Despite school closures, our children will be OK

There’s nothing like a nationwide school closure to help you recognise the valuable work that teachers do, every single day.

Before COVID-19, my daughter and I had a joke. If we got on each others’ nerves, we’d say, “there’s always homeschooling… !” And then we would burst out laughing because, no, not in our house there wasn’t.

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I am not made of that stuff. I have friends who are teachers, I have family who are teachers. They are gods and goddesses. Nothing fazes them. I am not that.

And so, when the inevitable school closures were finally announced, the prospect of being responsible for our five-year-old’s education filled me with terror. I’m prone to overthinking and chronic FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), so I spent a considerable number of sleepless nights fretting over everything to do with education.

How would she learn? How would I work? How would I teach her the right thing? Would I mess her up? Would she fall behind? What do I do with all these helpful offers from organisations I’d forgotten I’d signed up for that are clogging my inbox?

It’s not a pretty place in my head. It’s a wonder I get anything done.

And then I tipped over the precipice of panic and found a zen den of calm like nothing I’d experienced since the hormonal rush of the last few weeks of pregnancy. It came from a moment of realisation that we are in a time of unprecedented access.

We have digital discovery walks at our fingertips, libraries of experiments to explore, and decades of robust pedagogical research behind quality television and interactive programming. These resources are supporting generations of future adults in accepting what will be will be. That’s a lesson for us all.

© Scott Balmer
© Scott Balmer

Parents, carers and guardians are not teachers, and we are not expected to be. We don’t need to meet key requirements or core objectives. We need to back off from trying to manage the work that other people are trained to do, because they are the experts. And a suite of learning apps does not replace the teacher or the classroom.

There are over a billion children worldwide who are out of school, and that’s a billion children who will be back up to speed after they have some time with their teachers again. That will be a culture shift for the schools, but one that they are trained for.

Read more from Aleks Krotoski:

There are many things that will come out of this disruptive moment. I hope that one will be proper recognition of the epic work that teachers do for our kids. They put knowledge into our little ones, and they help raise them to be good human beings.

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So despite the school closures, homeschooling isn’t happening in our house, still. We are learning what we need to, and learning how to learn (and occupy ourselves). Screens are on sometimes, and play is happening. And this episode will transform the learning experience for a lifetime.