The basis for remote learning relies on the teachers only partially, outside factors have a far greater impact than ever before in our new realm of education. Each student comes from a different background with their challenges, some far worse than others. During these times each factor is amplified. While some with supportive, or at the very least, stable homes have a chance to succeed, others must overcome obstacles that children should not have to deal with. While home life has always had an influence on education, it is now at the center of education for many students and plays an even more powerful role.
Students with different home lives are impacted by the new education jostling. Boarding school, college, or even a normal day school provides an escape from the grasp that reality holds in their own home. While most schools cannot be the perfect haven they hope to be, at the very least they are an escape. Remote learning takes away this escape and puts many more stressors in this new learning environment. There is also another layer of difficulties that inherently come with technology. Learning is now completely centered around the ability to have stable Wi-Fi, which is simply not plausible in many households across the country. Within the new remote learning, the academic gap that existed prior to the pandemic is only amplified during our new learning environment. Students now may be in charge of taking care of younger siblings, they may have a much greater responsibility in the house than they would in a regular school year. The pandemic may have even taken their parent’s job or ripped a loved one from their life. The tragic circumstances we now live under affect some far more than others, and that is now having an even greater impact on our students.
The pandemic does not affect everyone equally and even some of those under terrible circumstances can have greater success in our new form of education. Some learners seem to not only be accepting online learning, but thriving within the shift. The new learning, while bringing up very difficult obstacles, also takes away some stressors from other students. Many teachers have expressed their surprise over some students seemingly thriving during whatever form of pandemic education they are in at the moment. Allowing some students to be removed from whatever issues the classroom brings up, allows for them to succeed in a different sort of classroom that they can create on their own. They now hold a new sense of independence and freedom that for some can be difficult to navigate, but for others, it can be a powerful tool in controlling their education. Almost every teacher I spoke to reflected on a portion of their students that did extremely well under these unexpected circumstances. None of them knew a precise reason why this appeared to occur, but it was there, nonetheless. This could be for a plethora of reasons; it could be alleviating social anxiety, being away from a large group of people could contribute to this, or perhaps something as simple as the separation from distracting classmates. Regardless, there is an evident presence of a population of students that are succeeding academically under remote learning.
There are a million factors that contribute towards whatever you may define as academic success. When academia shifts from the walls of the classroom to the walls of one’s home the factors shift as well. This can be an extremely abrupt change for many students with more turbulent homes. There is a definite loss of stability with the change and that can be quite troubling for many students. Another unexpected obstacle is the realm of Zoom. Social pressures on this platform are being unveiled in manners that were nonexistent in January; including whether or not you have your camera on, what is in the background of your video, the inability to have the sound on in a noisy house, bad Wi-Fi and not being able to be heard/hear anyone else. While students used to have been insecure about wardrobe and appearance, now they are apprehensive about the perception of their home and themselves through the tiny windows of Zoom, while this may seem unimportant it is extremely stressful for students, especially those of lower socioeconomic status. Additionally, in being so isolated through distant learning, the only social interaction they may be having is through these calls which are often draining and socially unfulfilling. Their emotional well-being is another part of their ability to succeed that has been tampered by remote learning.
School can be incredibly stressful for so many reasons, and during these times the reasons may change, but the stressors remain. Some students are able to find the silver lining and are even enjoying our new technological education, even preferring it to their previous learning styles. This is amazing for these students, but is also important to acknowledge the other portion of our learners, those who are barely hanging on by a thread. The complexities of every student have always been there and through my conversations with teachers, it is clear that these complexities are even more apparent during these times. While these are representative of much larger issues within our society, they appear in our school system which can be perceived as a microcosm for what is to come in the real world.
This issue is far greater than any blog post could convey, but in writing it I hope to create an important dialogue on the acknowledgment of these different standards of life for every student. Thank you for taking the time to read and please leave any thoughts below!