The educational world has, like many other sectors, been experiencing a thorough shake up and sweeping away of familiar structures in the last couple of months. A learning experience for all concerned. As the Covid-19 crisis rumbles on there seems to be increasing evidence that these temporary measures might actually be closer to the future norms than we may care to admit. Could this be the moment to be forced into standing education on its head and facing up to new realities and new needs? Not just the needs of the immediate requirements of medical necessity, but also of the type of education that we need right now in 2020 and the years to come?
Here in the Netherlands we are just starting to loosen the lockdown. Primary schools have started a partial reopening this week and secondary schools look set to follow at the start of June. Temporary timetables of reduced classes will be made to perhaps give some sort of sense of a restart in the few weeks left until the summer holiday. But it also looks increasingly likely that the much longed for securities of educational familiarity might not be on offer when we return at the end of August or the beginning of September.
What started off as temporary and emergency measures might yet rapidly take on a more permanent, or at least long lasting perspective. Education with reduced school time blended with learning at home looks an increasingly more likely possibility.
The school where I work have been busy for the last two to three years working on a new concept for the education that we offer. We were, and indeed are, intending to fully launch it after the summer break. It is less dependent on the classical lesson structure of 30 children in a classroom and the teacher at the front. There is more room for the pupils to work independently, at their own pace and level.
The intention was of course to facilitate this independent element at school, but in the Covid-19 version of education this might very well be the section that is moved out to the home study area. For us, as with all in education, there are important decisions to be made. But as a school we have already made some useful and relevant steps in directions that may well prove to be extremely useful. I does feel that the weekly developments and their effects on education are a Pandora’s box that is slowly opening with new limitations, challenges but also perhaps opportunities. Is this the time and the moment to take a critical look at what we do and how we do it? And at the same time to not be afraid to say that we have to do things differently, and indeed want to do things differently? Time will tell, but an interesting article appeared in the UK based Guardian newspaper today that touches on many of these points and raises a couple of interesting and neglected directions that are neglected areas in education philosophies.