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Can Distance Learning Rescue Teens From Dropping Out of High School?

Lina Liken, Ed.D., CAP

Good question, but let’s not jump to a simplistic yes or no answer.  From this side of the computer and distance learning, I say the real answer is…maybe. As with all options and all populations, can there be a solitary, concrete yes or no. It doesn’t seem so when you really look at the problem before offering the solution.

First, what is the problem? Can we define it with a closed statement that begins “teens drop out of high school because…” and finish it off with a simple and short phrase.  Before the cure, shouldn’t we look at the cause? Do we want to respond to just the symptoms: where does “dropping out” fall in the cause and effect discussion? What about the characteristic of symptom, coincidence, consequence? Or could a teen dropping out of high school be the result of a well-thought through and logically guided decision.

Would it follow, then, to examine the demographics of these high school dropouts? List the multiple factors; arrange the lists as to cause? Would these words describe symptoms, causes, or effects?

After that, would we be able to state that distance learning could be helpful for some teen dropouts. Yet are we inferring that one size intervention will fit all?

Is this a naïve position? Must we regard this population prior to dropping out, assemble the demographics, and then develop and deliver appropriate interventions responsive to the underlying cause. Or offer distance learning.

Most times when there is a high school drop out, there were risk factors. For purposes of this discussion, we will exclude those in prisons, military and not living in any household.

Before a “cure” can be chosen, a rational process would include compiling a list of possible risk factors. What about the larger issue of the universal de-valuing of education in the United States. How is this manifested in society? Is one response that males of driving age choose to drop out, work for minimum wage and sport a car and freedom? Is this perceived freedom and false independence valued more than a diploma?

Could the frustrations and social status of teachers contribute to any part of this devaluing of education in the United States and teen drop out movement… Would education have increased value to high school students if teachers received a “million dollar signing bonus” similar to those other “professionals” who play with a ball?

If the product is not valued, is it easier for customers to leave the store empty-handed?

Frequently personal risk factors do underscore decisions when teens drop out of high school and many of these could be better identified and addressed within the school system, and to some degree, they are. These can include, yet not be limited to: student or family member physical or emotional illness, homes with single parents with limited or no energy to confront or insist on school attendance, mobility of families which results in multiple school experiences with not enough residence get caught up or to fit in, special needs students who have been overlooked in the system and lack appropriate educational interventions. And what about those students who just don’t see how education is worth the time and effort.

If these students would get to the point of considering distance learning, what are the realistic chances of success for them in that milieu when you consider that probably the core characteristic necessary for success in distance learning is self-discipline. This does stand as the cornerstone of education in this setting. Now consider what degree of self-discipline is available for those we know as the typical high school dropout. If this characteristic is not nurtured, distance learning can in no way be a viable option for rescuing the teen drop out.

What other practical considerations deserve to be included in this conversation? What needs to be in place to support success in distance education learners?

Are we being completely fair in a quick answer to the question “Can Distance Learning Rescue Teens From Dropping Out of High School?” My answer to the question is It could rescue SOME …maybe. online casino game

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