We’ve seen the future, and it’s a hybrid
William Mattox offers a glimpse into what will undoubtedly play a huge role in the future of education (and socialization) in Florida Reformers Got It Right: Hybrid Schoolers Reap the Benefits. Mattox describes how his high-school aged son, Richard, embodies a new breed of “hybrid schooler” customizing his education and extra-curricular activities in a manner that best suits his needs. The result is not just rigorous academics, but a chance to develop relationships with students, teachers and coaches beyond the traditional classroom or after-school setting.
While technically a home schooler, Richard is in reality a “hybrid” schooler. His education consists of a combination of online courses, attendance at a small private school, and participation in a local performing arts program. Richard also plays baseball for the local public high school team at Tallahassee’s Leon High School, where he takes AP courses, too.
During his son’s participation in these academic and extra-curricular offerings, Richard’s father soon discovered other hybrid schoolers, such as the first baseman who was taking online courses at the Florida Virtual School in English and Financial Management, and the outfielder who took several extra online music courses at night and over the summer. That outfielder eventually earned a college offer from The Juilliard School.
While the academic benefits of customizing education are well established, what is particularly encouraging is the potential for hybrid schooling to broaden social outreach by connecting the student to new people and experiences. Going back to the example of Richard, he developed supportive friendships with thespians in his drama club, college students at his Youth Ministry (through his private Christian school), with public high school students from his AP courses, and with other athletes from his baseball team. These students and their groups were all different, and yet Richard felt personally connected to each one. Hybrid schooling thus broadened the diversity of his social experiences, and allowed Richard to develop meaningful relationships with other students, teachers and coaches.
For students whose learning styles and strengths are not a good fit for what Mattox describes as the “factory school model of the 20th century,” hybrid schooling is one way for students to individualize their learning in way to maximize the learning experience, both academically and socially.