An educational disaster or an opportunity

This morning I was struck by yet another so called expert crawling out of the coronavirus woodwork to predict gloom and doom for damage caused by home schooling during the pandemic.

The particular expert clearly wanted to say more about him than about the problem that he wanted to herald. Whilst it is true that he had managed secondary and university education establishments, he also felt it necessary to state that he was the ‘only one’ to have done so.

The fact that he had been running both establishments does not automatically mark him out as an expert anymore than someone who has driven lorries; buses and cars can be regarded as a road traffic expert.

But putting that aside, why is there a tendency for people to always look at situations from their one-sided view. To imagine that home schooling will create a generation of drug mules for county lines drug dealers, while parents divorce at an alarming rate and domestic violence goes through the roof is hardly the logical argument of a true academic.

One finds it hard to imagine it to be easy to recruit drug mules that can only operate in their own homes. As far as divorce rates are concerned, if couples cannot stand being in the same home together then the lack of a pandemic is not going to strengthen the relationship. Equally, people prone to domestic violence are not going to stop once the coronavirus goes away.

As far as I am concerned, I refuse to blame the coronavirus on everything from people suddenly not liking each other to the complete ruination of a generation. Indeed, it is interesting to note that it may work the other way in some instances. Certainly the stabbings in London seem to have significantly decreased.

But more importantly, there are other positives. Suddenly creativity has reared up to tackle the pandemic. Young people stripped of the comfort of university are using their skills to create things to help. A programme in Turkey to identify the best ideas and then to work with mentors to bring them to market got 1500 ideas and 100 mentors. The best ideas are now moving forward with funding.

Equally, it was two young men in Italy that have adapted a diving mask, with the help of 3D printing, so that it can be used to assist breathing in patients.

At the same time, we have seen a large increase in cooperative working and adaptability. Universities and business are working to design new incubators while other businesses are adapting product lines to produce equipment for the health service.

Suddenly, we also see a more philanthropic society with businesses doing things for free or at cost and for, normally highly paid, entertainers going on line to entertain for free.

Just the examples of a more caring, philanthropic and cooperative society are a great role model for those children and young people devoid of formal education. But there are other advantages of home schooling that should be recognised.

Firstly, to imagine that teachers are sitting in their back gardens sunbathing or writing gloom and doom articles are the exception rather than the rule. Many teachers are working hard to provide additional help for those at home. Technology is making this easier than before and even chargeable educational suppliers are waving fees for their products.

But an even greater benefit to those being home schooled comes from having parents at home. Suddenly the parent that works until after the child’s bedtime is being introduced to the child sitting on the sofa!

Having to entertain children in a confined space for the whole day suddenly requires variety and structure. It often requires a bit of preparation when the child goes to bed and when the parent is tired. In short, home schooling requires the same disciplines that schools have to employ to get through the day.

Parents suddenly have to be creative and, surprise, surprise, many of them are enjoying it. They are also learning how much they dump onto teachers who they then blame for every child’s misdemeanour. They also discover that little Johnnie isn’t the perfect angel they think he is all day long!

I am not saying that all homes are a joyous refuge of creativity and learning. I realise that some parents will not be encouraging their children to keep learning. But these are the same parents that will also do it during regular schooling and will not work with teachers to improve things.

Before I finish, there is another benefit from home schooling. Grandparents, thanks to technology, can become another resource for home schooling. I have regular daily sessions over the Internet with my granddaughter who is 5000 miles away.

These sessions benefit and stimulate both of us. Our number and alphabet bingo sessions mean she practices her numbers and I get to exercise my brain. Sessions always end with my granddaughter stipulating the subject for a story that she would like me to write for the following day.

Which reminds me, any idea for a story about a hippo that gets stuck in the mud?!!



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