Are Micro-Schools the Wave of the Future?

The New York Times of October 14, 2020, had an interesting article on the long-term effects of the pandemic on education. A number of micro-schools, learning pods, and other alternative forms of education have sprung up all over the country, many of which are expected to continue even once the virus has been brought under control.

The reasons for this are clear. “In a microschool, if you master things quickly, you move ahead quickly, but if you need more time, learning is slowed down so you can fill in the gaps, says Maureen O’Shaunghnessy, Ph.D., administrator of LEADprep, a Seattle microschool.

At Samson Home School Academy, this attention to the individual is part of the reason for its existence. Certainly it was part of why I homeschooled both my children. In a traditional classroom, with 25-30 students (and sometimes more!), it is extremely difficult for a teacher to give attention to an individual student. In addition, a significant portion of class time is given over to “crowd control,” and many activities that are possible in a micro-sized class are impossible even with a “small” class of 15-20 students. (Imagine for a moment, if you will, 25 kindergarteners, each with a bottle of Elmer’s glue and you’ll understand what I mean.)

With a micro-sized class, instruction can be tailored to the individual student. While one explanation may enlighten one student, another student may need a different approach in order have that all- important “light bulb” moment. In a micro-sized class, the teacher can see, and address, these kinds of differences.

In a micro-sized class, too, individual interests can be accommodated, even encouraged. My younger son, for example, used some of his homeschooling time to teach himself video filming and editing techniques. A graduate of UT’s film department, he now operates his own digital editing service.

In short, individual readiness, learning styles, and interests are best served in micro-sized environments. Small wonder, then, that one long-lasting effect of the pandemic may be the continued reliance on homeschooling and micro-schools.

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