No, They Were Learning Something

One of the frequent complaints of parents during the pandemic was that their kids “weren’t learning anything.” Whether it was because they were homeschooling or virtual schooling, the fear was that this pandemic had caused a kind of “lost year” educationally. 

But of course this is absurd. 

Yes, it may be true that academically there were setbacks, but not learning anything? No, your kids were learning a lot. They just weren’t learning along the standardized, systematized school structure. They were learning how unpredictable life was, they were learning about pressure and stress. They were learning that they took certain things for granted, they learned just how important relationships and activities and friends were. They were learning about time-management and self-direction. They were learning about politics and governance and public health. They were learning about how interconnected we all are, how our fates are bound up with one another. 

They were also watching you. If your view was that they were learning nothing, that this was a lost year, that itself was a lesson. You were teaching them that it was not possible to adapt to circumstances, you were telling them that they were not in control of their own education (or their destiny). Instead of focusing on the opportunity, you were overwhelmed by the obstacle. Instead of reminding them that education is an expansive, un-ending thing (for which we are responsible for ourselves), you defined education as school—even worse, as literally nothing more than a physical classroom led by an in-person teacher.

Your kids are always learning, no matter the environment. So it’s on you to direct that positively, creatively, resiliently, no matter what happens. In fact, this is the very best thing you could possibly teach them. 

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