Tales of Distance Learning I

The reason I started this blog was so that I would have an outlet for writing. I love to write and feel like I’m pretty good at it. Distance Learning, however, has stolen away the time I had to write. Rather than spend quiet moments practicing the craft of putting thoughts, ideas, philosophies into words, I now spend quiet moments wandering in my garden or hiding in the garage.

Having school cancelled and everyone sent home to learn through videos and worksheets has been an incredible transition in our household. Though I was an English teacher by trade before becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom, no amount of training could prepare me to bounce from 4th grade to 2nd grade to Kindergarten to 6th grade between reading, spelling, CA History, religion, math every 3-4 minutes.

The sheer volume of questions and assistance needed is staggering. It seems that of my 4 children only one is actually capable of doing schoolwork independently – I credit a lot of that to her incredible teachers who are the most organized human beings on the planet! In order to tasks to be completed, I must sit patiently beside each child – available but not interfering, supporting but not micromanaging – in order to facilitate the completion of tasks. I must be ready to solve technical errors when the internet doesn’t work exactly right, to remember passwords for obscure websites off the top of my head, to push a little harder when they are ready to give up, to call it a day when it’s clear that no more “learning” is possible.

I put “learning” in quotation marks because it is highly doubtful there is any learning happening through this method. Not just in my home but in homes around the country. I honestly believe that what my children are learning most is how to persevere, how to navigate Zoom calls, and how to get out of busy work by pushing me up to and over the brink.

This whole exercise has led me to question everything I thought I believed about the education system in our country. To be fair, I’ve always been a skeptic even when I worked in the classroom. To be even more fair, my friends who homeschool tell me that Distance Learning is nothing like homeschoool. This time in my children’s education has been boiled down to “watch video, complete worksheet, read 4 pages, complete worksheet.”

The creativity, spontaneity, and interactions have been taken out of education. It is boiled down to it’s most basic, uncreative, uninspired, boring elements. And it sucks.

What’s worse is that it is robbing me of my creativity and inspiration as well. Being a task manager, fighting for things to be checked off the list, leaves me exhausted before the day has even begun. Knowing that each day will be filled with pressure to complete assignments in which I fail to see the value is demoralizing. I know that many people are incredibly bored during this lock down and would love to have something to do the way I do. I would gladly trade places with anyone who is so bored they are doing 40,000 piece puzzles. I feel like with that kind of time and freedom I could write a book!

But that’s not reality in my life. The reality in my life is that I have four little darlings who are depending on me to guide them, teach them, reassure them, treasure them, and love them. And I do those things. I just wish I could do those things without the pressure of distance learning.

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