Pros and Cons of Remote Learning

If one was to jump to judgement on remote learning it would be easy to find a strong argument for or against the new norm. Unfortunately none of us were given the opportunity to make an argument for or against. We had no option. Starting last March everybody was forced to adapt to 100 percent remote learning. As a result of having survived more than six months of remote learning, we are now truly able to make an honest assessment of its pros and cons.

I think everybody can agree that waking up for 10 am class last year was pretty nice, and even this school year the 8:30 am start is better. Not only is there a later start, but there is also no commute needed. The only thing you need to do before “school” is to travel from your bed to your at-home workspace.

Cafeteria dining in school and or packed lunches do not compare to the freedom of choice while opening your refrigerator or cabinets right in your own kitchen. The quality time with your family and pets are also an added bonus. We used to be rushing in the crowded hallways of VHS from class to class, but now we have the luxury of doing whatever we want for five minutes in between classes. This can be scrolling through TikTok, taking your dog for a walk, or going to grab a quick snack.

Watching our parents adapt to their at home workspace has been an added advantage as well. Together, the whole family has made adjustments to work styles and situations none of us could have imagined. Everybody was forced to adjust together and make accommodations which ultimately strengthened relationships and increased respect for one another. The decrease in extra curricular activities initially seemed that it would increase anxiety and stress and affect the friendships among peers. However, the increased access and availability to social media maintained those relationships, while the “increase at home physical presence” increased familial relationships. What seemed like it was going to be unbearable, turned out to be a silver lining amidst a storm. 

After reflecting on all of the positives listed above, one would think there would be nothing wrong with this new form of life, however there are equally as many negatives. One of the major negatives that have affected many people is the social isolation.  One CDC study showed that out of 5,470 people, 41 percent have felt some sort of symptom that is related to anxiety or depression disorder. The negative effects of anxiety and depression are yet to be fully recognized. Everybody says that high school is the best four years of your life, but for current high schoolers all of those spotlighted experiences have either been dramatically altered or completely eliminated.  No prom last May, spring sports being cut short, not a normal graduation, limited attendance at Friday night football games, and fall sports making special accommodations are all examples of this.

Before the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics had always recommended limiting screen time and increasing physical and recreational outdoor activities. Remote learning necessitates in excess of six or eight hours a day, and limits the opportunity for children to be physically active and be outdoors. The societal cost that schools and taxpayers had to pay for access to technology for all students has been ridiculously high and a huge issue. Readily available wifi and hardware technology is not something that all Americans have access to. Schools were required to provide access to these things, in order for their students to be able to learn during these difficult times. Schools are providing so much for their students, and yet those students may be benefiting less in the academic arena. The ability to raise one’s hand during class, or just stay for a minute after the bell rings is not available during these times. To get extra help an email or communication is required meaning one may just try and figure it out themselves. Communication via electronic means is not as personal as one on one interaction in the classroom. By nature, humans are interpersonal beings and the results of social isolation has left us needing to make accommodations that we do not know the long term effects of.

In every situation bad things come out of the good things, and good things come out of the bad things. Like it or not, remote school is the result of a common goal to protect the health and well-being of our society at large. With the hope of a vaccine on the horizon and improved therapeutics, COVID-19 will be under control. People can make a choice to focus on the positives that come out of this situation, or keep lingering on the negatives