Not much is known about what school systems are planning for the fall of 2020. One thing is for sure – school in the fall won’t be like anything we’ve seen before. A few ideas are milling about, chatting with each other, each surprised at the lack of audacity in the other. But some are nearing audacity and some of the concepts are nothing short of a gigantic re-engineering of the social/cultural and economic fabric of the nation.
That fabric needs not only a good ironing (as it is wrinkled beyond ugly), but probably needs to be patched and sewn and certainly needs basting, as the edges are all torn and frayed. (Basting fabric is probably not that you think it is.)
But enough metaphors. Straight to the facts on the ground.
Full-time school, at any age, has always been a waste of time and money. It is even worse now. We need to create new structures outside of the building, some at home, some in the community, in which students can learn in different ways, especially experientially. That is to say, the way humans learned for the thousands of years before teachers decided they liked the title and needed a place to go – an office and a lounge – just for them.
With the switch to more community and home-based learning we can have fewer buildings, fewer staff, and more engagement. Ok, you can keep sports. With more home and community-based learning, the parents will have to be more involved. Uh-oh, what about the two-job family? Well, hello? We invented that too, so that people could afford to buy junk they didn’t need in the middle class context – and we invented that by making minimum wages so low that parents with fewer marketable skills had to have two jobs between them to survive.
Just as the pandemic has shown us a lot we can live without and that we can produce a lot of sacrifice in a short time, we can make changes that we never thought possible. We can learn, adapt, and make ourselves support new views on education and the economy that will have lasting benefits.
Imagination and change. It takes a virus. Check us out.