The new normal
When the government announced the lockdown in 2020, Flora’s parents were worried. As people who are committed to their little girl’s education, they didn’t want Flora to stay out of school indefinitely.
They emailed the school and asked what their plans were. Luckily, Flora’s school was a school that kept up with modern technology. The school wrote back the same day and assured Flora’s parents that they were putting some things in place to ensure that students continued learning during the school year.
Flora’s parents were elated at the news because Flora would not need to stop school. And they wouldn’t be forced to homeschool her or start looking for a lesson teacher. A week later, the school emailed all the parents and asked them to provide a laptop and make sure they had a steady internet connection.
Flora’s parents were happy to provide all these. Flora was more excited too. She had been thinking of asking her parents for a computer. Now, she was going to get one because the school authorities asked the parents to provide laptops. The school authorities also told the parents that they would be using Zoom and other software for learning. They sent video tutorials to enable kids to set up their workspace.
After learning how to set up Zoom and other software that the authorities recommended, classes began in earnest. At first, it was new, exciting and something to look forward to. Showing up in front of the screen every day wearing your school clothes with your hair neatly done was fun for Flora. She would smile really brightly during lessons and participate just like she usually did in her classes offline.
But over time, it got exhausting. She started dreading the calls and the long hours of peering into a laptop screen. One time, she skipped a class because she was missing her classmates and the zoom classes didn’t give her that feeling of being close to them. Everyone just felt so far away. Her teacher had to call her parents and they tried to find a way to make Flora feel better. Her dad spoke to her.
“This is the new normal,” he said. “We don’t like it but because we’re tough and we want everyone else to be safe out there, we have to embrace it and enjoy it until we can go back out there. Okay?”
So, she put in more effort and found that she was actually learning better. The teachers didn’t spend so much time writing on the chalkboard or dictating notes. They did their best to explain things. They also shared documents, videos, and games that would help the kids grasp the concept easily.
The first time a school teacher recommended a game, Flora’s parents wondered if that was legal. Being a part of the older generation had led them to believe that all games were bad for kids. But the teacher explained that the games would teach them how to think and be more strategic in decision making.
Flora’s parents were impressed especially when they saw how smart Flora became in just a few months of using progressive methods. Since learning was more fun, less formal, and unconventional, most of the kids responded favourably to it. In time, Flora had not just learned her lessons. She also knew how to use the computer better. She could use spreadsheets, convert word documents to pdf, create videos and upload them to the cloud. She learned more about computers in a few months than she had in years. Her parents were very proud of her and grateful to the school for exploring other alternatives.
Towards the end of the lockdown, Flora was excited. She washed her clothes quickly, spread them, and went to the front yard to play with her toys. She thought about how she would spend her days in school and wondered if the way that they had been learning would change. She knew that she was going to miss it.
Imagine her surprise when, on the first day of the school, instead of a chalkboard, she saw a projector in class and a whiteboard. Her teachers walked into class with laptops and iPads. Flora smiled. The new methods had come to stay and teachers were willing to keep the students motivated by using them.
Covid-19 changed the way we do things. Schools that were progressive quickly adopted modern styles of teaching and learning. Luckily, many children responded positively to these methods. Now that schools have reopened in many parts of the world, some people have chosen to keep exploring these methods of teaching and learning because they train the kids to participate better and they make learning fun.
Sadly, not many schools in Nigeria were fortunate enough to continue their education during the lockdown and not many people had access to e-learning opportunities. We need to do something about it. In today’s world, access to the internet is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity for growth and socio-economic development. If we say that our children are the future and we care about their education, we shouldn’t restrict their learning to the old archaic ways. We must teach them with the tools of the future. Happy International Day of Education.