The dark underbelly of Virtual Learning

The dark underbelly of Virtual Learning

Samrat Urval

February 6, 2021

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Pandemic adverse effects on learning and mental health

 

Given the pandemic, it has disrupted many things. One side of the coin would suggest that some of this disruption has been beneficial — the opportunity to spend time with near and dear ones, the chance to reflect on ourselves. Exploring to ask ourselves the tough and existential questions that we may have been either too distracted by other stuff pre-COVID or ignored it.

 

On the other side of the coin is the problems this pandemic has caused everyone concerning hardships in businesses, uncertainty in jobs, being couped at home, challenges to mental health etc. The sheer responsibility as adults to navigate the balancing act of professional and personal lives has been a challenge in every way. One can only imagine the test of mental toughness when the line between personal and professional life begins to blur. It is aggravated further when an adult is also a parent as additional responsibility is bestowed upon them. The joy of raising a child is nothing short of spectacular as it is captivating to watch unlimited potential taking strides into the unknown.

 

The Stress on the Brain and Body

 

Life is exigent for adults with a fully functional mature body and brain during this pandemic, especially when cooped up in a house for such lengthy durations. Now take the same intensity and multiply it several times, and that is how children and teenagers feel. As a parent, imagine the stress on their mental and physical well-being. They are spending almost the entire day at home with online classes, reading, homework and projects. It may seem convenient in the beginning but can be heavily taxing on the social and intellectual self. The virtual world has been a blessing in some ways. Still, it can never match the offering of experientially immersing in a situation of real learning.

 

School might not be Cool again.

 

Going back to school would be put on a pedestal as we learn the value of having teachers and students around. The space is real; children can observe, understand, and make mistakes to have consequences that will only elevate their learning graph. The rules for schools will be different, as parents and teachers will raise relevant questions on keeping the same quality of learning. While keeping the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social safety of the class? 

 

The students would undoubtedly be in an intimate space but still be confined in their classroom. Such a situation poses a danger for essential life skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, self-direction, communication, collaboration, perseverance, time management, etc. will take a back seat. These life skills are paramount in students’ healthy development. The sooner they are adept with it, the more proficient they can successfully deal with the world.

 

Right Direction

 

Being in a school environment may superficially address these vital skills due to circumstances beyond its control. They may have other priorities like addressing the syllabus and preparing students for upcoming tests and exams. There is a need to deep dive into these life skills and simultaneously let children be children. Teachers and parents can achieve the delicate balance through Experiential Education, where educators can direct a child towards self-actualization. Going out into nature and experientially immersing themselves is a powerful mechanism to set the child on the right trajectory.

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