Flipping the Line: Quit whining about online school
Do something about it.
The Line welcomes angry rebuttals. The best will be featured in our ongoing series, Flipping the Line. Today, Tara Houle wishes parents would stop whining about online schooling and actually do something about it; she is responding to one of our recent dispatches.
If I have to read yet another account from another esteemed journalist bemoaning her life through another school lockdown, I think I’m going to scream. I wouldn’t mind if the story focused on the child, and how their world has been ripped apart by the seams, but do we really need to hear one more account about how the grown-ups are suffering too?
We’re all aware how school shutdowns affect our kids — my youngest is still waiting to attend her high-school graduation. And she’s in her second year of university. We know the damage these shutdowns are inflicting as headlines glare daily about how signs of eroding mental health are spiking amongst our youth, and there doesn’t seem to be any family I know who hasn’t been adversely affected by these nonsensical rules and never-ending shutdowns of our society. But we have before us an opportunity to respond by offering our kids more, rather than falling to despair.
And I know this because I was worried about the state of our schools before the COVID shutdowns.
Anna Stokke is a math professor, 3M National Teaching Fellow, co-founder of Western Initiative for Strengthening Education in Math (WISE Math), co-founder and president of the non-profit Archimedes Math School, and most importantly, a wonderful wife and mum. She became an advocate because she was mad too — but she decided to do something about it. Ten years on, she’s still going strong. Out of her concern shared by a colleague, came a national movement (www.wisemath.org) bringing awareness to our kids’ sagging math performance which had been flying under the radar for a very long time.
Their tireless advocacy made math curricula stronger in several jurisdictions, it fuelled a math initiative in four different provinces, and galvanized parents and teachers everywhere to work together and fight against the progressive bullshit which had crept in and taken over the education establishment. She didn’t just talk about it, she offered solutions to the problem, and demanded action from our leaders. I’m proud to have been a part of that movement, because it made our ministers change course and they were held accountable for the lousy job they were doing. In short, we made them blink. There is still much more work to do, and here on the Left Coast, our education leaders prefer to ignore good advice and carry on in their progressive push to dumb our students down and turn away from every single evidentiary piece that creates a strong education system.
The fact that parents out here are abandoning the public system in droves, garnering the lowest enrolment in public schools nationally, seems lost on those in charge. The push continues, but much louder voices need to enter the fray, if we want to do right by our kids. We’ve attended district meetings, written opinion pieces, created petitions, and gone to court all in the singlehanded pursuit of fighting for our kids. We sure could have used a bit of coverage to help with all of that a long time ago, and perhaps if we had a bit of support along the way, we’d now be stronger to stand up to the education establishment today and say, “Hell no I’m not going to stand for this!” and actually do something to make our kids’ world brighter, rather than succumb to screens eight hours a day.
There are teachers I know who have quit during the COVID lockdowns because they could not, in good conscience, subject their young students to six hours a day in front of a screen. They have found alternative platforms to hone their craft, and parents are finding different ways to teach their kids too. Excellent resources abound (the best ones are still textbooks — and for many subjects, the older the better. They can easily be found at your local library or second-hand bookstores or online). Learning Pods are a great way to ensure kids still have a few friends to learn with, and there are a variety of teachers, and/or parents who’d be able to oversee it all that live in your own neighbourhood. As parents, we know online learning is damaging for kids, we are acutely aware of the COVID brain drain scenario, so why do so many still succumb to it?
We’ve never lived in a more prestigious, educated time than the present day. We are powerful, confident and smart. I am not supportive of revolutionary tactics, but I am most certainly an advocate for holding systems to account, to help make them stronger, and I’d be very willing to help support any cause that does exactly that. It’s up to us. The institutions that are falling apart are doing so on our watch. We complain, and write editorials, then stand by and let it happen without demanding any accountability. The general public has never had more opportunity than today to claim it back, and make it ours again. So why not start something or even better, join us and make us stronger? I hope the next editorial I read in a national publication, or hear on our national airwaves, might be a joint effort in asking for more support in taking these institutions back. Just think what 10 united parents might accomplish at a schoolboard meeting? Heck, even three parents at the principal’s office … they’d have no choice but to change tactics.
Or boycott the classroom altogether, and start something new. We have more power than any other generation ever before, but it’s up to us to want it. Once and for all, for our kids. So please just … do anything. But stop the whining. I just can’t take it anymore.
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