Imagine you are in Europe during World War II with German Airplanes Roaring above your head and then comes an expert calling the situation a ‘New Normal’…. That’s exactly what I feel when I hear the term ‘New Normal’ to describe the current situation.
What is the term?
If you are active on the internet, you must have seen different Webinars or have read a few articles where they call teaching-learning during this pandemic as a New Normal. They even envision that this is what will replace schools.
Why can't this be the New Normal?
The current situation is an emergency and we’re dealing with it. Though we’re trying our best to cope-up with the situation, I don’t want the future teaching-learning to look like this. Here’s why I think so:
1. The Digital Divide: The first and foremost issue is the digital divide. The technology we use for teaching now is not available to everyone. This creates a digital divide where a few privileged get to learn(?) while others are deprived of it.
2.Technlogical limitations: No one can assure you a successful class, there might be an issue from the speaker end or from the listener end, or even at the platform end. We always have to have a plan B ready.
3. Online safety: Privacy and online safety are immediate issues to deal with. Kids (or even teachers) click some spam links that may put them into an unwanted situation. You are always at the risk of compromising your privacy.
3. Physiological and psychological issues: Screen time during this pandemic can invite different physiological problems. It is also seen that attending online classes leads to anxiety and depression.
5. Passive listeners and active parents: You must have seen a photograph where the kid is playing around while his mother is attending the class. There’s an incident shared by a teacher where this student has renamed himself as CONNECTING… to avoid answering. I have seen even grown-ups who just join the meeting and keep doing their own work. This passive listening is a big concern.
Parents criticizing teachers is the new normal. The private space we used to get as a teacher is not private anymore, it’s public. and one wrong sentence/gesture can make you meme material.
5. Human Touch: Finally, teaching is not merely about giving knowledge, it’s about loving your students, caring for them, having informal interactions with them. When I think of my school days, I might have forgotten what my teachers taught me, but I do remember their way of thinking, their attitude, and my silly efforts to imitate them. We’re missing that human touch.
So, is this all bad? NO! We’re dealing with it and somehow are trying to reach our students by different means. Many of my fellow teachers are doing a commendable job. But this, what we are doing now, is not normal, this is an emergency and whether you’re a teacher or a student or a parent, you want this to end soon and return to your class.
But are classes going to be the same after this gets over? Here’s what I think:
How is it going to affect future teaching-learning?
1. Better connections: During this pandemic, we have seen parents and teachers working hand in hand. I’m anticipating a better connection between the stakeholders in the post-pandemic era. Teachers can be better connected with parents and students and with the professional learning networks.
2. Blended courses: We may plan courses where face to face interactions in classrooms are accompanied by some online work from home. The nature of homework may change as well. We may see flipped classrooms and blended learning.
3. Wise use of technology: This pandemic has made us teachers better able to use technology. When schools reopen, I’m sure there are many interesting areas to explore in using technology in the classroom.
To sum up, though our good old friend has said, What’s in a name?; using the term ‘New Normal’ is an attempt to fake that ‘All is Well’ and we are ready to accept this situation as a Normal. And I am not ready for this.
What do you think? Please share in the comment section.