To all parents and teachers
Education at a distance has as its purpose the same thing as education in person: the promotion of the long-term flourishing of students. In other words, the work of distance learning matters, profoundly, just as the work of in-person learning does.
I discovered Dave Stuart Jr. last year. He's a teacher, parent, and writer, who takes care to provide detailed, accessible advice for anyone interested in learning, teaching, and helping others teach and learn.
This week, he wrote about good and bad news in our current circumstances. And he shared "the start of a solution" to helping all young people keep flourishing through distance learning.
I strongly encourage you to take the time to read the whole post. Here are my summaries of each of his points to whet your appetite.
1. The good news: the purpose of shifting to e-learning isn't to make sure the lessons that would have been delivered in person are delivered from a distance. The purpose is to continue fostering long-term flourishing in young people. So, we have permission to "slow down, take a breath, think, and move slowly into the new challenges that confront us, being transparent with our students and families as we do so."
2. The bad news: Because "human motivation is hugely sensitive to context," and because "education at a distance is not the same thing as education in person, . . . Almost everything that we knew about motivating students just changed." The physical space for students is now dramatically different. The teacher's ability to access and work within that space is different. And "The psychological, emotional, and spiritual space has changed for all of us."
3. The start of a solution? Let's face it: students and teachers and parents are all more attracted to "high-engagement, enrichment-focused activities." So, Stuart suggests, let's take advantage of this time to get things right.
If we don't, we risk making things worse in the future instead of better.
So, what can you do? If you're a teacher, provide as much clarity and information for your students and their parents to benefit from your high-engagement, enrichment-focused activities. If you're a parent, create a space for young people to feel safe. And, no matter what your role, reduce the pressure on yourself and others, and take the time to keep whatever you're doing focused on long-term flourishing.