Four lessons were brought home to us in 2020:
We can change if we are forced to, that things do not have to be run the same way as they used to for the sake of tradition, that the old rules do not matter and new can be made to work if we put our minds to it. We learnt to live without the four walls of the classroom, without school bells, without physical textbooks. We learnt the difference between what was core to learning, and what was imposed for the convenience of the system.
We learnt our purpose. Our purpose was not just content, but community. Our purpose was not curriculum and assessments, it was building strength, and sharing connections. We taught our students to survive and grow against odds, and demonstrated it. They will carry this with them for life.
We learnt, as educators, that we left so many behind, even as we thought we had got them into school. And as the stark inequity got exposed, we realised one truth – that soft infrastructure mattered more than the hard. Great teachers found a way even when there were no resources, no internet to support them. The will of teachers, kept the wheel moving forward, held it together. We found our core.
We learnt to learn again. We learnt to forgive ourselves, and try again. As teachers, we learnt that we did not have to rule the classroom to engage it, it was okay not to be the boss, it was okay to not be in control as long as we could keep weaving, keep the threads together. Some days it was a loose weave, other days a tighter knit one. We kept the looms clacking, made sure the thread did not break. We learnt to tie knots in threads, and start again. We taught learning, as we learnt it anew.
Here are a few more things that 2020 taught us, and we were forced to face these truths.
The inequities in education are stark, and basic.
We can change
Even as we change, we have to pull others along with us
For the new to work, we have to put in the work
We are all in the business of learning, not just the students
When we are forced to let go of our fears …. when we cross the portal… we find a better place
We are innovators and we are unbounded in our duties
When we build new capacities, we become stronger. When we cannibalise ourselves, we survive.
The business of education does not run cheap, it’s working capital cycle needs to keep moving
Four walls do not make education, the relationship between students and teachers does
The work of education is not just teaching and testing, it is building resilience and renewal.
And a few more. The good news is that these sound simple now that we have faced them. In any decade, these would have seemed impossible. Time to pause, and realise that this has been a tough, hard journey. And that it is not over yet.
And now, here’s wishing everyone a better 2021. Look forward to seeing you again in the new year, and building a better way, a more honest way of teaching and learning that makes it easier for all. Because now, we have built new capacities within us, and with technology. We will not let them go to waste, and will design for what matters. To make it better.
Happy New Year