During the lockdowns, when all public places were shut, schools used the best digital platforms possible to share curriculum and engage students without any apparent tangible loss to a child’s growth and development. Kinesthetic activities like sports, dance, yoga, etc as well as art integration were incorporated as there was no other alternative. Parents cooperated immensely and homeschooling emerged as a potential alternative for knowledge-sharing during the difficult times of the pandemic.
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Providing rich content and the best possible curriculum online are critical, but there are several factors – intangible and often overlooked – of equal or greater importance that make learning possible the way we have known it. These remain ignored in homeschooling due to lack of physical proximity and emotional bonding.
We must acknowledge that there is more to education than data and scores that a school provides. A school is an ecosystem where emotional, social, kinesthetic and psychomotor skills are developed along with cognitive ones, making holistic development possible. So are ‘life skills’ that are not generally thought of as something to be ‘taught’ or ‘learned’ but are integral to success in life and not measurable.
Involvement in extracurricular activities teaches specific skills – like how to play an instrument— but also intangibles like how to be part of a team, how to be a gracious winner or loser, and that persistence yields success. Involvement in sports, for example, is correlated with higher levels of self-confidence and academic performance. So, complete online education has its own limitations, though the hybrid pattern is there to stay in the times to come.
Receiving the ‘go-ahead ’guidelines from the govt is the first step towards thinking in the direction of reopening schools. Students must be encouraged to get back to school while following Covid guidelines. Embracing the new normal is also an exercise that society needs to guide young ones with as it would entail self-sufficiency and independence of thought and action.
The biggest learning from this pandemic is that change is inevitable and parents, school managements, and the community at large must hold hands to adapt to the new normal and work towards getting back to school. The new knowledge is that pollution or bad weather or a pandemic shall no longer stop school administrations in completing the annual curriculum because a hybrid/online plan will always be there to fall back on. Making learning experiential, setting personalised learning goals, and learning through collaboration in a real classroom setting are fruitful. Schools are entrusted with the responsibility to lay a sound foundation for good value systems, instill life skills and ignite minds.
It is essential that as the situation normalises, students should return to school, to enjoy the intangibles of education too.
The author is principal, Amity International School, Sector 46, Gurgaon