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  • Norma Walton

Online Learning an Oxymoron

Updated: Aug 7, 2021

My children are smart but no one would call them keeners. They like to learn but rather than listen to their teacher, they prefer to play, either online or physically. Their favourite part of school is the social aspect. Needless to say the online model of learning is not working for them. My husband and I view it as a lost year of learning thus far, and we are not out of the woods yet.

Regular school gives my children so much to look forward to. They love to socialize; they look forward to playing school sports; they enjoy certain teachers; and they like learning new things in a classroom environment. When they are at school, they sometimes use their spare time with their friends to tackle homework so they have nothing to bring home whereas other times they play football or tag with friends. We are fortunate that none of our children has ever told us they hated school and refused to go.

Online school is a whole other ball game. Rather than refuse to go, they sign in then tune out. I cannot count the number of times I have come downstairs to see them with their headphones in listening to their teacher while a video game is being played on the screen. This is not an effective method of learning. I fear they are taking in next to nothing of what is being said or taught. The “new normal” is a misnomer…this is nowhere close to normal in either experience or outcome.

It will be interesting to see the impact of interrupted learning on this generation of COVID kids, whether they score lower as a group on IQ or aptitude tests later in life because of the disruption to their learning in their formative years. Face to face interaction with the teacher is critical to my children’s success. Face to face interaction between my children and their classmates is likely just as critical to their success. Both of those components are missing online.

The latest COVID numbers in Ontario are somewhat encouraging and the trend seems to be downward. I can only hope that in-school attendance will return soon. In the meantime, my children are becoming very adept at doing the bare minimum to survive their online school experience while actually learning bupkis.

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