Life in the Time of COVID-19, Part 7: Academic Freeze Now?

Posted on - in Education, Life

So, I was pretty busy today that it was only late in the afternoon when I saw a topic on Twitter about calling for an academic freeze in the Philippines due to the difficulties encountered in online learning during the pandemic.

The hashtag #AcademicFreezeNOW trended Thursday, September 3, roughly about 6 months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and less than a month since some schools started to open the school year.

Academic Freeze Now - CNN Philippines Twitter

Not a few students have described their challenges in online learning — bad internet connection and heavy study load among others. Some posts have divulged mental and emotional stress not only among students but also teachers and parents. And there are a few screenshots of people selling things that should not be sold to others due to the need for load for Zoom or Google meets for class.

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I must admit, the kids and I are almost done with the first month of our homeschooling. We didn’t choose online learning or distance learning for a number of reasons, such as internet connection. Granted that I, the Teacher Mom, am working from home, homeschooling proved to be quite a challenge in terms of time management. Also, it was a challenge in expectations — I thought I had it all planned, but some things didn’t work out as expected.

But in times like those, we are able to take breaks and reschedule, which I think is the beauty of homeschooling. Since I depend on my kids’ pace, I go with their flow of learning. It may be a bit slower or quicker than usual, but the important thing is that there are learnings at the end of the day.

We’ve hit milestones: Eldest understanding Math better (“I can tell my classmates that I’m good at Math na!“), Bunso¬†at five years old knowing what CTRL-A is and how to do it correctly (LOL!). Of course there still are things to work on like Bunso speaking in Filipino (and more importantly, in front of the camera, haha!). Bottomline, even if we’ve encountered a number of difficulties, we’re going through with the new kind of schooling while adjusting to this flexible type of learning. So no, we didn’t do an academic freeze. We just went with something a bit different from the traditional.

Oh yeah, we’ve enrolled the kids at Peniel Integrated Christian Academy of Rizal, a homeschool provider that’s DepEd-accredited. I keep forgetting to make a post about that. Next time.

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To be honest, since around April or May this year, I’ve had apprehensions on how schools will be pivoting to online or digital. And I guess my concerns were right.

The set-up for most is “school-at-home,” which is like bringing the traditional type of learning out of the classroom and into homes. And I think this is where the problem lies.

The dynamics in school is far different from that of the home. Bringing lessons at home without considering the family or household dynamics will surely cause a lot of issues. And, looking at the tweets and posts about it, many feel that they’re just meeting requirements, and that learning is secondary or even optional.

Which should not be the case.

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So should the Philippines have an academic freeze?

If it were me, it would be “no.” Education is important — a lot of what we learn in school, we apply outside and in many aspects of our lives.

But the key, I think (and I’m not an expert so you can take this with a grain of salt), is to pivot the right way. It’s not just simply having Zoom meetings or Google meets, or having modules printed, or assignments given and done at home, and expect all the kids in class learn together at the same time.

People are wired differently; learning curves, well, curve differently and at varied times. If some kids found some subjects harder in school, what more at home where there is limited time for explanations and no face-to-face encounters?

Zoom, Google, and modules can only do so much. And also internet connectivity.

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I think we should stop expecting that what worked before — in the traditional educational setting — would still do if we simply shift locations and media.

The adjustment made must go beyond that shift.

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I think what should be done is not academic freeze but academic change. Or maybe educational change is more apt.

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It’s during these times that I appreciate having exposed myself and the family to learnings beyond academics.

And what’s nice is that I realize that even practical lessons can be combined with academics for what can be something like holistic education. Make it individual-paced, and I think it would be less stressful for everyone.

Maybe it’s what institutions should be considering, eh?

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Then again, I’m no educational expert.

#EndStreamOfConsciousness

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