What do you think of Kenya and their solution to cancel K-12 school for the 2020-2021 school year?
For the U.S. this is a hypothetical question since cancelling K-12 school will never happen. I suspect the main reason would be monetary loss.
I asked this question and received 85 responses/replies from parents and teachers. Many people went off topic, but in general, insights can be gained on how people are thinking about education and parenting during this pandemic.
The numbers (1, 2, bullet points) are summaries of what people said. The comments in red are from me. Stay with me. It’s a long post.
SCHOOL SHOULD NOT BE CANCELLED
- Children will suffer if they’re not in public or private school.
- Students who are mentally disabled or on drugs need school.
- Students who have no access to nutritious food will suffer.
- Students, torn away from peer relationships, are suffering.
- Pods or homeschooling are not options for single parents.
- Kids will be left home alone if parents have to go out to work
- What if the parents themselves are on drugs?
- There are parents who do not want to be at home with their kids.
- They don’t want to deal with behavioral issues.
- If parents have little education, children would learn nothing from them.
- Parents shouldn’t NOW be forced to spend time with their children, teach them, and feed them. This is a recipe for disaster. We’ve now created the perfect storm.
Comment: Parents have been raising their own kids for centuries but it seems that today many parents rely on the schools to bring up their kids. In other words, since the 1970s, paid employment is priority, not caregiving. “We” have not created this perfect storm but I agree that we all will have to live differently and adjust to being inconvenienced.
- School is a safe place from abusive homes.
Comment: OK, but school is not always safe. There’s no question that many students become immersed in a drug, sex, alcohol culture because their peers are their primary role models right there in school. Add to this school shootings, child molestation, bullying (which is unbelievable) and suicides.
- Two high school students committed suicide recently and the blame rests on isolation from friends during the pandemic lockdown.
Comment: Life is not perfect. If not a pandemic, we could be experiencing a natural or man-made disaster, or war. Parents are doing their best to help their kids adapt to the situation.
- COVID19 is more dangerous to children socially than physically. They suffer from incredible depression. But sadly, more children will die from COVID.
Comment: There are MANY ways to socialize during COVID (e.g., video chat; co-families that take care to keep safe, pods).
- We should call this “crisis schooling.” In-person or distance learning comes with issues that can’t be fixed. If you choose to put your kid in school, you are putting him and anyone he comes in contact with in physical danger. If you keep him at home, you’re hurting his social/emotional health (say some people). But in-person school isn’t going to be social this year (e.g., no group work, no chatting).
- Closing schools would further economic inequities in this country. Wealthy parents would find a way to continue to school their children. Losing one year could sacrifice the education of a nation.
- The risk of child death from COVID19 is so low, children should be in school. There are always risks in society but we’ve never stopped “living” before. Fear is misplaced.
SCHOOL SHOULD BE CANCELLED
- It’s difficult for parents and students to organize a few months of school-at-home, and even more disruptive to try and switch in mid-year. There’s no guarantee that November or January will be safer. (RN)
- Why not stop putting traditional schooling first and focus more on being human? Breaks of 6 months to a year in schooling would be fantastic.
- There’s a lot of learning to be done outside of school.
Comment: Since the 1970s, when women went to work full-time en masse and were no longer home to train their children, society has pushed parenting onto schools. (Teachers used to just teach academics.) With children home these past months, many parents have used this “pandemic opportunity” to work on family relationships, character training, life skills, and allowing their kids to follow their interests.
- Either schools should open completely or be shut down for the year.
- Children will suffer if they go to school.
- Children cannot be expected to keep socially distanced or wear a mask.
- Being kept at home is better for a child’s mental health than the devastation of dealing with a sibling, parent, or grandparent death. The child in school would be the cause of it, and he/she would know it.
- Parents will notice if their child is depressed or anxious and will get proper care. Kids are often not noticed in school.
- Students can be homeschooled in a more relaxed way during this stressful time. (Don’t do “school-at-home,” however. That means sitting behind a computer screen for six hours a day. Now THAT would affect physical and mental health.)
- Children don’t need to go to a brick and mortar school to survive and thrive.
Comment: Note the success of the homeschool community for decades, particularly in the field of entrepreneurship. Reflect on the “winter boys” of the late 1800s and early 1900s who went to school just during the winter months or the generations who had an 8th grade education. Those people were well-educated.
- The ever present and overblown fear of falling behind is stressing out so many families.
Comment: If there is no formal schooling for a year, children will still learn. They don’t stop. There was an experiment where 8th graders worked on a farm for a year with no formal schooling. Yet, when they went into high school, they kept up with all their classmates.
- There is no better idea out there than keeping our kids alive. Plus, you can teach them things they were supposed to learn when they were little but couldn’t because of three hours of homework each day since kindergarten. This pandemic has led me to choose homeschooling over returning my child to public school.
- This is the best idea ever. This pandemic is unlike anything we’ve seen. Pressure would be off of students and parents and teachers.
- Kenya has a great idea because I’d rather have a safe child than a sick (or dead) child.
- Taking the year off from academics, instead of focusing on how to address inequities…how to make internet something we all have access to…would do far more for our population than struggling to try and keep up with educational standards that are unrealistic and society–driven during normal times. There is no good solution right now…. (LC)
- Parents may have to push for the ideal “60-hour combined” work week in order to nurture their children. (Why should it take two incomes to buy or rent a house?)
Here is a perspective (KE):
One of the main issues complicating the situation is how many of our societal needs have been somehow foisted on the public school system. Child care. Education. Mental health. Meals. Life skills. And all outside the family.
I like focusing on supporting families holistically rather than supporting the children “in spite of” all the families’ needs/limitations. How can we make homeschool and school choice a thing that empowers all families, especially those with more needs? That kind of community seems like one that wouldn’t be floundering so much in the current crisis.
I appreciate hearing the different perspectives and opinions as people address the topic about the possibility of cancelling K-12 school for the year. All ideas are valid.
No, we ALL don’t have the socialization we ALL need.
Note that during disasters and wars, school is closed.
It’s imperative to adapt in order to keep living.