• jon

    Posted 732 days ago

  • The premise of Christakis's article is that our current eductional system has a lot of defficiencies that are becoming more apparent during the current crisis. Given that parents are now more aware of what's going on, we can come out of the crisis with some good plans for reform. This well-to-do optimism shows her passion for education, but what I think is unrealistic. Focusing on goals such as "imporving mental-health" is important certainly, but in a time that is so tumultuous, the focus should not be on mental-health metrics but more on how the educational system can level the playing field for kids coming from difficult circumstances to give everybody the chance to learn and grow.

    Christakis acknowledges this towards the beginning of the article, citing a study:

    A McKinsey analysis concluded that if remote learning continues into 2021, students will suffer an average of seven months of "learning loss" - in essense, they'll be seven months behind in mastering certain concepts and skills. Latino and Black students will fall a little further behind, McKinsey found, and low-income students will lose more than a year.

    But simply acknowledging this, should not allow the writer to skip onto something else and leave it behind - which is my interpretation here. She says yes, yes, these are serious things that we should consider, but look at this group of kids (certainly from well-off circumstances) that actually have improved mental health and improved learning. Of course this is true, they are probably in their nice houses in nice neighborhoods or parts of the city or towns with support groups and money, money, money.

    For all its challenges, the pandemic presents an opportunity to rethink school entirely. What should we be demanding?

    What is this? A conference for the new iPhone and how it "rethinks" itself every year? We should not be basing our reasoning on how a group of well-off kids are doing at home. Public education is an institution that must help to right the wrongs that our past selves have done, not take bits and pieces of parts of the society that already have priviledge and try to model that, which is utterly impossible given the current public resources.

    What if we give every kid in kindergarten through sixth grade in America the option to spend the academic year engaged primarily outdoors in a kind of "pandemic camp" instead of traditional school?

    And they can all sing kumbaya and learn how to weave baskets from straw. This is not the agenda of any working-class person. They want their children to learn essential skills that they need to compete for crucial scholarships and aid later in their lives. Christakis says that the competition is the problem, but of course it is in a society that rewards only the best of the poor with help later on. If they don't learn those hard skills, get good SAT scores, they won't receive those scholarships that will actually change their lives later on. I was dissapointed with this article. I understand the viewpoint and what she is trying to get across, but I do not agree with it at all.

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