Isolation limits accomplishment. Most people would agree that it would be silly to learn how to use a turn signal on your vehicle without learning how to drive– just as it would be silly to learn every comma rule but miss out on how to put words together to form sentences or paragraphs. Each skill is crucial, but its effect is severely diminished by isolation. In a similar way, students learning with other students provides opportunities for increased knowledge retention, a more balanced perspective on content, and the development of crucial skills for working with others.
Did you know learning together can increase individual understanding?
Of course one of the beauties of home schooling is the ability to cater instruction to the specific needs of your student. Students greatly benefit from working at their own appropriate pace, but what often remains unnoticed is the intellectual impact of group interaction. God created all people as social creatures who benefit from community (hence, the church). Through relationships, people find motivation which encourages them to continue working diligently to accomplish their goals (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10). Additionally, one incredible research project shows that peers working together has the greatest educational outcome. John Hattie’s renown work, Visible Learning for Literacy, evaluates the impact of various teaching strategies. Although all strategies yield some improvement from students, his project revealed that peer tutoring and group learning allowed for the highest percent of improvement. Through peer tutoring, students must adopt a role as a teacher, becoming an expert on a topic in order to communicate their ideas to their peers which encourages them to reflect on their own understanding and delve into further study if needed.
It can provide broader perspectives as well!
Being homeschooled through 8th grade, I had quite an adjustment to make moving into the public school classroom as a high school student. One way that I benefited from interaction in the transition is by consistently being met with differing perspectives. Holding tightly to an idea is easy when the idea remains unquestioned; however, students find themselves with a reason to further investigate ideas when they run into opposing viewpoints. This allows students a natural circumstance for increasing their own understanding and for recognizing that at times ideas that appear to conflict may hold merit.
Learning together also encourages social development.
Unlike the chalkboard and desk rows in classrooms of the 1950’s, the modern classroom was developed for a modern purpose. Most occupations today require some level of peer collaboration. Interacting socially with a friend is one important skill, but working together for a purpose requires a complex set of communication, negotiation, and compromise skills. In an environment like Excelsior Classes, students are able to work independently and jointly to further enhance their ability to negotiate complex social relationships. These interactions prepare each individual to appropriately meet the demands of their future careers.
Fisher, D., N. Frey, and J. Hattie (2016). Visible Learning for Literacy: Implementing the Practices that Work Best to Accelerate Student Learning. London: Corwin Literacy.
Hannah Dietrich loves communicating in order to learn and teach. She believes that all students are capable of learning and deserve the opportunity to better themselves through quality education. Hannah has taught a variety of English courses in Texas public high schools for the last five years. She has also coached students in competitive academic teams for literary criticism and spelling. Professionally, Hannah has presented strategies for student composition development at six education conferences and taken a role as a leader in the public school teaching community. She also has guided international student trips to France and Spain. Previously, Hannah taught English as a second language in China and equipped a team of new teachers to work with the Chinese students.