School: Do we even need to go back? By Lucas Zylstra
“I think that’s the problem," Angus Albinati says "I’m not doing anything different. It's just a repeat of the same thing everyday and it just leaves me feeling unfulfilled.”
The grade 10 Canterbury student reflects on his recent virtual learning experience and contemplates a new chapter in his life. "It’s definitely harder to find motivation when there’s nothing to be motivated for. A lot of days I just find myself in my pajamas, finding it difficult to find the motivation to get everything done.”
Angus echoes the feelings a lot of us have had lately. This lack of motivation shouldn’t come as a surprise when everyday seems to be on repeat: we work on assignments until our heads hurt, which leads to the same result -- another day feeling completely empty and bored.
“There is no substitute for in-class teaching in my opinion.” Lori-Ann May, a veteran teacher at Holy Cross Elementary School in Kemptville, speaks about the importance of in class learning. Having just come off of weeks of virtual teaching following the school shut down, she reflects on this online teaching period: “This has been the most challenging year in my twenty-four years in education. In past years, in my classroom, I’m able to see what all of the kids are doing, and it’s easier to read their facial expressions," she said. "Student eye contact and body language are very important to take in when you are a teaching, they are a key indicator of whether or not you’re getting through. Conversely, in the online learning world a lot of that understanding gets lost.”
"This has been the most challenging year in my twenty-four years in education."
- Lori-Ann May
In a recent online poll, I asked 150 high school students if they were given the choice, would they prefer to go back to in-person learning or stay home with virtual learning? The result: 70% of respondents said they would go back to school right now if they could.
Although their challenges are vastly different, both the student and teacher interviewed for this piece, along with the majority of students who participated in my poll, seem to share the same disdain for virtual learning.
So, if the question is: “Do we even need to go back?” based on my own online school experience as well as interviews and poll results, for most kids and educators, the answer is pretty apparent: Yes. For our mental health and to access far superior methods of teaching kids, we want and need to get back to in-school learning as soon as possible!