Right now, I fear the wall is not nearly big enough…

Right now, I fear the wall is not nearly big enough….

“The wall of school is too small to contain what education needs to be” 
Courbet Toure

By Naomi Holdt

Our pandemic world is undeniably upside down… We talk of the monstrosity of Corona… We literally use the phrase ‘Our world is at war’… and it is… We are ever more aware of this ruthless killer… One who takes no mercy, who destroys indiscriminately, who does not care about race or age as it devours its victims… barraging through our minimal barricades…

We know the ravenous hunger of this beast… We can no longer ignore it…

Yet, it seems that many of us are still trying desperately to chase after a ‘normal’ in our education system…

A ‘normal’ curriculum… a ‘normal’ school day… (for many children actually extended due to trying to ‘catch up’ lost time)… scheduled tests… exams… and even attempts at the reintroduction of sport…

Forgive me for being so blatantly honest, but the words that have come to me over and over are “WHAT ARE WE THINKING?”

Is the elephant in the room not large enough…? The one stomping about leaving destruction in its wake… The one that’s gnashing every bit of ‘normal’ as we have always known it…

Schools are opening… and closing…. and opening… and closing… Family members, friends, teachers, and heads of schools are being infected… Some are losing their lives… Thousands will still… Yet, we expect our children to carry on… to keep going… to just ‘adapt’… We expect our educators, many of whom are close to mental burnout given the extremely stressful circumstances, to put aside the very real fear of contracting the deadly virus or passing it onto their families, and to teach a curriculum… And, from what we are told, the war has only just begun…

Disruption… Fear… Grief…

WHAT ARE WE THINKING?

Where is the stability for our children? For our educators? For our parents, many of whom, are between all the chaos, still trying to make some kind of living….

And let no school be so proud as to think they are above an infection… above a fatality…

Are we pushing ‘normal’ and playing catch-up so hard that we are raising a generation for whom antidepressants and anxiolytics will be like bread… an essential of life…? Unless drastic changes are made in terms of our current way of thinking, we are heading for inescapable long-term damage…

Now, while in the midst of a war that has the potential to eliminate millions… is not a time we should be fighting to save education as we know it… It’s not a time to be trying to desperately salvage a school year… Now is a time we should be rethinking the very nature of what education is in terms of raising emotionally healthy and well-adjusted adults… Success in life, happiness in life, resilience in life, is determined by far more than ticking academic check-lists…

Is there a straight forward answer? Absolutely not. Many children are going to lose this academic year, (let’s just own that and settle into it) and we will in all likelihood be playing catch up for the next decade… But isn’t it possibly time to rethink the essence of education and what we ACTUALLY aim to achieve by it… ? If ever the world was screaming the obvious- that changes need to be made, in life and education, I would imagine that we are experiencing the throes of a pretty ear-piercing meltdown right now…

I don’t have the answers… I wish I did…

I know that schools are being pressured by parents… I know that many working parents depend on their children attending school so that they can provide for their families… I know schools fear losing income and that many staff have taken salary cuts… I know that parents fear their children falling behind… I know that our matrics are desperately anxious about final examinations and university entrances… I don’t have the answers to the extremely complex challenges that lie ahead of our nation in terms of education… This virus didn’t send any of us a manual to navigate with certainty the trail of complexity and destruction it is leaving…

Capture

But I am terrified, as a parent and a psychologist, of the serious long-term ramifications if we don’t pause and relook at a new definition of educational success during a pandemic… during a global crisis… during a time of war…

Considering the grievous state of our current predicament, our measure of the success of 2020 should not be based on the achievement of any measurable academic skill… It should be based simply on whether our children, their educators and all of humanity are able to survive the year emotionally well enough to pick up the pieces in 2021 and to keep moving forward… with our psychological well-being intact, with the ability to adapt to a newer world, and with renewed focus about what really matters during this century’s greatest battle… Life itself… ❤️

#schoolcrisis
#pandemicschooling
#covidworld
#education
#teaching
#incredibleteachers
#southafricaneducation
#educationcrisis
#whatreallymatters
#rethinkeducation
#emotionalwellbeing
#whatarewethinking
#raisinghumans
#parentingthroughcovid
#parenting
#naomiholdtspeaker


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