Students don't need to be "fixed," they are not broken


Advice from a teacher, via Diane Ravitch:

Resist the pressure from whatever ‘powers that be’ who are in a hurry to “fix” kids and make up for the “lost” time. The time was not lost, it was invested in surviving an historic period of time in their lives—in our lives. The children do not need to be fixed. They are not broken. They need to be heard. They need be given as many tools as we can provide to nurture resilience and help them adjust to a post pandemic world.

I'm not an educator, but I know several people reading this are, and we'd love to hear from you. Of course students have "gotten behind" during the quarantine lockdown, and of course online learning falls short of in-person school attendance. But a lot of kids were already behind before Coronavirus came to town, especially in reading comprehension, which is a major gateway to other learning, even STEM. But while this pandemic has surely exacerbated problems that already existed, "catching them up" may also exacerbate those problems, making that climb even harder. Here's more to consider:

I sincerely plead with my colleagues, to surrender the artificial constructs that measure achievement and greet the children where they are, not where we think they “should be.” Greet them with art supplies and writing materials, and music and dance and so many other avenues to help them express what has happened to them in their lives during this horrific year. Greet them with stories and books that will help them make sense of an upside-down world. They missed you. They did not miss the test prep. They did not miss the worksheets. They did not miss the reading groups. They did not miss the homework. They missed you.

I would add one thing: Take them to the library. That goes for school or public libraries. Let them choose which books they want to read, without pushing them into the classics or a "recommended" list. Reading for pleasure is reading, period. Their vocabulary will expand (context is a fantastic teacher), they will become more and more comfortable with the written word, and in the process, they will better absorb written instruction in the sciences.