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NOT LEARNING. LEARNING TO to do school in the Covid-19 Crisis.

I just came across a great podcast.

Two professors from University of Georgia say the way we are “doing school” at the moment is not homeschooling, or online learning or distance learning and to call them that is unethical. What we are doing is “crisis learning”. You see, homeschooling and distance learning are very specific pedagogies and educational philosophies and to say we can suddenly overnight put the typical way of PreK-12 schooling onto parents is disingenuous of the school system. To ask parents to be their child’s teacher in the midst of this crisis is not only difficult for everyone – its wrong to do so.

“What we are doing right now is something different. Schooling and its purposes can change in the blink of an eye when society is in shock and crisis” say the authors. We have been caught up in a system of narrow and rigid expectations, testing and somewhat of a “rat-race” when it comes to educating our children. This has caused a whole myriad of social problems in our schools: inequitable behavior management, lack of outside playtime, a de-valuing of the emotional life of a child, and the almost total elimination of the arts so we can spend more time “measuring learning outcomes”.

This is our “great pause”.

We can stop and think about what values are truly important when it comes to our children’s learning. I think it is safe to say that what we are learning here is how to just be a family again. We are re-discovering our children. Maybe we should all take a collective “big deep sigh” and throw those thoughts of “but they will be behind” out the window. Behind who? The whole country, the whole world will be “behind”. At this point in time there’s nothing and no one to compare to. We are all going to be “behind”.

So parents – relax. Take that big deep breath along with every other parent in the country and think about those things that are truly important to your family. Connection and a sense of belonging are so important right now. Go on walks, take naps together, play together, allow your kids to follow their interests, wear your pajamas all day. And above all, put those workbooks away. They are not needed.

And teachers (we have several educators among our parent group so this is for you). Listen to this advice from the authors, “Learning to be means putting an end to the rat race, taking away tests, stopping the busy work, forgetting the grades you were expected to put into the system, ending judgments and punishments, and determining how you can best support your students during this life-altering moment. Teachers can learn to be with students and not over them”.

What I have heard as I connect with various families is that they are loving the re-connection to their kids and these kids are being amazingly creative with their time. They are drawing, making music, creating board games, looking in books to learn how to make things. This is all learning! Kids do lots of things that embody learning, just not those things that are driven by our adult agendas.

The kids themselves when asked what they enjoyed doing I hear things like bike rides, playing, nature walks, making forts, building gardens…. all learning. But actually, what I’m hearing most from the mouths of the kids themselves when asked about what they are doing is “nothing.”

Kids can teach us the most important lesson of all during this crisis. Its OK to do “nothing”. They teach us just to to be. We can all learn “to be”. Let follow our kid’s lead and be happier and healthier as a result of this crisis.

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