• Ariana Friedlander

Giving voice to our hopes and aspirations for thriving during COVID-19


Like many parents, I've been scrambling to figure out how to manage homeschooling while working remotely. This week so far, I've invested over 10 hours in navigating this situation. The vast majority of that time has been in conversation. I've been meeting with other parents, composing emails, educating myself about what our school district is expecting of us and exploring our options.

As I was talking with some teachers about what we can expect remote learning to look like, I was really disappointed when they said that our school district is expecting them to follow the master schedule for in-person school, remotely.

We know that change is upon us right now. The circumstances we find ourselves in are incredibly dynamic. There is so much shifting, and it's happening at a rapid pace. I for one want to take this moment in time as an opportunity to re-imagine what we want our communities and even our society to look like moving forward.


We have an opportunity to re-imagine a lot. Things that have not been working ideally for so long, like our health care system or our education system, can be re-shaped in our image. But in order for all of that to happen, we must engage in conversations about these ideas. Conversations that start with us each sharing our own hopes for the future.


And so that's why I was so disappointed when I heard that our school district is expecting students to spend upwards of 6 hours in front of a screen, mimicking the traditional school day virtually. That is not adaptation. That is perpetuating the status quo and setting our kids up to fail at truly grasping the point of education, which is to learn how to learn.


Of course, I was curious to learn more about this decision and asked - Why? Why are our teachers being expected to show up in this way? And the answer was simple, our schools and teachers need to show that they're doing enough out of fear that funding for education will be cut. 


We are trivializing our children's educational experience in order to perpetuate a norm that no longer fits our needs out of fear of retribution.

Meanwhile, the survival of organizations and businesses (poignantly noticeable in this environment) is directly related to their abilities to adapt. Or more specifically, the leaders and teams that are capable of adapting to the changing landscape of our marketplace are the ones that will withstand the challenges of this time. 


So, why would we expect any less of our children's education?

I have spoken out before about re-imagining the classroom and education. I see the struggles that businesses are facing because the majority of our children are not receiving an education that empowers them to think critically, to educate themselves or to work together collaboratively to solve complex problems.


We don't need to double down on a system that isn't working. 


Of course, I have some of my own ideas for how I think that we should adapt our children's education at this time. For me, it's about letting go of this need to have the school day broken into learning one subject at a time. Instead, I would like my daughter's class to engage in enriching experiences and hands-on activities that enable her to learn math, writing, reading, and science simultaneously by pursuing an idea, line of inquiry or challenge. 


Sure, video interaction and instruction are important at this time. But compartmentalizing her day into discrete subject matter areas and forcing her to sit in front of a screen for school is not going to result in her learning the skills she needs to thrive in the world. 


As leaders, we need to give voice to our hopes and aspirations for thriving during COVID-19. We must look critically at the way things have been done and improve the systems, processes, and structures we are working within. We must reimagine what it means to work, to educate, to thrive, and let go of the comfort of limiting beliefs in order to rise above.

And as we give voice to our hopes and aspirations we must engage in conversations with others, to be open, to listen, and to explore what actions need to be taken to make progress. In order for us to adapt and thrive during this crisis, we must work together to co-create solutions that collectively elevate us.

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