The virus is here to stay, for a while. We will have to learn to live with the virus and continue to survive. It was always evident that getting to a vaccine, would take at least 18 months, and even if it was found, there would be at least another year, or more before it could be administered to a significant proportion of us, the billions of humans on earth. Till all of us are safe, none of us are safe.
Once we realised this, it was time for our primal instinct to kick in – survival. Education was among the first to react, not because education is essential (which it is), but because educational institutions realised at a very fundamental level that they would not survive unless they dived into emergency survival mode. Remote learning took on an urgency that it had never seen when we were talking about poor and tribal groups away from mainstream learning. Online learning was adopted with a will not seen in the good old ICT4Ed days, when the same arguments fell on deaf ears.
Schools, and education institutions now knew, that unless they adapted, they would not survive. Two years without schools, people would realise that we could manage without them just fine in their roles as teaching shops and exam administrators. They needed to change, and change for good. As a first step, they put in emergency measures, to establish their stakes in the ground. Relevance and validation could come later, for that you needed to be in the conversation.
And so, the rapid transformation to online learning was activated. Schools, teachers, students, parents – all joined in with a will. Only to be faced with all the problems that they had stubbornly refused to tackle in the classroom. Asynchronous learning. To listen to the edu conversations these days, one would think that teachers did not realise that students learn at a different pace. Of course they knew, but only good teachers knew how to teach at multiple speeds in the same session. The others, well, they ‘took’ the class. The inability to communicate with students-this too was made stark by the change in medium.
Great teachers are doing just fine, and are able to teach, discuss, chat, explore and inspire. The others, often a majority are anxious, having come face to face with their own inabilities. Some revert to the old control measures, hoping to substitute competence with fear – school uniforms, roll calls, even threats that this will be bad for their exams, and their futures – I have heard all of these in recordings. It is a pity that these teachers are looking to the past for refuge, when that past has gone. There is no secure footing in bad practices anymore. They will have to do better.
To be fair to the teachers, and to the schools, this was their emergency response. This was the time when flaws and problems would exacerbate. Imagine, if you have not repaired an electric circuit system in your school for years, and then the school catches fire. You know that this old, unmaintained, poor quality system will explode. In a way, you always knew that a new way of handling it was necessary.
At this stage, let us all acknowledge, a new way of doing school is necessary.
Now that we know, or rather, have been able to convince the education community of what we knew, it is time to take a deep breath – and ask them the next question:
Do You have a School Continuity Plan?
Do you need help in creating a School Continuity Plan?