Our View: Reaction to remote learning

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Graphic by Eva McCord '21

The Tower Editorial Board

Right now, our nation is facing a vast amount of uncertainty, whether it be about our health, our jobs, or simply wondering when life is going to return to normal. Schools are an institution walking on especially new ground, and it’s causing both students and staff to feel the strain on their mental health. The implementation of online learning has undoubtedly had a big impact on students, both mentally and physically. We at The Tower believe that it’s important to recognize the stressful nature of remote learning, but also we must commend the hard work of South’s teachers and staff.
Every student learns differently. For many, the social interaction that comes with being in a classroom is extremely beneficial and helps them stay motivated. Others may find that their voice can’t be heard within a traditional classroom setting, or find it hard to focus on lectures. Sitting inside for nearly an entire day can have a negative affect on students’ mental health as well. For most of our high school careers, we have never had this much independence over our day-to-day schedules, which can be a source of both anxiety as well as liberation.
Remote learning has brought about a drastic change in the way students are taking in information, and for many, this style of learning is completely new. It has forced us to be more in charge of our own schedules, and in many cases, opened up a copious amount of free time. To some, the lack of extrinsic motivation may be overwhelming, but other students may find that this allows them to thrive. The challenge is finding a way to support students that are struggling without undermining the privilege that is being able to continue our education during this trying time.
According to Yale University’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, students benefit from different kinds of instruction, and learn best when provided with “various ways to enter into learning”, such as active learning, group work and inclusive teaching strategies. While not all of this may be possible at the moment, it allows us as a community to open up our minds to the possibility of implementing some of this extra time in a way that can benefit both our mental and physical wellbeing by experimenting with strategies that are not normally available.
For those who find that a traditional classroom setting isn’t the most productive way for them to learn, this time may bring about some exciting opportunities. Thanks to technology, people are still able to connect with each other, which makes staying at home much easier. Schedules have become more flexible, allowing for time to discover new hobbies and passions, as well as learning in an order that a student wants, at the time they want; students may find that they’re being more productive since they’re doing more of what they want to do at a pace that best suits them.
That being said, it is important to note that certain responsibilities, such as caring for younger siblings, may take up a majority of a student’s time, making it much more difficult for them to take advantage of self-isolation in the same way their peers are. Many of us are incredibly fortunate to have this time to explore new activities and ways of learning, but we must remember those who cannot by being compassionate towards all of our teachers and fellow students.
While remote learning might not be the perfect solution for everyone, we at The Tower we thank everyone who is helping navigate the choppy waters and praise the district and teaching staff for rolling out their plans quickly and efficiently. Statewide lockdown and online learning are unprecedented, and it affects each student and family differently. However, thanks to the support of many families, teachers and faculty members, we can do our best to remain balanced and ride out the storm together.