Why Traditional Schools Just Aren't Cutting It

Dozens of students taught by one teacher. They are all learning exactly the same way.

It's no secret that the American educational system could use a little work. (Make that a lot of work.) With standardized test scores continuing to slip down the international scoreboard and a whopping 98% of high school students feeling bored in school, the USA isn't exactly winning a Best in Class Award any time soon.

Having been homeschooled online from kindergarten all the way through acceptance to my first-choice college, Columbia University, traditional schooling horrified me when I decided to try it out for a short time in high school. In tenth grade, my twin and I visited a nearby private school at the recommendation of a family friend with a gifted child. The next year, we gave our local public school a try for a few days. In both cases, the other students were friendly, and the teachers seemed nice enough. But at both locations, we were forced to sit through classes that covered material we had learned years ago thanks to the flexibility and acceleration of our unique education. Moreover, the quality of discussion and analysis didn't come close to what we were used to experiencing in the online classes we took, taught by professors with doctorates in the subjects and in the virtual company of peers from around the world.

This is not to say that our experiences are indicative of all students and schools, public or private; that there are no students who are benefited by these schools; or that access to publicly-funded K-12 education isn't a necessity. However, our experiences unfortunately confirmed what we already knew: that traditional schooling places unnecessary limits on students by asking them to conform to each other and to certain academic tracks based on bureaucracy rather than the needs of the individual student. On the other hand, as my twin and I experienced firsthand and as studies continue to show, it's homeschoolers who outscore other US students by 30+ points on tests of math, reading, science, and social studies. As I saw in over a decade of homeschooling, the one thing these students have in common is that their studies have nothing in common - and it works.

America persists in trying to 'fix' education by constantly debuting new one-size-fits-all approaches that are supposed to heal our broken system, from differentiated instruction to Common Core, but what made it crack in the first place was the idea that one size can ever fit more than a few people. Our current public and private school models come from the Industrial Age, when students needed to be trained to work in factories and obedience, conformity, and a lack of question-asking were résumé necessities. But what gets results in the modern era, while making students happier and more engaged, is an education personalized to each student, taking into account that individual's ways of processing information, level of mastery in each subject, and both academic and other interests.

Sound difficult? That's because it is, especially when parents have to work and don't have the necessary training to facilitate the process, and kids get lonely doing school at home all day. That's why we created My Ivy Education. We believe no family should have to sacrifice education for socialization, nor acceleration for community engagement. At our campus, students reap the best of both worlds with both an education tailored to them and the company of like-minded peers with whom they can collaborate in the real world, bringing homeschooling techniques to the masses for the first time ever. We make it happen.