Sacramento, CA — As I finish off the end of my senior year of high school, I have gone from spending seven hours of in-person learning to three hours a day in virtual learning. I am now starting to wonder how much time I have wasted sitting in classes when I did not need to.
COVID-19 has brought change to our school system that we have never seen before. It has also given us an opportunity to permanently reform the way we approach school for the better.
Virtual learning suddenly gave me more flexibility than I have ever had. I now finish school at noon instead of 3 p.m. Going to school from home has given me so much more time to enjoy and explore my passions. I painted, embroidered, crocheted, shot videos and read books I actually liked. I never had time to indulge in these activities when I was attending school in-person.
There is undeniable value in in-person schooling. Students need to be able to speak with their teachers face-to-face and collaborate with their peers. Distance learning is often interrupted when the teacher’s WiFi cuts out, leaving thirty black screens waiting in a Zoom. However, we cannot ignore the fact that a lot of learning can take place at home.
As I reflect back on the past four years of high school, I’m realizing there have been hours I have spent at school doing nothing productive. Perhaps I finished my work early, the teacher is reviewing a test question I got correct, or there is a substitute playing a movie — no matter the reason, I was zoned out and watching the clock hands taunting me by moving as slowly as possible. I am now mourning the hours lost.
All students learn at different paces. Why not allow the student to dictate how much time they need to grasp a concept themselves?
When a student quickly understands the material, they should be able to move on. When they come across something difficult, they should be able to slow down. The model of learning in which students watch lectures or read texts on their own time and then come to class to discuss or ask questions is ideal. At least, that’s a method that works for me.
Yes, in-person learning is effective, but it works best in moderation. We should be minimizing the amount of time students spend in classrooms as much as possible because we need freedom and flexibility.
We should be encouraging youth to nurture our interests instead of claiming most of our daylight hours for school. Learning is not exclusive to the classroom. I loved being able to nurture my creativity. The activities that I picked up have just as much value as the subjects taught in school. My interest in film has led me to shooting and editing videos, something that I have never done before. Instead of sitting through yet another lesson on Rolle’s theorem, I was exploring Premiere Pro and Photoshop. I am learning so much that I never would have in school.
COVID-19 took a lot away from us, but it also gave us the opportunity to look at education differently. Here is the chance to ease our schools into a new learning model that gives students back their days and their freedom.