I made a change to the blog heading this week by removing the week number in the title. My good friend and advisor, Ellen, told me last week that seeing the week number in this blog headline was getting depressing. When she sees it, she starts thinking about when it will be week 52.
This past week and next week mark the beginning of school in many places. For many of us, it will be completely virtual. You might recall that in the spring, virtual school had a lot of challenges. At the time, we all hoped and assumed that we would have Covid under control by the end of summer so that the kids would be back in school for the fall and life would be somewhat back to normal. However, the virus rages on with parents, kids and teachers having to deal with all the normal anxieties of the start of the new school year along with the added anxiety of how to cope in a virtual environment.
My boys are in the Arlington public school system and the spring transition to virtual learning was difficult. With a large student population and disparities in access to technology, there was concern about leaving students behind and the administrators decided not to teach new material and locked grades with only limited ability to improve. You can imagine how my boys reacted when they learned that they would not learn anything, and it would not count. Needless to say, there was a lack of enthusiasm for attending virtual school.
In Arlington this fall, they are keeping the school day just as it is for regular school, which means my boys will be in “class” for 6 hours a day. I imagine that many of you have been on long Zoom type calls. I know that my level of attention starts to decline in about the 3rd hour of video calls in a day so I wonder how effective this will be for the students and how difficult it must be for the teachers. As I have learned from my Zoom calls, it is hard to hold anyone’s attention for that long.
My point of this blog was to talk about the stress that children, parents and teachers feel this fall. While it wasn’t my intention, I feel like I have stressed myself out in writing this, and I hope that I have not increased your stress levels. I think it is important for all of us, those with school aged children and those without school aged children, to simply recognize that everyone is under a lot of stress and that we need to try to be more patient.
Even with the extra months of preparation, at some point, it may not be enough to overcome 7 hours of virtual learning for kids or days of virtual living for adults. I think the lesson may be that we may never be fully prepared, there will always be challenges and this situation has resulted in many cumulative stresses that we cannot always control. Maybe we need to accept that this added stress is with us for a while and try to focus on what we can control – our attitudes. I suggest that we approach all people, whether kind or inconsiderate, caring or impolite, with the benefit of the doubt that we are all simply stressed out after six months of living in a situation that none of us expected or wanted. That way, we can then treat each other with compassion and empathy as opposed to indifference or anger. Also, we should be grateful for all the teachers in our lives.
This week’s selection is:
The China Hustle
Streaming on Netflix, this documentary is the story of a massive fraud that was perpetrated on American investment markets after the 2008 economic meltdown. Lack of oversight, combined with the seductive allure of China with its trove of "ripe" investment opportunities, resulted in billions of dollars spent on entities that were totally misrepresented. Greed and indifference played important roles. Filmmaker Jed Rothstein exposes the scam with the assist of savvy investors who themselves made a killing in the downturn.