Towards a Hybrid Model of Teaching and Learning

This is a half-baked idea. I fully admit it. So I need your help. There’s lots of talk these days about “crowdsourcing” through the blogosphere, i.e., tapping into the collective wisdom of large groups of people in order to develop ideas or solve problems. So I thought I’d give it a whirl . . .

My daughter is currently enrolled in a PPS school. We like a lot of what our daughter’s school has to offer, esp. regarding the approach it takes in letting kids pursue things they’re interested in and not pressuring very young kids to “be at grade level.” But we’re also considering homeschooling again.

There’s been talk on this blog recently of the agonizing position that many parents are put in RE: their neighborhood school options. “me” wrote:

“Within just a few blocks from us, I can count at least 3, if not 4 or 5 families who are already talking about having to move or opting out of public schooling if it came to that. Several others have already voted with their feet by going to private or online schools. Flight can happen without having to move at all.”

It might be time for the district to think about committing resources to support homeschoolers here in Portland. As I mentioned in a recent comment on this blog, I’m interested in seeing more hybrid models of teaching and learning. As was pointed out in another comment on this blog, the “hybrid” teaching model I’m looking for is already happening to a limited extent in some schools around PPS. But it happens “only at schools viewed as ‘alternative’ by the district, or at neighborhood schools with the resources/demographics to support partnerships with the community resources (private, or parents) to dedicate that kind of time during the school day.” It was suggested in the same post that “a return to comprehensive schools with larger cohort populations would help that to some degree” because “(i)t’s easier to justify dedicating the resources to provide a diverse curriculum when you have the student population base to support it.”

But I’m thinking of something else. In this hybrid model I’m envisioning, our traditional brick-and-mortar schools would function more as community centers. They would offer classes, similar to what Village Home offers. They would offer childcare and healthcare, too. Parents could take parenting workshops while kids played or took classes, similar to what Continuum Learning Community offers. Kids and parents could form affinity groups and then plan outings around shared interests: trips to OMSI, the zoo, Forest Park for a hike, etc. To make it manageable for working parents, parents could volunteer one day a week to be the chaperone/guide/facilitator for the day. In essence, this would resemble a teaching and learning co-op.

If students were enrolled in a PPS-sanctioned and supported homeschooling facility at least half time, the district would still get state dollars. The students would still be PPS students, albeit in a “hybrid” mode. Maybe this would be a way to mitigate some of the awful effects of “school chance”?

So what do you think gang?

Peter Campbell is a parent, educator, and activist, who served in a volunteer role for four years as the Missouri State Coordinator for FairTest before moving to Portland. He has taught multiple subjects and grade levels for over 20 years. He blogs at Transform Education.