By Nirmala Patro, HOD, Department of French, Delhi Public School, Nacharam
As we find ourselves deep during the Covid – 19 pandemic, many people have started questioning what the world will be like when we eventually emerge from the difficult place we are in right now. It has been interesting to read the wide range of suggestions from experts examining crystal balls and offering best estimates as to how this pervasive contagion will affect our lives in the post COVID – 19 world.
At the level of society, some suggest that the COVID -19 crisis will change our world and how we view globalization. Probably our travel and shopping habits as we have known them will never be the same again. Work patterns may change dramatically, with our enforced use of technology heralding the onset of increasing work from home.
Some intellectuals also point to significant advantages emerging from the tremendous global jolt delivered to society by the worldwide spread of this virus. Carbon emissions are reducing as travel is curtailed, allowing our planet the opportunity to take a much-needed deep breath on the long road to recover its health. Others see the more compassionate and empathetic society with genuine concern, not only for planet Earth, but for the wellbeing of our family, friends, and the community. I sincerely hope the later, above all others, proves to be true.
Rather than gaze into my fairy hazy crystal ball and speculate on how things might look like in future, I want to share what I think about some of the lessons learnt so far in the context of education.
Teachers’ moral purpose and commitment to learners has shone through:
There is no doubt in my mind that teachers and others in this education system have shown commendable commitment and flexibility adapting quickly to the closure of schools. Many have moved their practice overnight from in-class teaching to one that involves them teaching almost wholly online. That change has not been easy for some (students, parents and teachers as well) and it certainly has not been helped by the diversities in students’ home learning environments but it has been impressive to see how the teaching profession has risen to this challenge. To learn new tough technologies from scratch testifies that the teachers have worked tirelessly to ensure that the need of the learners continue to be met. Teaching should be recognized as both complex and challenging, requiring the highest standards of professional competence and commitment.
There have been some well-meaning suggestions on how “gaps” in the teaching workforce might be filled during this crisis. What needs to be remembered is that anyone involved in delivering the learning is well qualified to deal with the complexities of teaching and adheres to stringent standards of competence and conduct. Such requirements must be maintained to ensure the learning of our children and young people is protected – even in a time of emergency.
The reaction of many parents on social media who have been faced with enforced home learning in recent months, has clearly opened their eyes to the reality.
COVID – 19 is generating ideas that need serious consideration:
If anything good is to come out of the COVID -19 crisis, it has to be the raising questions about what our future education system might look like. To what extent do technology and science take greater significance in educating the future generations? Will resilience and adaptability be promoted up to the higher level of life skills of the future citizens. With the increased realization that learning can be no more than a mouse click away, do we need to re-define the role of educators?
Will these challenges make teaching a more attractive career to pursue? Will our New Education Policy would help the teaching faculty in this regard?
As COVID -19 has shown, we live in a highly interconnected world. We must see how our new curriculum will ensure our students understand and engage with this interconnectedness. Does the crisis demonstrate sufficiently why ‘Learning for Sustainability’ is such an integral part of our Professional standards?
We all live in hope that this cataclysmic global event will soon come to an end. The danger, of course, is that all of us in education will go back and try to do the same things in the same way as we did before COVID -19. To ensure that everything we take away from the experiences over the few last months serve the future generations well, we must make compelling changes and rethink every question that has risen regarding the education system, the work system, and the importance of teachers. Making education a more dynamic process and moving past the shackles we’ve discovered over the tenure of this pandemic will be our best bet to improve the lives of all students, teachers and parents, and overall contribute to how to the world grows.