Covid Journal, May 21, 2020
School’s Out … FOREVER!
In Ontario, Stephen Lecce announced on May 20 that school will not reconvene until September, 2020 … at the earliest.
Meanwhile, old white men can continue to whack away at little white balls on clearcut fields for their own enjoyment.
School is out, golf is in.
I now understand our priorities.
And as parents are forced back to work (if they’re not already if they’re an essential worker), what support networks exist for their kids when the parents leave the house?
In making this move, Covid has exposed our educational trainwreck.
Teachers, parents and children everywhere are trying to make sense of the quagmire that is now our educational system.
Sadly, the Ford government got their way with online training, although I don’t think even they would have wanted it this way.
I used to try to keep an open mind about things and I even leaned towards the teachers, but after what I’ve seen with the rollout of online and Google Classroom structures, I now understand that teachers are not doing a very good job of doing what they’re supposed to: teach.
I’ve heard a few anecdotes about the great ones that host weekly or maybe even daily check-ins, but I haven’t seen anything like that. We get a post once a week saying ‘fill in this photocopied / scanned / image document and submit it by the end of the week’.
Sometimes there are links to other content. Sometimes there are links or attachments within links or attachments.
It’s like a trivial labyrinth set up by Daedalus himself.
Teachers have an opportunity right now to step things up and do their jobs. They can engage with students instead of just shrugging their shoulders and saying ‘oh well … Covid’. ‘It’s sad to see that kids aren’t following our maze of clicks and links and shitty photocopies and even stories or content … but what are we supposed to do about it?’
You can own it before it’s taken away.
But I have a feeling they will just let things slip away.
I asked one friend who’s a teacher about tracking and reporting and there is nothing. Everything is anecdotal right now, including the response to online learning. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. How is something that’s digital in nature not have tracking? How is a teacher not curious about their own performance in the wake of this situation?
Don’t they realize that the numbers will be used against them?
As I try to get engaged, all I seem to do is kick the proverbial hornet’s nest and get pushed away by possessive teachers. I am frustrated, to say the least, by the response. If you’re not doing your job and I feel obliged to make sure my child enters the world as an intelligent and informed being, either help or get the fuck out of the way.
It’s easy to see … and even support the idea … that teachers will be ‘fired’ (or retired, laid off or whatever else you want to call it) by the end of 2020.
In large numbers.
We’re seeing Covid expose the trainwreck of our educational system that was actually there long before a disease kept kids out of schools.
And remember: I’m really not trying to ‘pick on’ the education system. I think it’s a fundamental priority to have all kids everywhere educated with what they want, what they need and what will prepare them best for the real world … when it returns.
I’m just adding our educational system to the hundreds of other systems including food, retirement homes, energy, city planning and other businesses / organizations / charities that have been poorly run. Without random visits, without oversight, without feedback mechanisms that are treated seriously, these things fall apart when they have to adapt.
Think of how Amazon is raking it in with online orders.
Across the globe, the beneficiaries of this crisis will be those organizations that professionals have ‘poo-pood’ for years.
They will be the early adopters to online: MOOCs, Udemy, Coursera, etc.
However, as a parent, I don’t have the option of shifting from our failed educational system to something that might prove to be more exciting and engaging for my child.
If the Ford government and other governments across the planet want to pursue online education, we need to take big steps on a societal level towards recognizing and imitating these options.
For example, what’s to stop us from expecting science to be taught by Neil DeGrasse Tyson or english to be taught by Margaret Atwood or Neil Gaiman? Or music taught by Jimmy Page? Or math taught by a Nobel laureate?
Why not? The instructional structure should be no different, regards or region or municipality.
We eliminate all of the boards, all of the bureaucrats and just invest in an online educational framework that would rival YouTube, Udemy and others put together. Or partner with them.
The opportunity of online is actually boundless. At a minimum, you can track participation levels and encourage positive behaviour. This is the ‘gamification’ of learning.
Response gets reward. Online education should be no different. Students should be able to collect ‘points’ that go towards sponsored gifts.
I mean … why not? I’ve given up on the traditional formats.
But here’s the thing: we have to recognize credentials earned through third-party resources until we figure things out for ourselves. For a long time, there’s been a sense of stigma associated with earned online credentials when it comes to kids and that has to change.
I suspect the stigma originates from the unions who are in turn taking actions to limit the flexibility of the system, largely because if it’s flexible, teachers become redundant.
But they also become more valuable … and THAT should be the goal of this exercise.