Visionaries wanted. No others need apply.
Whether we like it or not, we must adapt to the changes presented by the covid crisis.
That goes for the way we govern, the way we work, the way we take care of our sick and elderly, and the way we teach our children.
How we taught our kids two months ago will not be the way we teach them whenever they return to school.
Just to get them through the current school year, parents had to participate in home-schooling, often in subjects they couldn’t pass themselves.
Schools have had to rely on technology like video conferencing to bring the personal experience to students. Teachers have had to supplement their daily classroom work with follow-up phone calls and conference calls, and have had to address special-needs students in way that is far from the ideal of what they really need.
But if anyone believes that we can go back to the old ways of educating our kids, they’re clearly not dealing in reality.
An overhaul of our educational system was long overdue anyway. The covid crisis made that more evident, as well as opened our eyes to new opportunities and new approaches for educating our children.
So we’re encouraged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s effort to “reimagine” education in the wake of the outbreak.
He’s enlisting the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to work with the state to develop a “smarter education system,” one that envisions a fresh look at education in the post-covid world.
But as one might expect, the reaction from those with a vested interest in the status quo,was instantly negative.
One teachers union offered resistance to the suggestion that technology could play a much bigger role. One education group said the effort would undermine public schools.
Others said teachers, parents and other education experts should be involved in the effort.
First off, no one said they wouldn’t be included. In fact, not including them would be foolish. Their knowledge, expertise and buy-in are necessary to its success.
But their role needs to be constructive, not obstructionist. They need to be accepting of new approaches to teaching our children. If they ignore reality and allow fear and self-interest to dominate the effort, then it will go nowhere, and our children will suffer.
The new effort might involve changes to the way the school day or school year is arranged. It might involve having more kids get some or all of their education through distance learning, with only special-needs students going into school for instruction. It might include abandoning traditional curricula and traditional teaching methods for approaches that are better suited to greater use of technology.
While moving forward with new ideas, the governor and his team of innovators must be cognizant of the limitations of technology and be respectful of the benefits of many current approaches to education.
The new world of education must be a hybrid of the old and the new.
It’s not just something we should all wish for.
It’s something we should strive for.