Recently, there has been a great debate around the creation and implementation of an online platform that allows high school students to take classes and obtain their degrees. Advocating for children to stay in their own four walls and study the necessary subjects one would need to obtain a degree – a degree that is clearly not holistic and cannot equate to being in a high school atmosphere. One example of this system in our society is, Memphis, Tennessee. They require its students to take an online course to graduate. It is understandable why policy makers, teachers and parents are promoting this system – the educational atmosphere is no longer a safe environment and the ever-increasing budget cuts. Online classes still may not be the best solution to the problem and seems like a cop out resolution. I am not dismissing the great strides and efforts to reduce bullying and gun violence don’t think they should go unnoticed but it does leave many with questions like: Are those the sole reasons for an online high school degree? Are those reasons sufficient? How are educators and parents going to ensure the “typical high school experience”? Are online courses comparatively cheaper? All great questions to consider, however not the questions that I want to focus on in this post; the question that I will be discussing is how does obtaining a high school degree from the internet effect the arts and how/if a child receives art education.
The transition from a conventional high school education to online classes can be extremely problematic. It removes half of a child’s education, the humanistic aspects and simply reduces it to reading, writing and arithmetic. The arts & crafts component of school has been eliminated. Are children going to have an online application for painting, sculpture and pottery? I don’t believe that is possible and would not be hands-on and interactive. I often here my father and his friends talking about their “home ec” classes, learning to cook apple pie or fix a flat tire but all skills transferable to the real world – real life competency. These home ec courses taught high school students how to care for a life-like baby doll, manage money, reading an apartment lease and attain car insurance. Contrary to practical, hands-on examples, there are also disciplines that focus on the human condition and foster critical, innovative thinking. Fine arts, performing arts, literature, philosophy, religion and history are examples of humanistic study, subjects that require students to use core skills (reading, writing and arithmetic) as a tool and foundation that enables innovation. An educator can teach a student that 1+1=2 but if that student doesn’t know what 2 means or the different components that went into creating that 2, how can anyone expect that student to effectively and efficient use that 2? In other words, learning that 1+1=2 is a success but how can an individual take that 2 and make it a significance?