No matter what side of the political aisle you may find yourself, the last week has been very troubling. Grim news seems to persist into the cracks of our everyday lives, whether we want it or not. It is a weight coming over an already heavy period in our country’s history. I think a lot of people anticipated a drastic change in this New Year, a change that has yet to come. Vaccine rollout is seemingly far away for most of the population, the political divisiveness is ever deepening and the pandemic as a whole seems like a dark cloud that stretches far and wide with no signs of sunlight. It is incredibly tiring to bear all of this stress and information; the weariness of the general population is especially present in students across the country.
Students have a unique access to technology in the realm of remote learning; in face most have to use it in some form. Technology is now a direct passageway to every news story out there. It can turn quickly into this overwhelming and vast space with no escape. As a college student who has at least developed some critical thinking skills throughout my education and life, it is difficult to consume and comprehend all of the unsettling knowledge found within the online news. Expecting this information acquired via technology to be properly consumed by younger students is simply not realistic. Nowadays most of school is on an Ipad or laptop or some form of technology where everything that is happening in the world can be accessed. Young students are consuming very troubling media that they are simply not prepared to consume developmentally; I have worked with many middle schoolers the past few summers and they have more than enough on their plates without a pandemic and political crisis. Most adults are struggling with the weight of society and its troubles, children and students are feeling it as well.
There also is a sense of indulgence in education and learning at this moment. How does some geometry homework compare to what feels like the world crumbling around us? Adults are unable to manage and control the bad parts of the world and the weight now also lies on the shoulders of the youth. Being a teenager is hard, it makes everything else in life that much more troubling, especially a pandemic. High schoolers especially always feel a lack of importance within their work, as if it is distanced from reality. At this moment schools seem like galaxies away from our reality. Learning is now a sort of luxury that can be squashed by the weight of everything surrounding the students. In the past there was a perception that the grown-ups were handling things outside of the school walls, this no longer appears to be true. This doesn’t just affect the students, teachers are feeling the weight of the outside world as well. When they log off of Zoom when the day is done, they are hit with what seems like more bad news every day. This is incredibly draining and they are perhaps feeling the same lack of importance around school that their students are. Talking about Chemistry or English can seem quite arbitrary in this very moment, that is not to diminish their actual importance on a student’s education, only to say that right now it can sometimes seem selfish to focus on anything but the matters at hand.
Learning and teaching is hard right now, being human is hard right now for many people and specifically for those in the school system. There is so much surrounding us that feels out of control, I know I have been feeling that myself. When everything appears out of control and heavy it is crucial to remember to take care of your well-being. In these unprecedented times, we must care for ourselves, and that all starts with the brain. This does not need to involve extensive yoga or a perfect workout or a 5-course meal, it can be something quite simple. Jackie sent me an amazing article and video this week on neurosurgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and his perception of keeping your brain and yourself sharp during a pandemic. One key action to take in order to help yourself is to talk a walk with a friend. This is nothing groundbreaking or difficult or expensive, it is simply taking time to move and have some sort of interaction. This perception is quite powerful in its simplicity and can bring great alleviation to the heavy stress. I have linked these below and believe them to be a great resource in troubling times. Everyone is struggling, especially students, and when the world seems like it is caving in on us that is when these small actions can be so incredibly meaningful towards your health. It is the little tasks like this that will get us through these turbulent times, moments of self-care that may not be perceived as such. The outside world is pushing on the walls of schools and weighing heavy on students’ and educator’s shoulders. Learning and teaching is not an easy task at any time and when we have this dark cloud looming above it is all the more difficult. I hope these resources below provide small tasks to hold on to in the meantime.
Dr. Gupta talks about keeping your brain sharp
To ‘Keep Sharp’ This Year, Keep Learning, Advises Neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta