Remote learning began officially this week for the children of many of my parent friends across the country. And as they report on how it’s going, I can only wonder: what are we doing?
So many children in tears. So many parents in tears! Fifth graders who have to access six different online platforms to find all of their assignments and activities. School buses showing up with bagged lunches–and massive worksheet packets due by Friday. IEPs entirely discarded. Lesson plans for parents to follow that are as detailed and specific and demanding as lesson plans left for substitute teachers–7 different ones! 5 days a week! Draconian Zoom rules: make eye contact with the camera at all times! no eating or drinking on Zoom!
Parents who also still have full-time jobs that they are expected to do plus full-time child care plus pandemic survival are now also somehow trying to squeeze in a third full-time job as their child’s teacher–and in the absence of meaningful, authentic, joyful, and appropriate learning tasks, their children necessarily, appropriately, understandably resist.
If children are crying because of school, we are doing it wrong.
I wonder why it is so hard to hold onto what we know about how children and humans learn. Sometimes I wonder if what we think we know about teaching gets in the way of what we once knew about learning.
Teaching is not a delivery system.
Teaching is not a list of tasks.
Teaching is not a suite of online tools.
Teaching is not a set of rules.
Learning is play–driven by curiosity.
Learning is wonder–driven by curiosity.
Learning is exploration–driven by curiosity.
Learning is an invitation–nurtured by relationships.
Children want to learn–if we will let them.