Essay on Learning During The Pandemic
For almost two decades of our lives, us students, have been learning in a classroom at school surrounded by our peers and mentors. The recent global pandemic, caused by the COVID-19 virus, has put that demographic on a pause. Schools all across the world are coming up with ways to alter the learning environment for the safety of their students and staff, whether it be online or face-to-face. In both situations, there has been a measurable effect on the motivation, engagement, and daily routines of students and staff.
One solution many schools, including my own, have resorted to is online, synchronous learning. The total switch of getting an education from a classroom to our bedrooms has had its many impacts on learning. Online schooling has provided opportunities for students to learn how to self-pace and determine what learning style works best for them. Since the beginning of online learning, I have been able to navigate my way through endless resources and find methods that help me learn best. Personally, my attentiveness and focus is stronger-willed in the evening. With online schooling, I can learn course content and take diligent notes at a time when I’m more motivated, as opposed to the limited morning courses I would take in-person. The online environment has also minimized the danger of exposure to the Covid-19 virus which we have seen take millions of innocent lives within the past year.
Although virtual learning has opened up new doors for students to explore individual learning techniques, it has also had its drawbacks. Having to learn from home, isolates students from their peers, teachers, and even their will to attend school. Many of us found comfort from seeing familiar faces and hearing familiar voices. With the ability to hide behind a screen and completely silence our own presences with a mere click of a button, human interactions have become virtually nonexistent. Engagement and attention of students has become increasingly harder for teachers to obtain. Students like myself don't even have to get out of bed anymore to attend school; I can roll onto my side, log into Zoom, and be in class all within the same minute. Remote learning also offers itself up to thousands of distractions and easily shifts the attention of students away from their teachers to the begging notifications on their phones. More and more students are falling behind due to these distractions and teachers are struggling to keep communications alive and supportive.
Just as online learning has demonstrated that there are many pros and cons to remoteness, there are also pros and cons to in-person learning. Unlike online learning, in-person learning allows for physical interactions between students and teachers. This improves communication, builds connections, and strengthens engagement in the learning environment. One of the biggest benefits I have noticed in my friends who participate in in-person learning is that they are considerably happier. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, social needs come before cognitive needs. When students go to in-person school and have their love and belonging needs met, they can continue on to their cognitive needs and be more focused and attentive to what the teacher has to say.
With the benefits of socialization and boosted morale found in in-person learning, it is easy to forget about the costs disposed of in the interest of these gains. Living in a pandemic has prompted the worldwide practice of personal protective equipment and social distancing. Many schools across the nation are struggling with ways to enforce these new safety procedures and protocols. It can also prove to be very expensive to supply the disinfecting materials and protective face coverings necessary for in-person instruction. Those same friends I mentioned earlier who were happy with the opportunities of socialization have also brought up their constant worry of having to switch to online-learning. Attending in-person school during the ongoing pandemic presents many uncertainties in not only exposure to the virus but also to the capabilities of the school operations.
For any student, or person in fact, this pandemic has thrown many unforeseen challenges in the way of daily life. It has prevented us from gathering with friends and loved ones, halted us from participating in community activities, and restricted us from experiencing normalcy for many years to come. As a senior in high school, it has taken away many of my “lasts.” My last time going to homecoming, my last time putting on a JROTC uniform, my last time playing high school tennis, my last time being a normal high school student.
At the beginning of online-learning, I struggled a great deal with trying to stay motivated in not just school, but life in general. I no longer had the luxury of being able to talk with friends at school or the opportunity to stay active through high school athletics. I had to modify all my normal school routines. After adjusting to online-learning, I discovered ways to activate the parts of me that seemed to be put on hold. FaceTiming friends and exercising along to YouTube videos became aspects of my new routines. Through remote learning, I came to realise the importance of socialization and physical activity to my own basic daily function.
There are various ways in which students can overcome obstacles and gain an education. Whether that’s through isolated online-learning from safety of home or through the socially distanced in-person learning where communication is more readily accessible. Each solution has its difficulties and its methods of perseverance. And both environments include opportunities for students to discover self growth and reflection. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “ Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Even though school resuming to normal sounds like a distant desire for most students, it’s important to remember these words and have hope for a safe and brighter future.