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BLENDED LEARNING, PARENTAL PRIORITIES, AND ADOLESCENT CONFLICTS
All students engage in blended learning one way or another. Previous generations did the same, but without technology. Several decades ago, blended learning was basically limited to combining textbooks with classroom experiences that involved chalkboards, peer collaboration, and computer labs. Contemporary applications of blended learning is almost a “take off” on the eclectic approach to learning – a mixture of field trips with support groups, internet explorations, textbook assignments, library research, and projects followed by extensive written and oral reports.
Blended learning is practical, beneficial, and necessary in order to address individual student personalities, academic competencies, and dreams, and parental priorities. Adolescence is a transition time between childhood and adulthood. It is awkward, emotionally painful, and often tumultuous for parents and children. Adults realize that youth must sooner or later emancipate from apron strings, and strike out toward personal destinies based on individual personalities, dreams, character, and intellectual competencies. Getting youth ready for emancipation from parents requires insight, patience, planning, and foresight. Moreover, wise parents start the emancipation process well ahead of puberty by being alert to spot each child’s best learning style and personal interests: writing, reading, technology, animals, music, art, mechanics, domestics, etc.
By the time a student reaches puberty, parents should know what effects each child regarding learning styles, curriculum delivery format, and interests. That is why blended learning during pre-puberty years is advisable – at least until parents identify the learning format that best accommodates the student’s learning preference. Exposing students to various forms of learning allows parents to structure high school studies with the learning style that best prepares teenagers for emancipation with minimum parental conflict.
During pre-high school years, parents and proctors usually focus on teaching content with which they are comfortable and competent. But, because parents are also involved in domestic responsibilities, a great deal of independent learning must be supervised. The downside is that some academic skills are not acquired at levels needed by students. That is why blended learning becomes advisable. It allows parents to teach content with which the parents are competent and comfortable, or parents can direct students to learn from independent, non-parent-dependent, materials in print or digital formats, and/or other sources.
Some academic skills are critical for success in secondary level courses: reading at grade level, arithmetic skills that enable students to complete algebra and geometry, reasoning and decision-making skills, writing and composition with clarity, and a basic understanding of money management. Of paramount necessity with youth is possession of integrity and moral character. Parents can address those issues by accessing blended learning sources.
Fortunately, availability of local and digital resources enable parents to structure educational environments that combine/blend the best qualities of academic packages. Students can experience blended learning via standard printed texts, individualized softcover courses, unit studies, online courses, downloads to smartphones, face-to-face tutorials, libraries, specialized lectures, and outdoor explorations. Blended learning is the ideal formula by which to identify each student’s preferred learning style before reaching puberty, and then structuring learning with a combination of those elements by which the student has demonstrated enjoyment and engagement in content at the mastery level.
Ronald E. Johnson, C.Ph.D. is an internationally known conference speaker, educator, and author. He has been a consultant for officials in such places as Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and the US White House. His articles have appeared in publications worldwide. He is the founder and president of Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. His unique individualized curriculum is used by students from Maine to California, and Alaska to Texas.
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