Opinion: Virtual Learning Doesn’t Cut It
PORTALES (KSMX)- A voice from rural New Mexico-Guest opinion column-May 13, from State Senator Pat Woods (R-7-Broadview, NM):
Relying solely on virtual learning and the internet to teach our kids just isn’t doing the job, it isn’t cutting it. It is not working in rural New Mexico and it is not working across the entire state. Learning by reading about it, or watching it online isn’t for everything. Hands-on is critical. Our post-secondary schools across the state, including our all-important vocational-technical training facilities, need to reopen. It is essential some learning is eye- to- hand training.
The horseshoer needs to learn how to shape iron and drive nails for the horse’s comfort and safety. The farrier needs hands-on experience to learn how to shoe a horse in order not to be kicked in the face. A student learning cabinet- making needs to make cuts so perfect that you have to look at the wood grain to see the joint.
An apprentice welder needs to learn to carry molten metal uphill, fusing two pieces of metal into one by watching a blue ark dance.
Hands-on learning is vital for the person cutting lumber with a chainsaw; the electrician installing a three-way switch, and the cosmetologist and barber wanting to cut and color hair. Some things need a great deal of practice, in-person observation and interactive learning. Many certificates and degree programs are not suited for only on-line learning.
Some students might only require a few weeks of training to complete their certificate to be employable and to be able to get on with life.
While post-secondary schools need to reopen now, we must make certain K-12 reopen in August.
Many parents and teachers in my district tell me they have a greater appreciation of the classroom and education. They are concerned about whether their children are learning in this current at-home environment of virtual learning. Teachers tell me only a fifth of the students are following classwork on-line and that the students are not motivated to do the classwork because they have been told they already earned the grade for the school year. Parents tell me they are struggling as they try to help their kids with their schoolwork and they want them back in the classroom soon.
Because our goal is to raise education in New Mexico to its highest level and to give our students their best educational experience, students must return to the classroom.
Senator Pat Woods