Flipped Classroom is not ideal

Elsa Dahlgren, Staff Writer

In eighth grade I walked into my first day of Algebra Two and was presented with the concept that I would not be taught the lessons in class, but rather have to learn them at home by myself then come into school the next day ready to move on. 

My algebra teacher was highly optimistic that this style, known as flipped classroom, would be the new innovative way of learning for students, primarily implemented in math classes. It was designed to allow students to take the time they need individually to fully process the material, and start/stop the lesson as needed, but personally it imposed more challenges than flexibility. 

But, I disagree. Flipped classroom does not create an optimal learning environment. 

Harvard University defines flipped classroom as, “structured around the idea that lecture or direct instruction is not the best use of class time. Instead students encounter information before class, freeing class time for activities that involve higher order thinking.”

Seemingly, math teachers are often in support of this learning style, as it gives students the opportunity to learn at their own pace. 

Math teacher Blain Lakin describes the benefits of flipped classrooms. “Kids do work in class and have time for questions. Students may need to learn this way for future career training or post secondary classes, and if you fall behind, you have a way to catch up.”

However, the disadvantages don’t go unnoticed.

“Students may not have the attention span or know how to watch videos and take notes- so that would be difficult. They also can’t ask questions in the moment” Lakin said. 

For the first year I did flipped classroom, I tried my hardest to convince myself that this modern learning method was the best way for me to absorb the information. I gave it my utmost effort, writing down notes along the way, coming in with questions; I fully embraced the fact that I had to watch video lessons. 

Despite my continuous efforts to learn through videos, I was never able to comprehend the information. While its purpose is to encompass more learning styles, flipped classrooms deprive students and teachers of the connection needed to understand what the class needs at that moment.

This year, in AP Calculus AB, I learned the lessons live from a teacher for the first time since algebra one. Rediscovering the traditional classroom format, empathized the difference between learning the lessons live in class and learning off a video. 

In just one lesson, there may be many times where my Calculus class needs to go back and relearn, or have a teacher further explain a concept because the majority of the class is confused. Live lessons also allow students to hear their classmates’ questions, which often gives them a further understanding of the topic. 

Staying engaged inside the classroom through live lessons has not only helped me comprehend the material, but also create a connection with my teacher where I feel comfortable asking questions. Occasionally when learning through flipped classroom, I would feel so lost, and have so many questions that I just avoided asking the teacher all together, leading me to fall behind.

Many students are in a similar situation, learning through a video and then feeling like they’re completely on their own when learning the material.

“Any time I watch a video lesson at home and I’m confused I end up in a cycle of rewatching the video over and over again,” junior Caroline Lee said. “When there’s no teacher to ask an immediate question, I get stuck and it makes it difficult to move on.”

The previous year of learning online gave math teachers another reason to boycott flipped classroom. Many have described the 2020-2021 school year as a year of “learning loss.” To fully regain the knowledge students missed out on, it’s essential teachers present their lessons in person.

“After spending so much time online and watching hundreds of math video lessons, I want to learn in person and have more face to face interaction with my teachers,” Lee said. “It’s hard for me to sit through those videos after watching so many.”

E-learning had students online for an entire year, so having the privilege of being back in the building should be fully taken advantage of by disconnecting from our computers when learning.

With the 2021-2022 school year coming to an end, and another year in person up and coming, the elimination of flipped classrooms would be a pivotal moment in improving our education at Lake Forest High School.