The essay below was written by VHS student Kelly Sheeran. It explains the benefits of programs offered by schools such as Vineyard Alternative School.
Independent Study: A Beneficial High School Alternative
The maximum learning potential of many children in the United States is lost in the everyday distractions a normal classroom provides. Every morning, for nine months out of every year, for roughly thirteen years, nearly every child in America attends a school. Starting with kindergarten, the children are taught the basic skills of interaction among other children. Grade after grade, the children gradually learn skills from the basic subjects of education and are soon able to apply this knowledge to the grades that will follow. Year after year, the children, by now young adults, have accomplished enough years of school to focus on their career. For many students, this process becomes overwhelming and the students may realize that they are not working to their full potential. They wonder in what other direction they can turn. Independent study is a fantastic alternative solution to this problem. With this option students are allowed to educate themselves at their own pace. Students should be given the choice as to whether or not they want to attend a traditional high school or motivate themselves enough to attend an independent study program.
The majority of students in the U.S are familiar only with the traditional educational system. They start school at a young age and work their way up until they are ready to start focusing on a career. Throughout those years, students make many friendships and they obtain great amounts of knowledge. The social and interactive skills needed in order to function, are engraved in the social networking of every student. The tremendous number of values learned from experiences in school will continue to grow as life carries on. At some point, however, students may feel distracted and wish to reach the full potential of their education. Independent study allows for that potential to be reached by setting the pace for one’s own learning capabilities.
Those attending a traditional school generally are not really thinking about their education, let alone putting in 100%. Instead they are going to be more worried about whether or not their best friend is going to be at school that day. Nearly all students attend school to be around friends and other students just like them and only about 10% of the day is devoted to learning. How many hours of each school day is spent either daydreaming, trying to wake up, texting friends and/or thinking about how boring a class is? In reality, the majority of the 6-7 hour day is aimed at “non-focus.” Many parents might wonder why someone would want to take away the social interaction, but they do not understand that not all students function the same way in school as their child does. Independent study can be used on a short-term or long-tem basis and is generally offered as a voluntary option chosen by students and parents. State law provides that the education students receive using independent study should be equal in quality and quantity to that offered in a traditional classroom. Independent study reaches out to those who are gifted and are not challenged or to students who face particular challenges such as health issues or struggles with traditional academic instruction. Students may realize that they are wasting their time in the classroom waiting for everyone else to finish the assignment and listening to the teacher yell at the one disruptive kid in the class while the rest of the students have to sit there and listen to the entire thing, day, after day, after day. The student may suddenly realize that while Mrs. Higgenbopper is busy telling Billy to shut up, they could be making an incredible amount of progress in their learning, free from an environment constantly holding them back.
After eighth grade, it is another four years called high school. Students who do attend traditional high school are surely not bound for failure but independent study fills the gap between those who succeed and those who drop out. So many students will complete high school without ever having reached their full learning potential, Independent Study automatically provides students with the study habits and work ethic needed to succeed in college. To the students who feel they have the skills and motivation to function in a school where they take the lead, there are options. And independent study is a safe, beneficial alternative.