Updated: Jan 20, 2020
The Summit Learning program promotes a type of education called “personalized learning”. This educational approach uses online tools to customize education. The platform that Summit provides was developed by the engineers at Facebook. The platform is funded by Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and his wife Priscilla Chan. Families in Kansas initially embraced the change, since they were experiencing underfunded public schools and deteriorating test scores. Under this program, students spend school days on their laptops and go online for lesson plans and quizzes. This program initially seemed positive since it allowed students to complete work at their own pace. The roles of teachers are to assist students with their work, hold mentoring sessions, and lead special projects. The system is free to schools. The laptops are usually bought separately by the school. Ultimately, the program was negatively affecting students. Students came home with headaches and hand cramps. Others said they felt more anxious. The program limits socialization and interaction by assigning work that is done independently. This prevents students from maintaining relationships with their classmates or teachers. Many parents pulled their children out of school because they weren’t satisfied with the new educational approach. Kansas parent Tyson Koenig expressed his opinion, “We’re allowing the computers to teach and the kids all looked like zombies.” A school district survey at McPherson middle school showed that 77 percent of parents said they preferred that their child not be in a classroom that uses Summit. The resistance in Kansas is now becoming part of a nationwide opposition to Summit. This platform is now enforced in around 380 schools and used by 74,000 students. As more schools utilize the platform, the resistance will continue to grow. In Indiana, Pa., after a survey by Indiana University of Pennsylvania found 70 percent of students wanted Summit dropped or made optional, the school board voted this month to terminate it. Zuckerberg originally said that Summit’s program would help meet the student’s individual needs and interests” and that technology “frees up time for teachers to do what they do best — mentor students.” According to Zuckerberg, this platform was originally meant to assist students. However, this program is hurting students rather than helping them and will continue to affect the lives of students, parents, and teachers everywhere as long as the program exists. What are your thoughts on the program?