It’s fair to say that change is not always pleasant or welcome in life, especially when it is forced upon us – in many cases – against our will. There can be no greater example of this than the current COVID-19 pandemic and the tidal wave of change being thrust upon the lives of, literally, every human being on the planet. And yet, even as it starts to sink in that 7 billion people are, in some way, affected by this, the even greater sadness would be for us to pass up the opportunity to learn from all of this and seize the moment to make some serious and fundamental changes to the way ours 7 billion strong community goes about conducting its human race business. And, if I got a vote, I would start with our children.
Though officially a sexagenarian now, I well-enough still remember my public school days(70’s -induced holes in my memory notwithstanding) to recall that my school day ran 6 hours. I remember that there were papers to fill out, homework to trudge through, annoying teachers and principles that always seemed to be pissed off, and – best of all – cafeteria Lunch Ladies and friends and playgrounds and recess! And I remember, still, that I spent the rest of my School life wishing those first six years had lasted a whole lot longer because of how much the last six felt like torture and drudgery. And boredom.
In the wake of suggested social distancing and, essentially mandatory shelter-in-place orders, and with the vast majority of school districts shutting down and sending kids home to continue their education online, for all intents and purposes public education – as we have known it for Generations- is dead.
And I’m not so sure this is a bad thing.
In my case, and in presumably many cases around most of the world – wherever there are parents still lucky enough to be able to work- people and Families are scrambling to find creative ways to facilitate the continuing education of their children. This was no easy task even before, let alone how much more difficult literally everything has become since the pandemic arrived. And yet, here we are – a couple of weeks in -and the COVID-19 School Of Higher Learning has settled in and kids are back in class. It’s honestly a testament to our Collective creativity and sheer will that this is even happening, but somehow it is of little surprise.
As a grandparent (although my Grands prefer to call me “Boomer” when we are cutting up), I have been called in to supervise my guys working through their assignments online with their teacher on the other end. They are able to message each other, video chat where necessary, and ask questions throughout the course of their “class” time. And, while nowhere near the same as my own school experience, this new way of doing things is far better and more efficient and I’m guessing a lot less stressful on the teachers. And it clearly eliminates discipline issues and disruptive behavior issues across the board. And the time needed to go through all of the materials for the day’s work is cut almost in half, taking 3 to 4 hours rather than six and a half.
Know what else is better? We have completely eradicated school shootings; Not one school shooting has occurred since we took the teachers and the kids out of the schools and put them in their jammies in the comfort of their own safe homes.
To be sure, there are holes to be filled regarding physical activities and so-called electives such as band and chorus and music classes and extracurricular activities such as Sports, but there is no reason to believe that, with some more creativity and sheer will, these things can be addressed. Hell, who knows? Maybe we will resuscitate Boys & Girls Clubs, the YMCA, and YWCA, or invent altogether new physical activity organizations to fill these gaps.
History continues to teach us that sometimes when we least expect it and have no plans in place to adequately prepare for it, an epic crisis of enormous magnitude is just the sort of thing our species needs in order to discover and effect changes that ultimately make the world a better place.