Is studying at home a good idea?
Theoretically, it would be possible for students, at least senior school students, to study at home. Advances in communication technology have made it easy for students and teachers to communicate with each other without being in the same building.
Many homes now have computers which students could use to keyboard their essays and other work. Alternatively, education authorities could supply students with computers, since these are now available quite cheaply. The work could be sent to the teachers by email. Teachers could then read it on screen, mark it and send it back to the students with their comments. They could also send further assignments and give answers to students’ queries and problems by email.
Information could also be dispatched by email. At the very least, teachers could send information sheets by email to augment the information provided by traditional textbooks. Also, advances in technology have made information much more accessible. In many countries, people have access to a wide range of television channels, several of which are factual and educational. If necessary, this range could be expanded and made more specific to the students’ needs.
Even more information is available on the Internet. Indeed, the World Wide Web can provide people with almost anything they could possibly want to know. The only thing is that finding the exact information you are seeking is not always quick and easy Students would have to be disciplined enough not to spend time browsing through interesting facts that were not relevant to their studies.
It may be possible for school students to work at home, but would this be a good idea? Personally, I do not think that it would. For a start, there is the problem of self-discipline, which has already been mentioned in relation to the Internet. Not many students would work as hard as they would at school without the presence of teachers.
A great disadvantage of home-based study would be the lack of person-to-person contact with teachers. It is much easier to give and to understand an explanation of something complicated when the two people involved are face-to-face. A problem can be explained in a few words while it may take several emails to clarify it.
Also, good teachers do more than simply impart information. They encourage and even inspire students to learn and to take an interest in their studies. It is difficult for teachers to have such an effect if students are not in the same building. Of course, arrangements would probably be made for home-based students and teachers to meet regularly for some kind of teaching session but this would not have the same effect as meeting on a daily basis.
The home-based study could be rather lonely. There would just be the student and the computer and television. The students would have access to facts, but not to the opinions of members of their peer group. Traditional schools provide daily opportunities for group discussions in class, and students benefit from hearing several people’s points of view. At home, they are isolated from such valuable input.
The traditional school is not just about students acquiring facts and passing examinations. It also helps them to improve their social skills. In particular, it enables them to interact with people of their own age. They form friendships and learn to get on as well as possible with people whom they do not really like. This is a valuable lesson for their later lives and one that home-based study cannot teach.