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By Jazz Victoria Griffiths, Grade 8 18-Jun-20
A few months ago, had I been offered the opportunity to alter what was then my current learning routine and shift to a remote learning modality, it’s safe to say that I would have been eagerly awaiting the debut. The sheer image of a quaint and self-structured school day was more than appealing to me, and to be frank, that outlook hasn’t necessarily changed. Although, what I did fail to comprehend were the struggles that would accompany this bizarre experience.
First off, the transition from social schooling to isolated schooling was a dramatic one. The premier was but a day after our city had received the news, leaving minimal time for planning and preparation. This also meant no adjustment period for students, so Day One prompted a frenzy of utter confusion and rapid-fire questions, many of which were unanswerable.
Teachers and students faced puzzles; solving them was a strenuous process. As time progressed, however, technical queries were fewer and we grew more accustomed to the routine. Sources of uncertainty—locating the class calls, for example, or determining what was expected of us in class on any given day—dwindled as we got used to the new program.
Without a doubt, this remote learning experience has brought both positives and negatives. At times I’ve been tearing out my hair, whereas at other moments I’m basking in a state of Zen that I’d never possessed while engaged in standard schooling. The latter is a result of what being in my own home has done for me. The incessant concern about my appearance during the day is simply no longer there, allowing me to engage fully in my classes, rather than fret over how I present myself to my peers. This, along with the snug and folksy surroundings that embrace me each day, have led to lower levels of stress and a far more peaceful mind.
Of course, stress reduction has come from other aspects of this new learning platform as well. Due to early dismissal, time-crunch has ceased to exist. Tension that had formerly hinged on due dates is no longer looming, thus students have the ability to perform their best on each required assignment. My head is clear of all the work that used to swarm there now that I have added hours to devote to my duties; these, thanks to remote learning, are fewer than before. What’s more, teachers’ attitudes are far more lenient, and therefore the unnecessary pressures I once felt as a student are waning by the day.
In contrast, there are some rather unfortunate consequences that have come from this new normal. For example, I’ve found that due to later starts, my sleep schedule has changed, as it has for dozens of my peers. I’ve developed a habit of going to bed later, since there’s no urgency to rise any earlier than ten minutes prior to my first period. Sadly, for many this isn’t simply a shifting of our sleeping patterns, but more of a reduction in sleep overall.
An additional question has struck the minds of many of my peers. Aren’t we taking classes for half the time that was originally allocated and thus acquiring only half the information anticipated when we entered this semester? The short answer is yes. Thankfully, these truncated classes do provide students with extra time to pursue new interests and invest in personal projects and hobbies.
All things considered, this is a newfound privilege afforded to us by this novel state of schooling. It has allowed us to devise our own daily schedules and routines, which I have found makes this a far more enjoyable experience.
The only issue that truly seems insurmountable is the lack of face-to-face social interaction with my teachers and peers. It’s an interminable struggle to have to refrain from engaging with my peers, whom I’m so accustomed to conversing with every day. It’s something that I truly miss. If face-to-face social interaction were to be added to the equation once again, I could say with one-hundred percent certainty that I’ve never enjoyed schooling so much. Learning remotely has been an interesting experience indeed.
Jazz Victoria Griffiths is a Grade 8 student who attends the American Community School of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and who has a passion for reading and writing.
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