How Will Our Children Learn Now?

by Emma O. Gutierrez, Founder and Center Director

The delivery system of news and entertainment has changed in the last years. Newspapers and television are on their way out and even movie houses have been replaced with home theatre or even a small screen as small as a smartphone.

Things are changing but it is difficult to adjust the psychological conditioning of a physical school in a snap because this takes time to unlearn.

Covid19 came and will stay – for a while. Even with the vaccine, I think it will stay, that is why we need to be immunized.

So physical classrooms are out. Enter Virtual classrooms. Online learning. Homeschooling.

Here are some ways children can learn:

1. Unschooling: We sometimes forget that children can also not be schooled. Just let them free to find what interests them. It may actually work given the right and fertile environment and a guru. Parents can talk about their work, while children breathe legal or medical or political, business, art, or new world vocabulary and experiences.

2. Homeschooling: The classroom is now the home, a good homeschool program is a source, the teacher is one or both parents, and co-parents supporting each other. Very much the ideal community. No traffic. Full home control. Parents who are prepared to homeschool will not think twice because they know they have the creativity to make lessons palatable. Patience and diligence are their virtues and qualifications.

3. Wildschooling: If we live near the sea, a river, or a farm in a rural area, the magic is part of learning. Children swim in the beach, discover other living things like they discover new friends, navigate and learn using their senses, be keenly observant, and learn in a highly stimulating classroom called Nature. But if you think your child will grow up someday and have a job, then you will need a tablet to augment what is not in the wind or the forest and sea. I would love this romantic setting for learning and at the same time be globally updated, while enjoying the perks of being outside the classroom.

4. There is smart blended learning. It is very much like making a mango shake. Blending ingredients for a delicious smoothie making one happy especially during the hot covid19 summer months.

This is a formulation of online learning, home study, or in other words combined physical appearances and disappearances when one has to do learning online. My own interpretation and version by the way.

5. Pure online. Now parents are afraid of the tablet and what it will do to their children. Long screen exposure, etc. was not a problem for them before. It was the teachers and guidance counselors’ concern! It was the panacea to noisy and unruly behavior at home, a pill for parents who are busy, a solution to a “no maid, no Yaya” problem. And now some parents say that it is a problem? It is now and has become a crucial delivery system. And I heard it is done from 9-11 straight!! I can't even imagine how it is done in 60 minutes straight while I consider the golden hour within the first 15 minutes only!

6. “Granny Cloud” schooling. I am borrowing the term from Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the wall – a self-organized learning environment (SOLE). It believes in the role concept of a grandmother providing learning experiences and guidance where children are engaged in conversations, storytelling, craft, puzzles, and questions that provoke thinking while “warm encouragement” is provided.

Grandparents who raise their children’s children were unsung “frontliners” in Filipino homes long before the pandemic. They have their own approach. I have made friends with a lot of them while I manned the school. They teach good values if they are not the indulgent and kunsintidor type, they can love as much as their hearts can give. Theirs is beyond homeschooling, a bit of wild and unschooling, blended, hybrid all in one.

We are not just reshaping. We are growing virtual arms. Extending our arm instinctively to hold a child (I was so touched as I listened to my teachers tell their online schooling stories) while doing an online class to young children who run around while the parents, lola, lolo, Yaya helplessly watch.

We try to discover ways to be more effective, to hold the very fleeting attention of a child. But come to think of it, it is the same concern even in a face to face set up, and the same concern for all students, young and old. Except that the parents witness this now.

I salute all the schools and the teachers who have bitten and chewed the changes bravely. Like a chef, we try to discover the best combination of flavors and textures. We are like scientists who are trying to find the best way to treat learning at home, on screen, in homes where parents are challenged, or where there’s lack of provision, no tablets or computers, no internet connection, no clear future for at least a year. We are engineers and re-engineering at the moment.

I hope that our problem is just money and not our attitude.

Disclaimer: the opinion, definitions, observations are purely homegrown except for the ed program called A Hole in the Cloud. I am coming from old tribes and lines of my ancestors seeing myself sitting in a circle of the aged and the “ wise” smoking an enlightenment pipe. Hahahaha!!