Many readers have pointed out one response to the pandemic is eerily similar to the premise of my novel, At the Trough. In the novel, physical school buildings no longer exist. Students work from home, at their own pace, learning from pre-recorded videos.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools around the world are closing their doors and turning towards remote learning. Teachers are using a variety of online platforms to assign and collect work for students.
I can say from my own teaching experience that this models has its advantages. I can teach while wearing sweatpants! I can use the bathroom whenever I need, and not have to hold it in for 3 1/2 hours!
But the art of teaching depends upon immediate feedback from students. A good teacher can tell pretty quickly if a student does not understand. And a proactive student can raise a hand and ask a question. That doesn’t work in this model. Especially vulnerable are special education students who depend on (and are legally entitled to) additional support with a specialized teacher. Obviously, public health and safety is the highest priority right now, but most teachers I know are chafing at this imitation of teaching.
It is dehumanizing.
At The Trough did not have a pandemic as the inciting factor to dissolve the schools (in the novel, it was a collapsing global economy and escalating school violence). But the end result is pretty similar. I’m just shocked we are at this point in 2020!
Once the COVID-19 crisis has abated, I imagine we will go back to the traditional classroom. But who knows? In my next post, I will make four predictions about how the temporary shift to remote learning will result in permanent shifts in the way we teach and learn…