My Daughter's First Day Of Not Going To School
School is a screen for children like mine. For others it's a wall
My daughter started school today, in the TV room. The dog was there, trying to eat her crayons. I was there, fending off the dog and working the mute button. When a pandemic goes endemic, this is what academics looks like. A five-year-old spends her first day of school not going to school at all.
It's bad... but it's not all bad. It's definitely not good.
The bad is that virtual school is not school. You can't just drop the kids off and trust that they'll take it from there. They can't just sit down, listen, and get herded to the next class. These operations are all buttons now, which a small child cannot operate.
Virtual school is not especially virtual either. Theoretically the whole thing could be a video game, you could have class in Fortnite, but instead we're using boring-ass office meeting software. It's all work and no play.
The result is the worst of both worlds, an experience which is neither a good simulation nor an escape. It's neither here nor there. The child is in the TV room without watching TV. They're in the classroom without being in class. It's hard.
It's also hard on the parents. One of Luna's classmates was calling in from a car. All the parents have three different logins. We have to be muting, unmuting, holding up work to a screen. The child suddenly needs their own computer (or smartphone) for at least half a day. And that's per child. This all costs money. This all takes time. Many families are just left behind.
It's also hard on the teachers, and the entire school. Beyond trying to keep the attention of children, they suddenly have to work with all of this new infrastructure they don't understand. They have to figure out (and pay for) Microsoft Teams and Zoom and are suddenly responsible for tech support. Many schools simply do no have this capacity. So entire schools are left behind as well.
It's bad. But it's not all bad.
Not All Bad
If you think of school as preparation for work (which it shouldn't be) this new experience is actually quite relevant. Luna is on Microsoft Teams now, learning the same technology as many corporations. Her account is right next to the one I use for board meetings. Computer skills is not a separate class anymore. It is the classroom.