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Families, education and COVID-19

Our country has always been focused on the family. Raising a family after all is the most important thing we do. Perpetuate the human race. Countries and economies that have failed or done poorly in the past invariably have failed at focusing on making life better for raising kids.

Today the combination of COVID-19 and politics have made this family raising task harder for us. The biggest hit in my opinion has come in schools. Distance learning is a great tool for mature students who can self-start and are motivated to learn. But for the younger students or even early college age kids, learning solely on line or from a book can be a struggle.

As a freshman at a major university, I had difficulty with calculus because our class was 300 students in a huge auditorium. I'd never had trouble in math until then. I ended up with a B, which was made worse because I really didn't understand the material. I ended up dropping out for medical reasons and began night school at a local city college. And there was my old high school math teacher in a class of 25 or so in calculus 102. I caught on the first night and never looked back. So it just isn't the grade school or high school students that reap benefits from face-to-face instruction, young adults can also.

Many school systems are struggling with the COVID forced stay at home policies. The teachers are doing all they can with current technology to duplicate the classroom with students at home. But make no mistake here, most of the students are not learning the material like they would in class. This puts the pressure on parents to be the disciplinarian and to constantly monitor what their children are doing. Grade school and junior high students especially need this attention. Some high school kids can go it alone but most also require attention.

I know it's tough but just asking a student how they are doing isn't enough. You have to get into the bloody details of their work to be sure they are doing what they should. I've had high school students tell their parents that they are fine when in fact they haven't turned in any assignments for a week.

Home schooling is an option for sure and many have taken this route. I'm a mechanical engineer and was a production manager for 29 years. Now in my second career, I've taught high school math and science for 14 years. Even with that experience, I'd be reluctant to home school above the 6th grade. There's a reason why most schools have more than one teacher for the junior high curriculum. Are you kidding me, that material is tough. Then there's high school. US History, world history, government, foreign languages, biology, anatomy, physiology, forensic science, chemistry, math every year, physical science, physics, English and grammar, creative writing, literature, computer science, computer technology, yearbook, sports & cheer leading every single day, dance, art, music ... oh my.

If you look at the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, we have another two years or so to deal with this pandemic. Crank down on your kids' educational activities because we're in this for the long run. We're behind in education but with tenacity and effort we'll catch up and maybe even be ahead when things return to normal. Hey, maybe this in the new normal. Nah, sorry. That's unacceptable. We recovered by 1921, we'll recover now.

Gene Canavan is a retired West Point Graduate and Paper Mill Utilities Manager and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA.



 


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