The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 19, 2013

Cyber school increases education

Daily Item

---- — I am an 11th grade cyber school student. I love school and I love learning. I have been in cyber school for about two years. Like most other cyber students, I am there for a reason. I went to a traditional school for my entire life, but I was bullied, which affected my health, and caused me to be bullied even more. I felt like I was suffocating; I didn't feel smart nor did I value myself as a person.

Since my start in a cyber school, I have discovered my own learning abilities and strengths and have been able to grow as a person and a student. I have received many educational opportunities and have been able to find a job and begin to prepare myself for my future. However, it is no secret that cyber school tends to be looked down upon in some parts of our society. Based on my own experiences and knowledge of the current political affairs about cyber schools, I have decided to write about the lack of promotion of this viable educational system that has changed my life.

To me, education is valuable. Ken Robinson said "You see, in the end, education is about learning. If there's no learning going on, there's no education going on. And people spend an awful amount of time discussing education without ever discussing learning. The whole point of education is to get people to learn." Some people cannot learn in the tradition school system, for many reasons. Our traditional educational system provides for a group experience, and not everyone in a group learns the same way.

All school systems are bound by the administration, goals, policies, statistics, reputations, standardized testing requirements and state requirements which must be met. All this pressure can take away from the quality of education the student receives.

The restrictions placed upon the schools can obstruct learning. Some students do really well with these pressures and can even be motivated by it. Nonetheless, as human beings, we are naturally diverse and different.

A traditional school system, is created for the masses, not for individuals. Every individual cannot be catered to in a public school system. There are rules set up for the masses and there are teachers set up to teach in a classroom setting. Students who may not be self-motivated, self-disciplined, good at managing their time, and who are codependent do well in the tradition school system. However, children can learn better, experience better, and overall be more successful, in a personal, individualized setting such as a cyber school.

The traditional school system helps students prepare academically for their future beyond high school and helps them to focus on what career field into which they want to go. I believe it is important to prepare and plan for our futures and take the required steps needed to reach our goals. The cyber school schedule is flexible. The student can make it what they want and take breaks when they want. For some students, this environment is more relaxing, and therefore makes it easier to learn and retain more information. As a student, I am taking steps to prepare for my future and reach my goals.

Students who may be teen parents face many struggles. Education is a big one for them and in a traditional school system, it can prove to be extremely difficult. A lot are torn between wanting to be there for their child and wanting to continue their education so they can support themselves and provide a future for their children. Cyber school allows teen parents to be able to raise their child while working to provide for their young family and continue their education.

The relationship between the student and the teacher is an essential component of education. Whereas that relationship can be found in both traditional schools and cyber schools, the flexibility of the cyber school schedule and the potentially shorter school day not only benefits the students but gives teachers other opportunities outside of teaching. Some of my teachers this past school year worked in other professional settings and would even apply their knowledge and experience to their teaching. By doing so, I felt that they provided me with more of a knowledge of real-life, as well as the required material.

In the traditional school system, students benefit from an active social life. They have the opportunity to be with their friends over lunch, study halls, and work together in the classroom. However, these situations also bring about the increasing amount of bullying. Students are bullied by other students and even by members of the faculty. I was one of those students who was a victim of bullying and who received such a response. Bullying is something that goes on everywhere. Bullying comes in many forms including the increasing cyber bullying. I was both cyber bullied and verbally bullied in school. Ironically, despite being cyber bullied, I am in cyber school. I have never witnessed cyber bullying going on in cyber school. All of our conversations with one another, during class, are monitored by the teacher.

Both the traditional school system and cyber schools are important and equally needed. Each student is individually unique and has their own learning abilities. Not every student can conform to a system in which is created for groups, but instead needs an individualized and flexible education that fits their abilities and their lifestyle.

By tapping into each student's personality and unique learning abilities, it's possible to increase the amount of learning that takes place, therefore, increasing the amount of education around the world.

n Natalie Westling, of New Berlin, is a student in the Agora Cyber Charter School.