Letters to the Editor

Phillips letter: Virtual and traditional schools

In response to Jan. 10 Guest Opinion, while I see no particular reason to position online and traditional schooling as rivals, I must respond where the dynamics of the traditional classroom have been misunderstood. The implication that online school fosters greater diversity is obviously false. My classroom hosts students from 10 countries. Wealthy and homeless, those with learning and behavioral challenges. Sitting in the same room doesn’t diminish the vast range of their backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.

Just as “in the virtual environment, there is no fear of embarrassment to ask for help,” in a well-managed classroom, students are comfortable requesting help and conducting discussions, while developing the interpersonal skills and confidence that will serve them in nonvirtual pursuits throughout their lives.

As the author describes “allowing students to work at their own pace,” he is describing differentiation, a technique every teacher in the state has been extensively trained in implementing.

Oddly, we’re told that a specific advantage of online school is that the virtual teacher isn’t forced to wait for a parent-teacher conference, since he is “never more than a phone call, email or online class away.” Every teacher in the state possesses a phone and email account, and each school is equipped with a conference room.

Adam Phillips, Boise

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