School on Screens

Well, it’s happening. God only knows how it will play out, but this train won’t stop now.

Online schooling begins tomorrow.

Even though I haven’t been a real Catholic for 30 years, I have an impulse to cross myself when I make that statement, or even when I think about it.

The emails have been coming fast and furious from the middle and elementary school administrations as well as individual teachers. We’re drowning in informational attachments.

The boys have all gotten their schedules. Big Brother’s 7th grade schedule contains an elective called “The Great Outdoors,” which was not one of his top choices. The schedule was silent about the irony of learning all about the outdoors from a computer screen inside his house. His schedule is the most detailed, which is good, because he’s going to have to manage his responsibilities largely on his own.

The Great Outdoors, transformed into screen time for educational purposes.

His little brothers will need lots of help.

It used to be that 3rd grade and 1st grade schedules looked like this:

Morning: Drop them off at school

Afternoon: Pick them up from school

This year we have a day-long schedule of live and taped events the children must access on the computer every day. I am happy to see there is a break each day at 10:15 for the students to have a snack and the parents to crack open a bottle of wine. We weren’t in the habit of drinking in the morning, but as they say, welcome to the new normal.

Lunch is at 11:45, which is just about the time we will be realizing that wine is insufficient to our needs. A couple shots of something a little more robust should help us prepare for the afternoon sessions

Preparing our learning devices for the big day.

I think whoever made up the schedule gave up on it once they hit noon. The afternoon is a hodge-podge of pre-recorded sessions, which seem like they could be done in any order, but also seem to leave the administration entirely in the parents’ hands.

As daunting as this is, it may not turn out to be a bad thing. Parents have been lulled by our system into believing they are not ultimately responsible for their children’s educations. Some have leapt onto that slippery slope to the point where they don’t feel responsible for their kids’ emotional development.

Maybe this experiment will bring some parents back to their responsibilities. It won’t be fair to all parents, but nothing ever is. How fair it is to my family is not our top concern right now. Our top concern is that ourchildren progress, in all the facets of their lives. This, we are determined to see them do.

Maybe there’s a silver lining in online schooling, if it gets parents more involved in their children’s development. Or, maybe it’s just a train wreck in the making. Maybe it’s both. I was always partial to D: All of the above on multiple choice tests when I didn’t have a clue what was going on.

24 comments on “School on Screens

  1. Kenneth T. says:

    We are in our third week here (actually 9 days) of at home school learning – our 5 year old granddaughter hasn’t had much screen time due to so many issues with the school servers.
    It’s all a big bunch of bullcrap here (Coastal GA USA).

    • I’m sorry to hear that. I hope your school can get its issues worked out soon. I really feel for the children who must go through this.

      • Kenneth T. says:

        I’m also hoping for the best. The first day, school ‘lasted’ about a half hour – the second day it was less than ten minutes. It has been better since then but still no longer than 3 hours (with sometimes a 30 minute break or two).
        It’s not just that, but it’s also difficult for a 5 year old to stay attentive to ‘online’ learning. My granddaughter does have educational games she likes to play via her tablet, mind you. Right now she needs social skills, which she is getting very little. 😦

  2. Just Joan says:

    I had to chuckle a little at the irony of kids learning about the great outdoors on a computer screen. How’s that going to work? Click on tree to enlarge it, click on leaf and Alexa will identify it as an oak or maple? Maybe they could learn to predict hurricanes or virtually dig for fossils? I also like that the schedules allow breaks for cookies and milk (and something in a rocks glass for parents). People used to laugh at the “Granola Girls” who home-schooled their kids. Now they are realizing Mrs Granola had her hands full. I remember when our elementary school closed for three weeks during the Blizzard of ’78. There was no online curriculum then because there was no internet. The teachers just assigned reading and math problems and spelling words and hoped parents had the time and wherewithal to help us with anything we didn’t understand. I can’t imagine doing it for a whole semester. I see this as one of the few advantages of being child-free. You’ll get through it, Snoozing, because you have a sense of humor and an ideas about what kids will need to know to survive in this crazy world. You’ve also got choices… you can supercede the online programs and take your kid outside for real if you want. Good luck. 🙂

    • I never thought I’d ever be a homeschooler. I never thought I’d have the patience for it. Although this is not officially homeschool, it’s closer than I ever wanted to be. Between my wife and me, I guess we’ll have the patience to make it through at least until the morning snack/adult beverage. After that, things could go sideways.

