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Imagine that? Well, no need to imagine as this online high school’s students say they’re making ‘real friends’ and meaningful connections in the virtual classroom.
It’s almost impossible to imagine a high school environment completely devoid of bullying or social ‘disconnects’. An environment where everyone can be themselves and are able to pursue their interests and hobbies without fear of scrutiny from their peers.
Every school tends to have its designated groups: often broken up into those who play sports and those who don’t. These ‘groupings’ often result in peripheral students feeling forced to participate in activities they don’t want to in order to ‘fit in’. On the flip side, students might also choose not to engage in particular extra-curricular activities, like drama or music to avoid being made fun of.
Traditional school can often force a particular form of socialisation, a type of social ‘policing’ which tends to be damaging, toxic, and mean, and which undoubtedly has short and long-term effects on some students’ mental health.
But imagine a learning environment and safe space where teenagers treat each other with respect, where interaction isn’t forced, where you can separate yourself if you wish, but still be around people.
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A lot of Valenture Institute’s students say that their mental health has improved since joining this online high school. There is no bullying and the teachers encourage that kind of social dynamic in all their classes.
“Nothing is imposed on you,” says one student.
Students reiterate that they’re not forced to like everyone, they can decide for themselves as there is no ‘we are a family’ mentality. It’s more ‘adult’ that way.
“You don’t have to fake it,” says another student. Students choose friends more ‘actively’ as the nature of online means that you have to connect on more than just one level with someone else (like just being an athlete or just being in the same physical school space or sports team together) to really and truly connect.
As a result, many of the school’s students say that they’ve made more ‘real friends’ in the virtual classroom than they ever did at ‘normal’ school.
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