I’m not a fan of “distance learning.”
There, I said it and before expanding further I want to be perfectly clear that this has nothing to do with the school district my children attend or the quality of education they are receiving. This is not a two sided topic; in complete honesty I see it more as a five sided complexity.
The distance learning way of life does not just involve teacher and student. It also involves administration, parent as well as extended family. Make no mistake, we are all just trying to figure out how to navigate this new “remote” world.
As I type that it makes me shudder. I’m the anti-device mom. Prior to this pandemic, it was already a discipline to ensure my children limited their screen time, now … well now it’s a daily must. Gone, temporarily, are the days of interaction with others most especially teachers and classmates.
Oh sure, they “see” one another on Google classroom. They learn and they participate, but can I just share this feels like we’re living in space. It’s a weird thing to peek in mid-morning and see my kids talking to a Chromebook or photo squares. Stranger still is seeing my daughter place her laptop on her bed while she does burpees, planks and the like in front of a computer.
It’s all just weird and while I get everyone is doing the best that they can during an unprecedented time, I have two key points.
My first concern is the long term social and psychological effects this will have not only on the students but all of us. Humans are not meant to be shut-ins or hermits. We are social beings. Having a place to go each day and interacting with others is food for the soul, as well as a release from home life which is healthy.
Case in point, a few weeks into the school year I received a call from one of my student’s school counselor. Amidst everything that is going on in this crazy world, my children are also navigating through the world of cancer as their mom became a lab rat earlier this year.
So as the counselor called to follow up on some missing assignments, she failed to connect with the human side of what life may be like for a student at home, which is now also their classroom. Her tone was condescending when I admitted to still learning who the kid’s teachers were, not to mention gauging their progress just three weeks in.
Again, in this five sided equation we are all doing the best that we can. This is a time like never before that patience, understanding, as well as compassion are critical for everyone involved. None of us chose this.
Then there’s the confusion that I continue to return to every morning when I look at the news and see highlight reels of protests, streets filled with people in the name of “justice”? Why is this okay? Why are intelligent people I once respected arguing over wearing a mask at all times, yet supporting this unlawful behavior during a time of “social distancing.”
Oh yes, I’m a journalist, trust me I value and understand freedom of speech as well as speaking up for ones right. But in a time when it is against the rules to host large gatherings, eat in a restaurant, attend a funeral, host a graduation or have students sit in a classroom why is this allowed?
I truthfully don’t know that this will ever make sense to my simple mind.
To the reader who began reading, thinking I could make sense of this – I’m sorry. To the reader who understands why protesting is okay, but my student sitting in a classroom properly distanced is not okay – I’m sorry.
Mostly this is for my fellow confused; you are not alone. Our tribe of confused, frustrated and concerned is bigger than the media gives time to. We are not uninformed. We know of the pandemic, the risk and the safety precautions and that … well, that is why we are so confused.
Godspeed and God help us all.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.