Educating our children in the era of Covid 19

It’s been more than a year now since our schools had to close down because of the Covid 19 pandemic and confine the education of our children to our homes. Nobody had anticipated that the pandemic would last this long. This forced our education officials to hastily put together home-learning modules to allow children to continue their schooling.

But there has been constant pressure for government to bring back face-to-face learning in schools. Many parents have expressed apprehension that if this pandemic lasts much longer, the education of their children would suffer. For many, there is no better way to provide children with good education than in the traditional classroom setting. Any other way would jeopardize their ability to gain the knowledge and skills to navigate the world in adulthood.

That premise stands on weak ground.

The best education can in fact be obtained without our children having to leave home and toil from 8 to 4 p.m., tackling a number of subjects in 50-minute segments throughout the day and sitting in rows of chairs in the classroom in a fashion dating back hundreds of years.

With access to the internet, children can learn about every subject that interests them, at any time or length of time they feel is needed to fill their minds with an abundance of knowledge. I believe as much as 85% of households in the country own at least one smart phone. The problem is that many parents do not understand the power they possess in educating their children.

Truly, we live in a golden age in education. It breaks economic barriers because both rich and poor children can read the best books, listen to lectures, and watch videos about the world around us. No longer do children have to rely on outdated textbooks for their education. Why learn about the animal or plant kingdom through textbooks when there’s an abundance of excellent videos about them? Or why make children suffer through boring lectures on social studies and history when they can witness events through documentaries? And the possibilities go on and on.

I am not saying that we should altogether discard the traditional classroom setting. But as we face the current challenge of ensuring that our children’s education is not disrupted, we have to really craft strategies to take advantage of the opportunities that abound.

As I see it, the mistake being made by the Department of Education is trying to replicate classroom teaching on-line or the module system. That can only lead to disastrous results. Rather, teachers should learn how to tailor their lesson plans as guides to children on where to start and how to go deep into the woods of learning. This will allow teachers flexibility in how their “teaching” is done: fast-learners can take on a different path while slow learners can get more remedial instruction.

We should not be afraid of the pandemic and its potential effects on education. It will take some quick adjustments along the way, but we might be able to start something revolutionary for education. This pandemic can be a blessing in disguise in charting a better future for our children.