By Tara Hebbar
Covid-19 has had a large and lasting impact on every walk of life. Though we are lucky enough to be able to continue to learn and grow every day, some have no access to school in such unpredictable and unprecedented times. We use technology not only for our online learning curriculum but also for our schooling in more regular and normal circumstances hence making our transition to online school a quick, smooth, and efficient one. What we need to realize is that we need to count our blessings because not everyone has the same privileges as we do. In this article, I will be outlining the similarities and mainly differences — and comparing the IB and State boards — in how the pandemic has affected the education of their students respectively.
Let’s start with the International Baccalaureate (IB) learning system. As I had stated above, it is already designed in a way that makes the shift to online school, not a colossal task. Nevertheless, teachers and school administrators have had to work tirelessly to design a comprehensive and collaborative classroom so that students can learn and grow even through a screen. Classrooms in these systems have been optimized in such a way that even a subject as practical as math can be taught over a google meet or zoom call. With this setup, not only are students gaining knowledge, but they are also developing new skills and adjusting to change because of the challenges this lockdown and pandemic have brought to us.
In Ascend International School, teachers have discovered new sites that are so engaging that they might be used even when things do return to their usual ways such as Padlet, MURAL, and several others. Our students have adapted to this way of learning so well that apart from the social interactions in school, we aren’t missing much. If we go to the further critique of this system, of course, many problems can be found, but as we complain about things such as “too much screen time” or “too much homework”, there are people who are dying to get their promised education but can’t afford it.
These people may go to school but as this pandemic continues to wreak havoc, many of their parents are not only losing their jobs but their entire livelihoods. Moreover, with school shifting online, they cannot afford a device to have their kids continue learning in times like this. Though governments and schools respectively are trying their best to lessen the load by introducing systems such as one that breaks school into two parts, with students having the option to attend either one so that siblings can share the same device. Even with all this, many people cannot attend school. Needless to say, there is also a bright side to this story, where there are tons of people and organizations that are supplying people with electronics, and even sponsoring entire educations.
Another aspect is the exam factor, while we base the bulk of our grade on summatives, State board schools and government schools base theirs out of exams, without which the distinction between a person passing or failing a grade is lost. Though many schools have introduced exams using tools such as forms, it is near impossible for all of them to achieve this, especially if students aren’t unable to gain access to an electronic device. Another problem that students are taught using textbooks that are grade specific and not always available online, without which learning for them is extremely difficult and inconvenient. In the early stages of the lockdown where everything was closed on a mandatory basis, these textbooks were not available to those who were in desperate need of them, making it harder to teach and learn. Another difficulty is the sheer number of students per class, in government schools, there are a large number of students in each class. It is already a burden for the teachers to control classes when they are in the school building but making sure so many students are muted, understanding, have their videos on, is a tremendously large task for teachers and doesn’t provide an environment for students to learn.
Instead of complaining about what we have, we cherish it and be grateful for where we stand and everything that we have access too. While kids aren’t able to go to school, we can have clubs, classes, and even sports right in the safety of our homes. We should also use this privilege as a means to help those who aren’t as fortunate as we are. There are multiple ways, from giving the people around you, who are facing this problem a laptop, to fundraising or donating to organizations. The COVID – 19 pandemic has already handed these people so many problems and if anything made people like me realize how thankful we should be. As every profession contributes to helping our world fight this battle, we as students and people who receive a great education should also be playing our part by helping those who don’t.