||Posted: Mar. 08 2003,15:38
I'd like to address some of the issues raised by the two posts (intro and response) we've had thus far. I think that initiatives like GVS *can* be an effective and indeed a superior replacement for the public school system. Why? Because we are interested in engaging students in studies that inspire inquiry, encourage communication, and foster cooperation. As Bertrand Russell said, “We must have some concept of the kind of person we wish to produce before we can have any definite opinion as to the education which we consider best.” Unfortunately many public schools are woefully under funded and hamstrung/distracted by federal control. One such example: How many schools are preoccupied dealing with the controversy surrounding a stipulation (In the Bush Administration's "No Child Left Behind Act") which gives military recruiters increased access to information about public school students instead of addressing any number of problems plaguing the school? See www.rethinkingschools.org, Special Article on Bush's No Child Left Behind Act as a starting point for research on this legislation.
That being said, is it *necessary* to abandon the public school system? Certainly there are situations in which the two systems can compliment each other, and indeed GVS offers courses to students who are dual enrolled. But there is no question in my mind that a system which endeavors to support the development of thoughtful, compassionate and aware human beings through cooperative learning - encouraging students and their families to take an active role in planning education - is far superior to a system in which rote learning is employed to turn out students with degrees, most of whom know little about the world in which we live, thanks in part to sterile, mass-produced text-books. Worse yet, the public school system (the government, by extension) routinely denies claims that the indoctrination of certain values goes on in public schools. Can this really be so? Is it possible to say or do anything that is "value-free?" Which leads to another question: My child spends six hours a day, five days per week being educated by other people. Don't I want to know what's being taught and why? Don't I want to be more involved in what's going on? As a starting point for information about corporate involvement in public schools, see www.rethinkingschools.org, Archives, Summer 2002, Corporate Curriculum.
On to another question - Internet schools most certainly raise issues of class and privilege. The Digital Divide is an undeniable fact of life. Global Village School seeks to address this in a number of ways. First, we provide a text-based option in which students can submit and receive work via postal mail. Second, we seek to partner with groups who are actively involved in initiatives which increase access to technology in economically disadvantaged areas. One such group is with Mandate the Future (http://www.mandatethefuture.org). MtF is on a mission to unite and empower global youth, especially the disadvantaged in the Southern Hemisphere, in order to enhance their stakes and participation in sustainable development and democracy. In order to do this they establish Community Communication Centres (computer labs) and teach youth how to use a computer. As GVS expands we would like to look at supporting similar initiatives, such as establishing a network of computers in homeless shelters around the country so that transient children (whom we would offer scholarships to) will experience less disruption in their studies as they move from place to place.
The GVS staff is a diverse bunch. We represent women and men of various ages from different cultures, religions, and parts of the world. We have worked in many formal educational settings - public and private schools, distance learning, American Indian programs, college teaching and counseling, special needs, at-risk youth, and adult education programs – and consider ourselves life-long learners. We are committed to creating a school that embodies the same kind of diversity. Students around the world can create a community via the Internet – sharing cultures and life experiences they may not otherwise have been exposed to. A school whose classroom is the world provides access to increased diversity.
Thank-you for your questions. I look forward to more!