Online Learning, Covid Style
I would like to take this opportunity right here, right now, to show my immense appreciation and gratitude to teachers. You do what I cannot do. You have the patience that I will never have. You amaze me every day. Teachers, I love you. And I respect you. Will you marry me? I'll do anything, if you'll only promise to never leave me again. School is a point of contention in our household. I love it, my husband loves it, my daughter likes it occasionally, and my son hates it. I can't say that I blame him either. He has ADHD and is the square peg trying to fit into the round hole when it comes to getting along at school. In the couple months leading up to spring break 2020, he was completely unable to be in his classroom all day. I would get phone calls from the school telling me that he was hanging out in the hallway with the Education Assistant because the class was too distracting. We toyed with the idea of homeschooling him. But after a trial period of about 5 days where we brought him home at midday, we realised that we didn't have the stamina for it. He asks a lot of fucking questions. They come rapid-fire, like bullets out of a semi-automatic, and he doesn't wait for the answer to the first one before asking the next twelve. The vast majority of them are obscure, or require a PhD in something like mechanical, aeronautical, or medical engineering. Despite our best efforts, he wasn't interested in going on hikes or bike rides, or doing any at-home learning. He just wanted to watch tv and play Minecraft. In the end, we worked to get him back to school for full days and agreed that we would not be bringing up homeschooling again. Ever. Obviously we all know how that turned out when lockdown rolled around. Can we just agree that there are certain things that you need an actual human in front of you for? Yes, we have amazing technology at our disposal. Yes, it has opened up the world and made things possible that were previously impossible. But as a species, we have not yet evolved past the need for human connection. The in-person kind (I can't even believe I have to specify that.) We'll know when we've evolved past it because we won't ever feel lonely. In fact, we probably won't feel anything at all. We won't feel an urge to fall in love, or have sex, or make a real friend. Until that day, a day that I hope never comes for mankind, we still need each other: not virtually, but physically. Which is why this whole virtual schooling thing is not going to work. The platform our school is using for online learning is meant for adults, therefore it has a chat box as well as the video function. At any point, students with unlimited access to their technology and minimal parent supervision can contact their teachers day and night. And they have. At all hours of the night. The school has sent out numerous emails to the parents asking them to get a handle on their kids so they don't interrupt the private lives of their teachers. It's been a disaster. But that doesn't even begin to describe the online learning portion. Each day the class has a morning meeting from 09:30-09:50. It goes a little like this: “Good morning Tiana…good morning Tiana…can you unmute yourself please? Tiana? Please can you unmute yourself? Okay I think there's an issue there, good morning Rashid, can you mute your mic please, there's too much noise in the background. I need those students that are currently using the chat box to post memes and videos to please stop because it's distracting.” That carries on for a few minutes. Then the teacher says, “Okay so now that everyone is here, we're going to do our greeting chain.” The first time I heard that, I thought, surely there must be a mistake. She just greeted everyone, didn't she? But alas, they must now greet each other. The greeting chain has a theme based on the first letter of the day of the week, such as “Wine Guzzling Wednesday” or “Fuck This Pandemic Friday.” Its success was dependent entirely on the students' level of interest (somewhere in the negative numbers for my son) and willingness to participate. While I think the exercise was an unprecedented waste of time and resources, I found plenty to be amused by. My personal favourite was when the class was playing 20 questions. The teacher held up a paper bag and asked everyone to guess what was inside. After about 47 questions, the kids had it pinned down as a food item and proceeded to list off every variety of orange they could think of. Kid: Is it an orange? Teacher: It is not an orange. Kid: Is it a clementine? Teacher: It is not a clementine. It's not an orange. Kid:…Is it a mandarin? Teacher: O.K. you guys, it's not an orange. Kid: Is it a blood orange? Teacher: *exasperated* It is NOT an orange. Kid: Is it a tangerine? Teacher: IT'S A BAGEL. A BAGEL! IT'S A BAGEL! NOT AN ORANGE! A BAGEL! AND NOW IT'S COLD! *sigh* Lets work on multiplication now.