How Will Schools Look After Coronavirus?
The coronavirus has no doubt changed the way that people function in society – adults, children, everybody. As a teacher, it’s interesting to think about how schools have drastically changed since the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
While it’s been difficult for everyone to navigate through all these changes – Zoom meetings, online learning platforms, and virtual assignments – it offers us a distinctive opportunity to rethink the purpose of schools moving forward
There have been a lot of discussions, blog posts, and podcasts about how schools will or should change after the coronavirus passes. We have been given a chance to reflect on how schools will operate in terms of space, distancing, and class sizes. Will schools focus on online learning? What will the scope of the curriculum look like? There are so many different paths opening up.
What Should Change?
For instance, is it really necessary that students memorize the times tables? This is a fundamental skill – it’s basic math – so maybe it should stay. I am sure there are people who would argue that since we have smartphones, there’s really no need to memorize the times tables. However, I’m sure there are also people who would argue that knowing quick calculations leaves kids better off than someone who needs to pull out their phone to double-check.
But how about memorizing facts and dates, just so that they can pass a standardized test? What is the value in spitting out dates and names without context, relevancy, or future thinking?
Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for students to learn about why these events happened, why they were significant, what patterns were apparent, or how they could have been prevented? I’m sure many schools do spend some time exploring the latter ideas, but what proportion of time is spent on facts and memorization? What proportion of time is spent on developing deep critical thinking skills? Making learning relevant is key.
I think, at the very least, schools would benefit from taking a look at their curriculums and thinking about ways to weave inquiry learning and critical thinking skills in. Giving students more opportunity to offer their opinions about past and possible future events would surely be welcomed. Asking them to explore the patterns and similarities between events, and to make thoughtful predictions about the future are skills that students would benefit from. They would be more engaged in their lessons and understand the relevance that can be derived from this kind of study.
Instead of throwing information at students and expecting them to retain, it might benefit students to explore questions like:
- How did this all happen?
- What were the warning signs that maybe were missed?
- How could we prevent future diseases and outbreaks from occurring?
- What ways could we slow the progress of said diseases and outbreaks?
- How has this brought the world together?
- In what ways has it torn the world apart?
- How should laboratories and scientific organizations be funded in the future?
- What parameters should be in place for disease control specialists in the future?
- What role do politicians, elected officials, police officers, or institutions play?
Being a student during the coronavirus is an interesting paradox. It forces teachers, educators, and parents to re-think questions like “This didn’t happen to me, so why should I care?” or, “Humans have evolved, and it probably won’t happen again, so why should I care about it?” Despite the questions being a bit short-sighted, they’re still valid.
Teachers, educators, and parents have a chance to break the pandemic down and ask interesting questions to see what students think. What are their opinions? What do they think of the world’s response? How would they have done things differently?
Reimagining Learning Opportunities
For example, there are some great opportunities for traditionally “boring” subjects like the classics or philosophy to be reimagined. For instance, if students have opinions about what role citizens and governments should have, you can explore philosophers like Socrates or John Locke. A discussion about the role that citizens should play in their democracy might bright about some interesting opinions and suggestions.
Additionally, it’s also a great opportunity for them to contrast the coronavirus with other outbreaks like the Spanish Flu or the Black Death, and examine how infectious diseases have historically spread throughout the world.
Another area for students to examine is universal basic income. It is a topic that has garnered a lot of attention recently, especially among elementary learners. What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? There are several easy and organic ways to include math in those discussions that students who would probably be happy to investigate.
Furthermore, students might want to examine how artists depicted the Black Death or the Spanish Flu. They could examine how artists use their medium to communicate messages about the dangers of disease, or about the importance of community and people supporting one another. More often, we are seeing students channel their hopes, optimism, and personal experiences through art. This can take the form of traditional art, blogging, or writing music or poetry. Alternatively, students might choose to perform a skit or dance.
There’s so much potential with the coronavirus. And although it’s been difficult for many people to cope with, I think it provides a unique way for students to have their voices heard, and to feel empowered to shape the way their futures unfold.
After all, they are going to be building the world moving forward. It’s essential that they learn how to critically examine things that are going on, understand how to respond to global issues, and have their opinions heard about what they think should happen moving forward and how they may solve those problems.
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- Download 400 Essential Inquiry Questions HERE
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