As I must have mentioned, my daughter was all primed to go to school in person as late as August 24, 2020. Instead, she got Zoom school this fall, after suffering through it from mid-March 2020 and on. It’s not actually on Zoom, but whatever. And that’s not what they label it.
They call it “remote learning.” Remote: “having very little connection with or relationship to”; that’s about right. On the last Sunday of January, I had five Zoom meetings. Well, almost. The church was on Facebook and one of the meetings was on a Zoom-like platform called Wonder.
Except for church, though, it was people looking at other people located in little rectangles on my computer. Worse, some people STILL haven’t mastered the mute button.
So I feel my daughter’s pain. She has four or five of those every weekday. Some folks, in trying to encourage her… well, didn’t. I’ve occasionally sat in on some of those courses. Despite the best effort of some of her teachers – some of them are preternaturally cheerful! – it was still stultifying after a couple of classes.
Since my wife has also taught remotely off and on, including two weeks in January 2021, I know it is harder emotionally, technologically, and organizationally, especially when she switched back and forth. The one thing she liked about remote learning was the extra 30 minutes of sleep.
The homework helper
It was less true at the beginning of the school year but more true now. I am the homework helper. My assistance with statistics, which I took twice, in college and grad school, is spotty at best. Whereas I’m better with American history because I actually remember the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the 1857 Dred Scott case. (No, I’m NOT that old.)
Still, I occasionally learn things I either forgot or never knew. For instance, everything you need to know about the 11th President appears in James K. Polk by They Might Be Giants. Possibly the most successful one-term chief executive.
Sometimes, I just sit with her to help her keep on task, such as when she works on her Environmental Science. She almost never even asks for my help in her art classes since she knows that it’s not in my wheelhouse.
For one course, she was supposed to find and describe a poster that addresses social justice. The caveat is that the work is not to be political. If by political, they mean “vote for Bernie” or “X sucks”, then OK.
But it seems that social justice, by its very nature, is at least small-p political. Labor rights, hunger, fighting racism/sexism/homophobia, et al. These all often require political action, allocation of resources. Sure you can buy a meal for someone, but addressing systemic food deserts require a broader action. Or José Andrés,, at least.