The act of writing is not often that smooth. Sometimes you don’t have much to say, sometimes you don’t have much time, but it may also happen that even if you don’t have much to say or much time, you feel compelled to write few lines, as now. Nothing exceptional , nothing new, just the necessity of setting few things right. The origin of this disquisition has come from the perusal of some papers that my students wrote for the secondary high school examination on the theme of “progress”. The following statement caught my full attention :
“ … this is what we have experienced just this year, in our own flesh, with the pandemic:
despite the new technologies, the school was not fully prepared
to change the teaching system…”
Whoever reads my posts may ask: “well, what’s wrong with this? Isn’t it exactly what you keep on saying?” True, but it has been claimed by somebody else. I mean, I may say, for example, that a type of skirt does not look good on me because of my large hips and I am fine with it , but if anybody else asserts that I have large hips, well, it is annoying. Hence, reading my same thoughts from the “pen” of one of my students, I have to confess , bothered me a little. The point is that I know that with “ in our own flesh “he meant , actually, the students’ flesh only and by using that expression he had justified the lack of attention, involvement and results of an entire school year. You did all this “ in our own flesh” and you are to be blamed for this. I/we are justified. That’s all.
Well, that is not all. Actually, his words made me ponder about the contribution these teenagers gave to endure these exceptional times in terms of ideas, cooperation, innovation; they are young , after all, and should able to infuse the “system” with new ideas, but I could find…..none. They have played or have been made play the role of the victims (“in our own flesh”, in fact), therefore justifying their apathy. I firmly believe, now that my student makes me think of it , that if I should choose a word to define their generational attitude, that word would be: reactionaries.
Since the very start of this pandemic, with hundreds of dead every day , they have kept waving the “ school only in presence” flag, without caring much of the virus diffusion . Nothing was to be changed. They claimed that the process of learning had to be empathic and it could happen only if you had their schoolmates around , and this is one of the reasons why, there will be a remote secondary-school graduation examination tomorrow for many, as entire classes and teachers have been recently infected by too much empathy.
As for technology, I have already written that this generation is less technological than what we may suspect, unless we believe sharing videos, photos and liking a picture to be a technological skill. The majority of them has no clue of how to download, save, rename and upload a file and has found tremendously hard to learn it. Furthermore, if it is true that the remote teaching effort has often been a mechanical pouring of the same things done in the classroom through a video , it is also true that the students have made any development in teaching , learning and even in empathy, as I believe that even in a remote class there is room for empathy, very difficult . More or less these were the main activities in which they were mostly involved:
- DISTURBING: sound effect , freeze effect
- PRETENDING (1) disconnection and audio problems when necessary;
- COPYING entire pages from most common websites, as if they were not accessible to teachers, who have actually learnt the great power of “copy “and “paste” commands to find the original source.
- PRETENDING (2) to answer questions, while actually reading something on video (easily detected as their face all of a sudden seemed like being affected by paralysis, while the eyes move sideways. You may even hear the gentle clicking of the mouse, if a change of page is needed sometimes).
- DENYING whatever has been written above.
Therefore, we have, actually, experienced the very same old pattern of teacher/students relationship, that is, the mice which attempt to fool the cat, remote style of course. I have no other significant contribution to the learning cause to record. Many generations of adolescents have experienced tragedies “ in their own flesh”, worse than this one, that’s part of life.
1300s: I’m dying from the Black Plague
1800s: I’m 9 & work in a coal mine
1900s: I’m off to fight in a war
2020s: Remote teaching and the pandemic are robbing me of my youth (source Twitter)