By Raghav Podar,
Necessary by the pandemic, online education has seen a prolific increase over the past year. Intensive efforts by educators to support the transition have mitigated the negative impact on academic processes, even though school and university buildings were closed to prevent the spread of the virus. The appointment with online education has yielded reasonable results given the circumstances, but has failed miserably when compared to the myriad of benefits of physical education. Debate over the issue of the physical reopening of schools has intensified as the governments of several states have conditionally authorized the physical reopening of certain classes in schools.
While the risk of infection remains the main argument for those who advocate continuing online education, virtual support has major limitations in the development of socio-emotional skills. The safety and comfort of home learning is at odds with children’s need to reach their developmental milestones in interpersonal skills. While virtual learning spaces are a good way to deliver content, the critical task of developing students’ future skills takes a hit with the lack of collaborative learning opportunities. This is not to totally castigate online learning, as it has allowed many shy, reserved or introverted children to find their confidence and thrive, which could have taken longer in the classroom. physical class.
However, for the majority, students miss opportunities to make friends, to trust, to compete, to feel disappointed and to build memories formed in school, which one carries throughout life. and develops character. A child must learn to fail, brush their teeth, lift their heads and keep moving forward in pursuit of their goals. The critical skill of resilience can never be taught in any curriculum, but it is developed in small doses every day in classrooms across our country.
A more serious victim of the lockdowns induced by the pandemic and the resulting lack of social interaction is in the core years of the age of 3 to 6. These are among the fastest growing years of the human brain. The brain at this age is like a sponge, absorbing all the sensory experiences it feeds on. The early years lay the foundation for healthy development of a child’s brain, and the lack of high-quality sensory experiences and social interactions hampers healthy growth in children. Learning at this age goes well beyond the 3Rs – reading, writing, arithmetic!
This problem is exacerbated in urban areas where children are locked in their homes with little or no access to outdoor and open spaces. There is a direct correlation between sedentary lifestyles and low levels of learning, not to mention obesity and other physical illnesses. The parents of many of these children express concern about delays in reaching benchmarks for natural development of speech and comprehension.
Not all children are able to effectively understand lessons or on-screen instructions. Equally difficult is the situation for parents trying to cope with new teaching models and for teachers unable to relate personally to each of their students. In its most fundamental sense, education is not a transactional phenomenon; it’s not just about managing the curriculum. The essence of what good teaching is is based on the human relationship and the bond that a teacher forms with each of his students.
There is an increase in cases of low self-esteem, inability to analyze and respond to situations, and lack of spontaneity in children who have started to lead lifestyles devoid of physical movement and social interaction. adequate. The parents of these students have been vehemently lobbying for the reopening of schools even as they go the extra mile to help develop these interpersonal skills in their neighborhoods. Even as physical schools reopen, educators are taking extra care to bridge the gap between the academic and non-academic gaps in children caused by the pandemic.
As the lockdowns brought on by the pandemic have given rise to daunting challenges, teachers across the country have seized the opportunity and done a remarkable job in reducing the difficulties and stunting in children. The crisis caused enormous hardship, but also developed the strength and ability to overcome those difficulties in those who converted challenges into opportunities for growth.
I have immense faith in the potential of Indian students, and through the concerted efforts of passionate educators, I am sure our young stars will shine through adversity, brighter and stronger!
(The author is President of Podar Education. Opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)