Kids and pandemic, pandemic and kids. No, I’m NOT looking for a pattern or a palindrome here. Instead, just turning our attention to the silent sufferers in this entire saga, our children.
While this is an unprecedented situation for the entire world and the human race in general, I see that it has impacted our young children to a great extent, physically, mentally and emotionally.
To start with, they were suddenly asked to stop going to schools and abandon their regular busy-as-hell lives. Unexpected school holidays are always welcome for children, but here there were caveats. They couldn’t spend this time playing with their friends, or swinging in the park, or visiting grandparents. They were told to stay indoors instead of getting pushed to take in some fresh air and sunlight and exercise.
They must have found it strange to find their fathers and mothers at home all day long. No going to office, no hearing the cribs about the traffic on the way back home. No shopping malls or restaurants or movies or parties. We hardly stepped out, but anytime we did, we made them wear masks. We told them not to touch things, and made them wash their hands a zillion times.
Once the schools “reopened” online, it’s been a very confusing time for the children, academically. All their lives they’ve been told about the ill effects of mobile phones and television and staring at screens. “Screen time” was controlled and rationed. Now they’re spending most of their awake-time on gadgets. With weeks of online classes already done, many of them have compromised vision, all thanks to this “new normal”. (And we’re thinking twice about getting their eyes tested, for fear of catching the virus.)
While watching my 9-year old daughter attend her morning online classes, I can’t help but laud the heroes who are making online learning possible – our teachers. With some having little or almost no working knowledge about computers and technology in general, they are the ones who have overcome the most hurdles in this transition from offline to online! Studying the lessons beforehand and teaching face to face using a black/white board is what they’ve been used to. Now they have to prepare all the notes for the same, upload these on the study portals, and then teach the children looking at a screen. Like me, many of them would be mothers too, with their own children at home. Most of them have taken a pay cut due to “bad economy”, but they are having to work twice as hard to make meaningful learning possible.
Things haven’t been easy for us parents either. This transition has been challenging, more so for working parents, who have had to juggle housework, office work, children’s online classes, all at once, and that too without the comfort of house helpers. We have the task of supervising the children during the online classes and then getting them to do the assignments and uploading them to the portal for teachers to check.
Is there anything that can be done to make things better for everyone? I’ve been thinking about it and wondering what our education system can do in the current situation.
I do appreciate the efforts taken by the schools concerned, but they must be reminded that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, a situation that has never been encountered by anyone who has lived on this planet for a hundred years. Instead of trying so hard to maintain “normalcy” at all costs, why not just give the children and everyone else time off so to say? Let the children rewind and recharge their batteries. The time can be used to learn those essential life skills like empathy and getting a sense of helping parents around in the daily household chores.
In their zeal to keep their shops running and to justify the fee structure, schools are going out of their way to make life hell for children and the teachers, with the pressure of assignments and exams, albeit all online. Is this at all necessary? After all, an academic year gone from their lives will not impact their life on the whole in the years to come, considering that they will be studying or involved in the instructional structure of life well into their 20s. In 4th grade, I’d rather they be educated about Life 101, than mugging up the structure of the teeth to reproduce in an online exam.
There’s still some time for the year to go. May better sense prevail and may we all think about getting more perspective in life rather than focus on this rat race.
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