September 2020

Think this Generation will be Left Behind?

Think Again.

By Suki Wessling

I keep hearing the same thing over and over: Our kids are going to have “gaps.” They’re going to be “left behind.” Permanently scarred. Unable to have a “normal” college education.

And it makes me wonder: are we really so entitled that we think a little pandemic can keep our kids down?

Here’s a thought exercise:
Remember the holocaust generation.
Think about what it was like for Jewish kids in Europe. A few common experiences included being hounded by the police, hiding for months or years in basements and attics, being forced into concentration camps, fleeing in the trunks of cars, arriving in unfamiliar countries with only the clothing on their backs.

Moving outward, consider all children in Europe. School disrupted on a regular basis. Near starvation for many of them. Homes in ruins, school in rubble. Losing parents and grandparents.

Still further, children in the United States. Seeing their fathers go off to war. Living on rations. Losing teachers and community members to the war. Knowing that the last thing on any adult’s mind was making life perfect for kids.

These are the people who built the modern world.
These kids who lived through World War II are the people who put the first human being on the moon.

These are the people who designed modern computers.
These are the people who innovated in every branch of study, from linguistics to neuroscience.

Are we really so entitled?
Yes, this pandemic is awful. We have not yet seen the full effects on our health, on our government services, on our jobs. This pandemic is going to touch every aspect of our lives eventually.

But to say that just because our kids have to learn on a screen for a short while longer, we’re ruining their lives? Really?

We can do this.
Kids are resilient. Research shows that having a perfect, smooth childhood is not actually the best thing for them. They need something to push back against. People respond to obstacles with creativity.

Families are creative. Yes, this is not what you were planning to do with your year. I had a year like that. When my younger child was four, we realized that they hadn’t yet designed a school that was going to work for him. I considered the first day of kindergarten my “first day back to my real life.” Instead, I was at home full-time with a kid who needed more than I thought I was prepared to give.

But we did it. And you can, too.

Remember what you still have.
Caring teachers who are working their asses off trying to learn a new mode of delivering education.

Schools that are groaning under the weight of constantly shifting expectations but still doing what they have always done—trying to educate our kids.
Amazing online tools to support you, challenge you, and expand your vision of what education can be.

Networks of other parents who are in the same boat. In the past, homeschoolers had to look far and wide for a support system. You’ve got yours built into your PTA or your Facebook feed.

Make the most of this time.
It will be over before you know it. We’ll be back to “normal” sooner than you expect. This will only happen once (we hope) so take advantage of this time to get creative and support your kids as best you can.

 

 Suki Wessling is a local writer and teacher who homeschooled and schooled her two children, now grown. She writes about education, homeschooling, and parenting. Read more at www.SukiWessling.com.

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One Comment

  • Kris Hill

    I am a teacher in Santa Cruz and agree whole-heartedly. It is incredibly challenging teaching kids online. However, we now appreciate those things we took for granted, simple things, important things- hugs, gatherings, getting help on a project face to face. We are being asked to be responsible for our community and our planet or face far worse consequences. This is our turn to grow.

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