Saturday, April 25, 2020

What if kids end up ahead instead of falling behind?

It's not always about book learning and academic skills. In fact, when it comes to life and growing up, it's almost never really about book learning and academic skills. That's been a theme and an emphasis of my writing and my "teaching" over the years, for I look askance at the utilitarian skill and content basis of so much schooling. And, that view is central to my mantra for years that "not every kid needs to go to a four year college," and not every kid needs more time in school.

And, perhaps that's why I am smiling and nodding in approval with the anonymous Facebook post which has been floating around which poses this question:  "What if instead of falling behind, kids are advanced because of this?"

As we struggle and fret and worry and lament all that is being lost by the new normal of "remote learning" in education, and kids not being physically present in brick-and-mortar schools, we might consider some positives that could occur. And, let's be clear, this is not to dismiss or discount the equity gap in education and the serious challenges and access issues this will exacerbate for our neediest students, especially in terms of socioeconomic disparity. However, we can still consider that fortuitous benefits can and will occur for all in some ways. Here are a few interesting questions and thoughts from the post:

“What if they have more empathy, they enjoy family connection, they can be more creative and entertain themselves, they love to read, they love to express themselves in writing.

“What if they enjoy the simple things, like their own backyard and sitting near a window in the quiet.

“What if they notice the birds and the dates the different flowers emerge, and the calming renewal of a gentle rain shower?

“What if this generation are the ones to learn to cook, organize their space, do their laundry, and keep a well run home?

I think we are all considering the ways in which we individually, and society at large, might grow and learn and progress through this strange, unprecedented experience. In the early days of the stay-at-home, I posed the question: How much of the good stuff do you think we'll keep after this is all over?
More family time. More games and art. More creative homemaking. More re-evaluation of the important things. 

What if we focus on how we can all end up ahead?

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