Online schooling is one of the best methods for reaching a broad audience of learners with varying learning styles. There are a multitude of learning styles that each of us possess that, once understood, can be harnessed to help use our maximum learning potential. Traditional schools are wonderful, yet they cannot always accommodate the needs of learners in the most effective ways. This is common in every school across the nation. However, in many at-risk schools, this is a bonafide fact. All nor most learners attending at-risk schools suffer from severe emotional distress that causes them to continuously act out and thereby create a major pattern of disruption. However, those who do exhibit such behavior need not be excluded from the rest of the population. Thus, solutions to better suit educational needs must be created to help them function in a classroom environment. To gain better insight into this creating this solution, one must understand the basic types of conformity found in a school environment.
Types of Conformity in a School Environment
In most schools, there exists two types conformity- formal and informal. Formal conformity includes
- Academic classroom conformity – following classroom rules and procedures set forthe by the teacher and the school administration.
- Social classroom conformity – Appropriate interactions with peers in a classroom setting
Informal conformity includes
- Interactions with peers outside of the classroom – These interactions have a great impact on a students class participation.
- Interactions with instructors and school adminstrators not directly related to the daily lesson
Social Theoretical Perspectives of Learning
Due to social problems that impact the communities in which these schools reside, learners from these communities come to school facing very serious, and often adult issues in their personal lives. Such problems subconsciously manifest themselves through slipping grades, disconnection or acting out. Subconsciously trying to get out of a stressful, painful situation. Acting out to gain control of some aspect of their lives. These students are in an emotional place where they need a break – they just want to BE for a minute. They just want to be. However, this need to be occurs in a place that has it’s own mission, which is to take care of their educational needs. This place pushes them to be more and do more. Mentally and emotionally this can be quite overwhelming when it may seems as if one’s life is already falling apart. Learning might take a back seat for those who are trying to heal from the emotional and mental wounds of instability. This phenomenon is one of the major root causes discipline and behavioral management problems in at-risk schools. This phenomenon also adds another dimension to learning styles and individualized learning – the sociopsychological dimension of learning.
From a theoretical aspect, one can recall Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as well as George Herbert Mead’s Symbolic Interactionism. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs bascially suggests that it is difficult to live a healthy, productive life until self-actualization is achieved. Self-actualization includes have one’s basic spiritual, biological, social and emotional needs met. For children with severe emotional trauma due to abuse and neglect in the home, rage that they’re unable to direct to the source is often misplaced on those who seem less threatening such as peers or instructors. Those who need affection may seek it in productive ways such as working really hard to achieve good grades in an effort to earn the approval of teachers or parents. However, others may seek it in counterproductive activities such as outburts and/or non-compliance with class rules.
George Herbert Mead’s Symbolic Interactionism can be related to the rigorous routine and imposed upon (from the learner’s perspective) students in a traditional learning environment. One’s worthiness being judged by academic performance or rapport with an instructor can be quite damaging to anyone’s self-esteem. However, to an impressionable child, such judgment is often taken more personally than it would be by an adult. When a child is experiencing abuse at home, these feelings of inadequacy are compounded. Feelings of failure due to academic struggling being associated with feelings of failure and being a disappointment to close relatives such as parents, siblings or guardians can also stir up feelings of rage and frustration or a want to give up on learning or not try at all.
So, at-risk schools have become more than just a place of learning for so many students. Indeed, it’s become a counseling center, a vacation away from a turbulent home environment, a place to eat when there may be no other place. Yet, at the end of the day – at the end of the school year, the business of learning must be achieved. Finding balance in an environment as such can be difficult for learners who may not be dealing with any serious mental or emotional stress. Indeed, just as teachers and administrators are finding themselves in need of creating strategies to more effectively teach in a strained in environment, your average learner with no major discipline issues must also find ways to adjust. In fact, the most attention is given to teachers, administrators, and students with behavioral problems than the rest of the student body which makes of the population majority in at-risk schools. So what do we do from here?
The major objective is to, again, create a learning environment that can facilitate the needs of all learners. For students dealing with mental or emotional issues, encouraging them to associate learning in a gratifying light should be the goal. Indeed, it should be emphasized that to just try is winning half the battle. Thereafter, consistency and determination wins the rest of the battle. So what if you don’t have a 4.0 gpa? Doing your best to master concepts every in way that you understand best is what’s most important. Indeed, what is the point of having a 4.0 gpa if you can’t correctly apply the principles of what you’ve learned in a real world situations or any other situation than that which you’ve learned? Just try YOUR best. In doing this, students will diassociate deeper, existing feelings of inadequacy and failure with learning. This works in the tradtional learning environment and it is even more effective in the virtual environment
For at-risk youth, regardless of socioeconomic background, individualized education can help relieve the pressure to keep with peers or adhering to a precise schedule that followed by all , thus allowing students to work at their own pace and from their own level of learning. Most learners excel in this type of environment because they have more control over how they receive information being taught to them. All learners need to understand their own learning style to become better learners, and the learning styles assessment that takes place during individualized educational planning can take place more efficiently online. Indeed,they are freer to interpret information in ways that they understand most rather being forced to teach themselves the personal logic of their instructor first and the material second. Most of all, one’s ability to maintain a singular focus on learning can take place in the online environment where the distraction and extraneous pressures of traditional school can take place. The flexibility and independence that certain at-risk learners would need in order to find a balance between coping with personal issues and managing their studies might be better achieved for some in the virtual classroom. In regard to independence and ability to focus, this same thing can be said for learners in such schools who feel that the environment maybe too distracting or chaotic.
To learn more about Socio-academic Dynamics in virtual education, visit Conformity in Socio-academic Dynamics of virtual classrooms.