Education, or Learning?
I am agnostic about the value of education. Maybe based on my own average experience, where in retrospect, I am uncertain why I did any of it. As Godin presciently commented recently,
“The degree is what’s on offer, not fundamental change.”
I had expected to have much commentary to add about the kids’ home / Zoom schooling experiences. As events unfolded, barely any, which is probably a good thing. Some basic observations:
- The kids can solve many of their own tech challenges, though there is an instinct to demand attention by shouting “It’s broken! / powered down! HELP!”
- Zoom school demands more of them to orchestrate their days. For the tween, excellent. Some self control opportunity. For the younger, a bit of overwhelm.
- As a parent, total recall that 95% of what you learn at school is completely unimportant to living a life. If a child doesn’t want to complete the task, copy the text – who cares, explicitly? Why sweat it, as a student, as a teacher-parent. There are bigger opportunities of focus.
Having a twelve year old, and a surefooted one at that, is a real blessing. “Don’t shout at me!” when I whisper to do something. “I’m coming!” for dinner and emerging several minutes later when everyone else has finished dinner. A complete absence of listening skills when an idea is posed to her.
Of course, I was nothing like that.
Luckily, we managed to rearrange our living quarters to give her her own room just before lockdown. It might have saved the siblings, and perhaps the entire household, from annihilation.
Twenty years ago I lived in the West End of Vancouver overlooking another rental condo unit. I worked at home making websites in front of a computer all day; and watched the units opposite me go about their days.
I was always fascinated by the act of cohabitation in space: someone sitting at their kitchen table drinking coffee, and unbeknownst to them, someone standing right below them on the phone. One side of a wall a woman lying on her sofa eating crisps from a bag; the other side of the wall, an old couple reading the paper together at the dining table. I imagined their lives and conversations. I never knew any of them.
COVID-times has made me notice more the people in the rental building opposite. Every day at 7pm, we come out and clap and bang pots; we wave at each other. I notice them for the first time. The young family; the woman who always faces us and not the hospital that is kitty corner; the couple with the mid-century modern aesthetic. There is always high turn over in the building, but suddenly we are a community.
Another memory from 20 years ago. I used to run a Bad Art event in our apartment. A couple of beers, a shared art undertaking, and no concern as to the quality of the work. A liberating adult creative experience. I dug out some previous art projects I did with the kids when they were little – usually as a present for Lori. I have repurposed a couple of them for pandemic commentary. I made some origami masks. Not just Bad Art, but useless too, and all the more liberating for it.
This Much We Know.