This has been the way, and will always be.
COVID 19 has changed the reality of education possibly forever. We have been pushed to explore new ways of learning, all the while acknowledging that we may be facing a dearth of resources – both in terms of materials and simply even information around how to tackle this new world order. With the reduction of man power at every level of the work force, with slashes in pay and supremely limited research and predictions for and about the future, what can we really base our decisions on? Feeling stuck, or simply just confused regarding the decisions that are to be made has excluded no one. Regardless of being parents, teachers, school leaders, helping staff and students, these moments of confusion have excluded no one. Again, how do we make the ‘right’ choices right now?
As parents, we have already assumed multiple roles even before the pandemic and now have had to pick up an increased responsibility in our child’s learning with schools being shut. Even with the shifts to virtual learning, it is obvious that the demand for parental support might possibly only increase. How are we to decide how much time to spend with our child(ren)? I am expected to also deliver at work and it is more dire to deliver well at work now more than ever. What work milestones can I afford to compromise? And certainly, the house cannot run itself – how much time would I have to allocate for the hundred things that prop up simultaneously? Above all am I a bad parent for not being available to my child[ren] during this time?
As teachers, we are all learning to rely on virtual platforms entirely now – how do we still reach all children? Can I still be as effective as I used to be when things were ‘normal’? How can we still make sure that that one child gets that extra support? I certainly can’t get the child to sit next to me anymore, I can only hope he’s paying attention to the video in front of him/her and hope that parents supporting enough with home assignments. But much more importantly, as a teacher a part of my job has been to prepare my students for the future – the image of the future we’ve painted all this long may not even be the reality into which my students will enter now. Towards what end am I teaching now? What should my students really be learning now? How do I get over the fear of these new nuances that have just gotten added to this already complicated job?
As a School Leader, most of us have been faced with some of the most difficult conflicts – from simple emails to decisions as significant as deciding who the keep, who to let go off? If we choose to ensure holding on the entire teams, from where can I channelize the funds with zero improvements on the financial front? Do I base this on the reality of the lives of all my staff? Or based on need of the school? What is the right decision here?
As a helping-attenders at school, I am worried today that without schools physically open, if my job is secure. I understand that it only logical that my skills are not being needed at the moment at school, but I also rely heavily on this occupation to support my living. Finding work elsewhere also seems bleak now? How do I support myself and my family?
As a student I am confused – my routines have changed, I don’t get to meet my friends as much anymore and my parents keeps telling me that stepping might make me and my family sick. I am trying to learn from the laptop, but sometimes it’s difficult and I get bored, but my parents and teachers keep saying that this is only way for at least a few months. How does all this work? Sometimes I think my parents and teachers are also confused. What should I do?
We think the answers simply lie within you – And we aren’t the only ones saying this. Research for years has pointed in this direction for a while now; a direction that recognizes that every context is different, and in most contexts, there lies no right answers. That lived experiences are drastically different for each person, and trying a solution that comes from the ‘one-size-fits-all’ principle simply does not and will not work. Joseph Schwab, and his students have researched the very same questions – where do the answers lie in education? They say, it lies in what they call the ‘Personal Practical Knowledge’. In simpler words, the answers lie within you. As a parent, teacher, school leader, student there is no judgement in what we choose to do. We have all been faced with a scenario where no answers have yet been found and no research can sufficiently answer specific questions, simply because our contexts differ. Nel Nodding says, that at the centre of education is care. That it is this that drives the entire concept teaching and learning, that listening to the needs of our stakeholders determine the ‘right’ direction. Kenneth Tobin points out that the organic conversations between teachers is what helps building useful ways of moving forward. Though physically we have been made to distance ourselves, these times have made ‘being connected’ more crucial than ever before – as in only these interactions can we find the answers.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”