it, and build on it for greater understanding and more learning.”

Well said, Marie.

Change is inevitable, and progress is important.  But we should never lose sight of the student-teacher relationship at the heart of successful learning.







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