  3. CrankyPants says:

    I can’t even imagine how hard it’s going to be and has been for parents. I’m kind of glad we are not atm.

    Up here kids are going back to school but I don’t think it will last long. Every time a kid gets a sniffle they’re going to be sent home or not allowed to go to school then quarantined. If that’s the case then does the whole family have to be in jail whilst the kid is every time?! It’s all so crazy.

  4. I enjoy your fresh, honest writing. And knowing that you don’t know the answers. “D” all of the above is most likely right. I usually teach creative writing at at libraries and adult education classrooms, but now I’m meeting my students virtually. These 25-85 year olds have a difficult time learning virtually – how about our 5-18 years olds! But… this too will pass. And until it does, parents and grandparents and teacher just need to do the best they can. (and perhaps hide that wine bottle until at least 3 p.m.)

  5. Lynn says:

    Should be an interesting school year!

    On a serious note, what concerns me is those children who don’t have parents or an adult in their life who gives a rats ass about their education. And what about kids who don’t have access to a computer at home? How is that being considered in your education system?

    • I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those less fortunate children, Lynn. “Equity” is an easy word to throw around in school board meetings, but it gets to be an inconvenient concept when times get tough. Our school district provides computers for all students (a luxury all districts may not have), but I don’t know what they can do about the “rats ass” parents so long as they are not providing a school meeting place outside the home, which all the powers that be around here are in no hurry to do.

  6. AmyRose🌹 says:

    I have strong opinions, Scott, and in this area there is no exception. For far too long our society at large has become lazy and service orientated and “family” has become disconnected in too many ways. Perhaps with this learning from home and families being “forced” to choose between career, money and children, they will have to choose children in most cases. My heart goes out to those children whose parents insist on being selfish in continuing their career or refuse to give up the extra income leaving their children’s education in their kids’ hands or with in-home hired help. My heart also goes out to those parents who cannot stop working and must leave their children at home alone to learn by themselves. I PRAY this situation brings families closer as in other countries where generations help each other out. This is where our society has failed …. all the ME ME ME crap and putting family last (not all cases thank goodness!) or putting as much distance between family members as possible and then when old, be put in nursing homes. If I had children today I would move mountains to give them the best education possible and NOT just what the school curriculum says to teach. Guess what? I have a brain and I know how to use it. I am confident the same holds true for you and your wife! xo

    • I hope there is a silver lining is this, Amy, in that we all come to understand and appreciate some things we did consider before. If our children need more help from us, even though that will make our days more difficult, maybe it will give us a better insight into how they are being taught and even what they are being taught. I don’t know how it will turn out, but maybe some things will be better in the long run for this disruption.

      • AmyRose🌹 says:

        My sister is homeschooling her grandkids, Scott, because of the mess that schools are in. Last Spring she helped teach them as well and she was appalled by the math they are teaching these kids. So, she is looking at certain school systems now so she can incorporate regular math with solid English and focusing on those subjects that these kids are avidly interested in. She is also very determined to make sure they know how to write, both printed form and script. Truthfully she couldn’t believe how “inappropriate” what was being taught them. I wish you all the very best, really. I know what my sis is going through just finding the right curriculum. Yet she and I are from a background of getting excellent education and that is what she will pass on to her grandkids. I have no idea how all this is going to turn out either. There are days it is so overwhelming I just want to burst into tears. One step at a time. A lot of oops let’s try it again. Lots of falling, brushing off dirt, getting back up again. And a lot of NO WAY will I focus on the insanity that is roaring about.

        • Amy, good for your sister for helping out the grandkids. I kept my kids reading through the summer and I’ve seen a lot of improvement. My fear now is that with “school” going on they will be less motivated to read as much with me, and I doubt their reading skills are going to be improved by remote learning. Still, we can’t pull them out and homeschool them because we have to work, even on the days we are at home. And I think it’s good for them to have a shared experience with other children, even a less than ideal experience.

  7. onlineenglishschool1 says:

    Nice! Thanks for sharing. Very helpful to me.

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