Accomplish Your GOA(L)s With GOAs

Emily Bernhardt   Are you interested in a subject that Latin doesn’t offer? Latin is a small private school. Though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and certainly comes with its own advantages, Latin does not have the capacity or resources to dedicate classes to covering certain obscure topics. Latin’s small size can make it feel like you are taking all of your classes with the same group of people every day. Again, not a bad thing, but an undeniable part of the Latin experience. For those who feel the same way and want to partake in a totally new educational experience, the Global Online Academy (GOA) welcomes you.  GOA offers dozens of courses, covering almost everything from Japanese to Linear Algebra. Art, Media and Design, Learning Studios, Mathematics and Technology, Science and Health, Social Sciences, and World Languages are the categories from which learners can choose from. Some of GOA’s most popular courses include Abnormal Psychology, Global Health, Game Theory, Medical Problem Solving, Arabic, 9/11 in a Global Context, and Creative Nonfiction. Taking a GOA comes with its own perks. For example, Mary Ellen Mack ‘19, states that, “you are exposed to people that you would have never meet.” Sophie Furlow ‘19, who takes the Medical Problem Solving GOA, has seen this in action. When meeting her GOA teacher over Skype, she was surprised, but excited, to find that her teacher works at the American School in Japan. Teachers aren’t the only GOA members that participate from a wide spectrum of countries. Students take part from independent schools in places including India, South Africa, Germany, and China, just to a few. Because of this international diversity, Latin students get to work with students and teachers of a diverse set of cultures and ages. In fact, GOA even states on their website that they expect their students to “collaborate with peers who are not sitting with them on campus” and “communicate and empathize with people living in areas of the world that are culturally different from their own.” For better or for worse, the “Latin bubble” exists, but taking a GOA is just one way for Latin students to step out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to learn in a completely new environment. GOA classes also teach students how to learn in new and different ways outside of a conventional classroom setting, which cannot be replicated at Latin. Bernie Noe, the principal of The Lakeside School in Seattle, is an advocate for GOA and encourages his students to be involved in the program. On GOA’s website, Noe points out that, “you need to learn how to learn online, because in almost any professional setting, that will be part of what you’re expected to do.” Though completely online, GOA describes its teaching style as “hands-on” and pushes their students to learn how to “organize their time,” think critically, and “take responsibility for their learning” by self-advocating. Becoming an “independent learner” is another benefit that comes with taking a GOA course, along with studying a subject of choice. Robert Kelly ‘19, who is taking a GOA Fiction Writing class, points out that “[you] can’t take any creative writing electives [at Latin] as a sophomore,” so he decided to take initiative and learn outside of Latin. Robert, as well as many high-schoolers globally, have noticed that they are unable to fully explore certain skills and subjects that are less common at smaller schools like Latin. GOA courses give students access to pursue their individual passions, without as many restrictions that many Latin classes might have. Though Latin offers GOAs as an option on a few class forms at the beginning of the year, a significant number of Latin students don’t know that GOA classes exist, since they are rarely publicized at gatherings, grade level meetings, advisories, or in emails. When schedules are being filled out, for most students, a GOA is the last thing on their mind. Even those who have heard about GOAs and are considering taking them are unsure of how to sign up, since they are so rarely advertised. Natalie Wexler ‘19 sees this as a problem because she believes that “a lot of students could have benefitted from knowing about these classes because they teach topics that aren’t necessarily taught at Latin that kids are interested in.” Aside from GOAs not getting much press, many students are unsure of the amount of work they bring. The reputation of GOAs as being difficult and time-consuming scares away potential students each semester. Many refrain from taking these classes because they think their course load, sports schedule, or extracurriculars are already too demanding— anything more would be too stressful. One sophomore, who wished to remain anonymous, is registered to take Comparative Politics but is considering dropping out. She says, “even though I want to keep it, I’m taking a lot of classes and the overload is crazy.” Summer Abraham ‘19, wanted to take a GOA in Introduction to Psychology but remembered that “both of [her] advisors initially did not recommend for [her] to take a GOA, because they thought that it would take up too much time and would be overwhelming.” Teachers and students alike worry about the workload that comes with taking a GOA, so they are usually not suggested for stressed students with already busy schedules. However, ambitious students who have multiple free periods and are able to manage their time efficiently often thrive while learning a course tailored to their interests. GOAs are always an option for Latin students and are a great way to gain new learning skills, while also pursuing a personal interest. When course requests come out, be sure to check out GOA’s website and talk to a teacher or advisor to get more information!]]>