UPDATE: This post was originally published in Business World magazine. Click here to view the post.
Last week, I was on one of those ‘Howdy, in times of COVID-19’ calls with a friend. She asked me how home schooling for the baby was coming along. Another call started with ‘So, how is the digital classroom going for the little one?’
I have since then used my response as the standard FAQ on this topic, and it goes something like this:
“It’s going great. We are following a slightly different values-based curriculum. We start our day with a lesson on perseverance, with a module on mopping and dusting. We then go on to kindness with watering of plants, giving fruits/vegetable peels to cows in the back lane etc. After this we move on to autonomy, with a gentle nudge to the little one to conquer bath time and mealtime with minimum fuss. We reinforce some of these values through the day by offering more practice time for these, and adding newer values such as awareness (read – cleanup the room) and new skills such as confidence by applying sauce and spreading cheese on the pizza :).”
I am being part self-deprecating here. I don’t see the point of adding to our conflicted reality (“Should I first finish the laundry, or cook for rest of the day?”) by adding more conflicts to it (“Should we finish the virtual tour of Louvre or make a digital stop-over at the Van Gogh Museum?”).
Many of us parents have been swarmed with so many resources, ideas and content to engage & educate our children that this deluge often, unwittingly, triggers further anxiety in us. The anxiety of choosing the most relevant & valuable ones; and even the anxiety of using these resources at all, at a point in time when most of us are struggling between house-work, professional work and managing our own emotions.
In fact, in these unprecedented times, when we are all playing a MMOG version of The Survivor, what else could we be teaching or learning alongside our children, but survival skills and becoming more humane?
If we merely try to recreate the existing process of learning as usual and living digitally we may end up missing a larger point – that we have to take a moment to acknowledge the failings of the current academic, economic and social systems. These are the same systems that have rewarded material wealth over physical health, competition over collaboration, self-preservation over kindness and fear over love. Isn’t it then an opportunity to re-consider our priorities as individuals, families, communities, countries and may I dare say, as a species?
We know that post COVID-19 the world will not be the same place and much of the change will be imposed upon us. But are there no changes we wish to make of our own volition in response to this cataclysmic event?
It’s an important, personal question that each of us needs to answer.
For me, as a person, and, as a parent, the most important question is in this post-pandemic, climate change stricken, highly outraged, inequitable world – what will it mean to be human? What will we need to unlearn and learn to become more humane? Will we have the courage to challenge the status quo, or will we continue to chase the same illusory safety nets.