Educating our children in the new normal

THE EDITOR: As we see many school districts resuming the year, many adopting innovative ways to provide the same level of instruction that was available pre-covid19, it is mindful to note that in the context of this resumption a great deal has changed.

It is reasonable to infer that the usual equilibrium that espoused the learning environment of many students is now very different. Some students have witnessed their parents suddenly go on the breadline. Others have had to deal with seeing family or friends afflicted by the virus, even coming to terms with death for the first time.

Also important to note is the reality that many of these young minds, though silent, have had to witness a world in some degree of chaos and confusion, as nations try to address the consequences of this pandemic.

Our children have now been impacted socially and emotionally and they have found themselves in circumstances that are far from the normal that they are used to. We must be prudent in the way forward as we reposition them on the educational track.

We are now asking them to make many adjustments to their lives, such as online instruction, in a different physical and social environment. The absence of physical contact must not be understated. The requirement in some cases for our students to supervise themselves, as some parents continue to work, presents a demand for a degree of maturity in an 11-year-old who has not yet developed.

It is clear to me that their disposition for learning would also have been impacted. It would be necessary to provide a reasonable period for them to adjust to this new normal. I hold the view that we cannot have the same expectations for their academic appetite to be initially the same as pre-covid19.

We must provide sufficient opportunities for these students to rearrange their minds, attitudes and perspectives to the new normal that elicits fears in many of us, but significantly so in the minds of our children. While they may not openly express their concerns, they do exist and are being debated cognitively in their young and impressionable minds.

I think that this is a classic situation where "less may be more." As the social, political and learning environment moves to more stability, so will our children's attitude, application and attentiveness to these online platforms. The rigidity of the eight-period class schedule, and the demands being made of these students, may be met by a degree of resentment, frustration and disenchantment; a reasonable response to a multifaceted dilemma – the kind that they would never have endured before.


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"Educating our children in the new normal"

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