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Albert Einstein once said, “I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn” (King p. 126). For the ADD/ADHD student, providing the best learning condition is often overwhelming and seems impossible to achieve. Online public schooling is a solution to meeting this type of student’s educational needs. An online education addresses an ADD student’s need for a more individualized, self-paced/flexible learning experience. Organizational skills are easier to manage in an online system. The community of learners, who have the same interests as the student, is broadened to include the world and not limited to a small classroom.
Teachers state that “ADD students, who have difficulty learning in a traditional classroom, often do better in a setting that provides them with a more individualized, self-paced and flexible learning experience.”(Schwartz) Online public education is one way to provide this type of experience. Traditionally, in a brick and mortar school, many ADD students raise their hand to ask a question and the teacher never answers, while others get into trouble for asking too many questions. In online schooling, a student is able to think about an answer to a question before discussing it. One source has stated, “It also helps students who need time to gather their thoughts during a discussion” (Rae Jacobson). In online schools, such as Texas Connections Academy, livelessons are provided (and recorded) to aid students in these types of discussions. If the student is unable to attend the livelesson, or needs to hear the information again, the student is able to replay the lesson as many times as they need until they understand the concept. The “re-watching” of a lesson is not possible in a traditional school. An online student is able to complete the schoolwork at their own rate. Students can work at a time of the day that best fits their biological clock. “Your child can choose the time of day or night when he works best” (Rae Jacobson). Since some ADD students learn faster than others, an online school gives the student the opportunity to move on. They do not have to sit there and wait on other students to finish before moving on to the next assignment. Individualized learning and the ability to succeed, is a must for all students with learning difficulties.
ADD students often have difficulty with organizational skills and completing tasks on a strict time schedule. For an ADD student, going from class to class can be challenging. A brick and mortar school requires students to carry all of their supplies and switch between teachers, assignments, and classrooms in a timely fashion (Cedar Hill High School). Traditional schools expect students to sit rigidly at a desk that does not fit the shape of the student’s body. In an online public-school system, students do not have to carry around textbooks, or supplies. A majority of their schoolwork is already organized right in front of them. Everything is at the student’s fingertips. The classroom is the students home or library. The optimum learning time for ADD students can vary. Brick and mortar high school students are on a fixed schedule and students must attend classes at a designated time and complete homework assignments in the evenings (Cedar Hill High School). Online students have the ability to access and complete the class materials at any time, day or night. From my personal experience with Texas Connections Academy, I know that you are able to get access to your lessons and especially the message board, at any time of day. Your child can choose the time of day or night when he works best. “There is no set class schedule so you can attend class any time of day” (Southwestern Oklahoma State University). The burden of being super-organized and on a time crunch is virtually eliminated in an online school.
Opponents of online school say “There’s something about watching a movie with a large group of people that is different from watching it all alone. Same for the classroom, it’s a group experience” While the quote itself may be true, this argument is narrow in its statement. Online education is beneficial and actually broadens the community for the ADD student. The student is no longer stuck in a small room. They have the ability to be a part of a group of people with the same interests all over the world. Thomas Jefferson believed in learning from others and practicing what he learned from others. Online schooling can increase the cultural experiences of the student. “It is important for students to have a deeper global awareness and understanding of other cultures” (José Picardo) from any part of the world. The greatest way for a student to learn about another part of the world is to talk to a person who lives in that part of the world. Choosing an online school, like Texas Connections Academy, keeps in mind the importance of social interactions and includes field trips as part of their curriculum. A student is not limited in an online classroom and has the possibility of learning more by talking to people from around the world and listening to their story of an event first hand, instead of reading a boring textbook in a traditional classroom.
The impossible is possible with online schooling. Meeting an ADD/ADHD student’s individual learning style is important in order for them to have a successful educational experience that prepares them for the real world. Online schooling is the real world. The community of learners, who have the same interests as the student, is massive. “Flexible learning can help meet the needs of a diverse range of students, allowing students to combine their work, their study, and even their family, and enables the students to develop skills and attributes to successfully adapt to change” (Ryerson University). Online, flexible learning, gives students the choice of when, where, and how they learn. All students can learn, if given the right condition to do so. An online education opens a door for the learning challenged student to be competitive in the 21st century. George W. Bush once said “…We’ll never be able to compete in the 21st century unless we have an education system that doesn’t quit on children, an education system that raises standards, an education that makes sure there’s excellence in every classroom” (Bush p. 2495). Online schooling is that classroom that provides excellence for ADD/ADHD students.
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