ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Why I Hate High School

ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

Post written by Jasmine Sanborn, a senior digital and visual journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. She hopes to follow her passions for conservation and comics and someday join the ranks at National Geographic or Marvel Comics.

Horrible. Backbreaking. Traumatizing. Stressful. Idiotic.

These are just a few words a panel of five blended-learning students used to describe how they felt about the classic high school experience. Moderator Mickey Revenaugh of Connections Education emphasized that this is not to say that every school is like this, but that the school system is definitely changing.

The old system was built to produce students on factory mode, with the goal of putting students into society as quickly as possible. With the 2.0 version of schools, we don't "produce" students, but rather "nurture" them, said Revenaugh.

The 2013 ASCD Annual Conference session titled "Why I Hate High School" sought to explore how these students went from dreading school to loving it.

Each of the panelists had transferred to blended schools for various reasons. For Douglas, a junior from Chicago Virtual Charter School, it was the mismanagement of his Type I diabetes. "They didn't know how to manage a student with Type I diabetes. Even with my 504 plan, I'd still get demerits and detention if I needed to leave class early," he said. "I'm in a positive state of mind now."

The first thing the students said that they had noticed upon starting at these blended schools was the flexibility they provided, and their focus on future success. Claricia, a senior from Chicago's VOISE Academy High School, noted the college flags that adorned the hallways of her school. "It gives everyone the constant view that college is actually out there and an option. College has always been in the front of our minds."

It's the schools' overall approach to education, though, that ultimately began to transform the students' mind-sets.

The focus has shifted from making it through the day to personalizing learning experiences and collaborating with students to let them set their own pace. "[School is] challenging, but it's a fun challenge. Before, you'd just sit there and flip through the book and hope you'd find the right answer," said Justin, a senior from Nexus Academy.

Douglas agreed. "One of the reasons I picked this school is that I knew they would assign a lot of coursework and they wouldn't let you slack off."

Above all, Justin liked the school's mission, which was to adapt to each student and his individual needs. "You all start out on assignments together, but if they notice a student isn't getting it, they adapt. The teachers change their learning style to what works best with that individual person," said Justin.

At her school, Clairicia had a similar experience. "We move around at our own pace, but we're still together," she said.

When asked again how they felt about school, the students opinions had undoubtedly changed.

Hope. Innovation. Perfect. Advanced. Awesome.

Comments (1)

Ellen McDonald

May 31, 2013

What is a blended school?

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