It took the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) to bring America’s educational system to an abrupt halt. The nationwide teacher protests related to low salaries and working conditions did not do it. Low test scores and graduation rates did not stop us from proceeding (business as usual). Bullying and mass school gun violence across the nation only temporarily stopped the morning school bells from ringing. Surprisingly, this unbelievable public health crisis has caused one of the biggest moments in our modern world history – – a seemingly extended spring break. The world got shook!
Now that we are in the position to reflect, perhaps there is no better time for us to “Relook, Release, Rethink, Reimagine” what our post COVID-19 educational system could look like. Right now, millions of parents are finding ways to engage their children in activities to keep them safe, moving and learning. The recent school closures should not negate the fact that children must continue learning, progressing in the fundamentals of reading, writing and mathematics. There are educational resources and opportunities for parents to use with their children online and via other learning materials (games, puzzles, books, etc.). For the time being, the outdoors, even one’s own small yard, can become a science classroom laboratory allowing the young to observe and explore nature. A simple walk with a parent becomes PE class (children usually love physical education class). My point is that hopefully everyone realizes that educating one’s child need not stop with COVID-19. As I’ve stated before, parents are the first teachers. Even during this brief experience, their roles as “substitute teachers” is crucial. Parents also get the opportunity to experience the rewards and challenges of teaching.
Our educational and healthcare systems both have attributes in common. All Americans engage and interact with them from birth through death (elementary schools, colleges, doctors visits, prescriptions, and let’s not forget taxes). They are both fundamental to the healthy formation and longevity of most modern societies. Everyone would agree that having them in our society is invaluable to its citizenry. And when broken, we all suffer as a collective. As COVID-19 has exposed, something’s been said (wrong, not working, suspicious), and it needs to get fixed quickly. COVID-19 will abate eventually… we hope. And when it does, what will change in our society, as separate yet interdependent humans, especially since the impact has become painfully obvious.
Our national educational system is on break. Some would say it was broken in many areas before now. How will we view teacher’s issues going forward? Have we been triggered enough to take a fresh look at any of our systemic patterns, trends and challenges thought to be unsolvable? Maybe we will change our minds about how best to teach children going forward so that they become free thinking, problem solving, self sufficient and collaborative humans. Will online teaching become the norm? I like inquiry-based learning as a teaching modality. Check it out for yourself. I won’t explain further … we all temporarily have more time to learn something new (adults and children alike). Let’s use our “shook-ness” (please indulge my urban euphemism for a moment) for good, making positive, measurable systemic changes. Let’s just do it!