May 12, 2020

Change of Perspective

“I am one of the millions of individuals in this world who thinks, if I get sick with Covid-19, what will it mean for my children, my colleagues, and my community?.”

As we face the current global crisis, the uncanny silence in the beginning, made me realise – How important it is to see the world from multiple perspectives, and I slowly began to grasp the shared and the unequal impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

Within a week to 10 days of the lockdown, I realized Mother Nature’s healing process had already started.Different kinds of birds chirping in the deserted streets of our very own cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.Air pollution levels have reduced drastically, which is a big boon for all the little ones who suffer from respiratory diseases. Suddenly, the snow-clad mountain range of the Himalayas can be seen from Jalandhar.

One of the important lessons to be learnt from this shutdown experience should be to push people to cut travel, meetings, office space and other activities which are now considered routine. In the ‘New Normalcy’, there will at least be clean and fresh air to breathe.

I never realized how much social interaction I experienced at my work place until the end of the first week of lockdown .I was in my house with my family for about a week and at that point, when the announcements started pouring in that all schools and colleges will be closed and online classes will be the practice. I wasn’t exactly excited for the zoom lectures.

As it turned out, even normal conversations with your colleagues and team would be through zoom, I desperately needed now to know more. I started attending webinars and various conversations. Opinions flew left and right, and I relished in the opportunity to hear out different opinions. I didn’t even realize how isolated I was feeling until I was able to talk to other educators in a creative and intellectual setting, many of them for the first time.

I could see this is an opportunity for the education sector to unite, forge connections across countries and continents, and truly share what works in a global way. I don’t think, prior to this crisis, that we’ve been able to do this, and we will miss a big opportunity if we don’t try to do that now.We would be remiss if we didn’t take away a greater sense of empathy for each other—the idea that we can work through anything together—from this crisis.

Also, many of the parents understand more than ever now that schools aren’t just buildings where students go and learn, and that teachers are irreplaceable. Having that face – to – face connection is magical with the young children – and that’s very hard to replicate in a distance learning environment. I am glad that our teachers and schools will receive more respect, appreciation, and support for their important role in society.

So, the process of creating a better learning system has begun. I and my team know blended learning can draw on the best of both the worlds. We have started thinking aloud about re-balancing the mix between face – to – face and online. This requires lot of innovation and experimentation with the online tools available and who knows some day we will have an online pedagogy as a result of all this. That’s really exciting!

On the home front, the COVID-19 pandemic is a “lesson in responsibility” being taught to my 2 young daughters, Tripti aged 22 and Srishti aged 17 years.

Drawing upon the Indian culture of treating the entire world as one big family or VasudhaivaKutumbakam. My girls have realized, whether we like it or not, we have been born on this earth as part of one great family.And, out of this comes a genuine sense of universal responsibility, to actively help others overcome their problems just like our Covid Warriors out there and we as a family salute them with heartfelt gratitude.

For this age group socialization and connection with peers is especially important, hence as parents, we have relaxed some of our restrictions on social media use. They have explored new apps and tools that can facilitate group chats and video connection so they can stay connected to their peers and family. These include House Party, Google Meet, Facetime and Skype. We respect their privacy and alone time while still having them respect the needs of the family as a whole.

As a family, we have been able to maintain healthy habits and establish a new routine, including eating a healthy diet, engaging in daily physical activity and getting adequate sleep. While some modification in their sleep schedule has been OK, my husband, Mr. Vittal and I have tried hard to negotiate a reasonable sleep schedule and stick to it, thereby avoiding sleeping too much.

The girls seem to have established a routine for themselves, whether it is being part of an online course from the University of London, writing a blog on travel or finishing their assignments. They have also been a big support with all the household chores, right from sweeping to washing, since the house help is not around. This is also a wonderful skill that they have developed and one that can benefit them in the future.
I strongly believe, Life is a journey with problems to solve, lessons to learn and most of all experiences to enjoy!! This lockdown has added to my beautiful memories as a Mother, as an Educator and as a good Covid-19 Citizen.

I hope and pray that in the days ahead, each of us will do all we can to create a happier and healthier world.

 

Mrs Preeti Bhandary, Curriculum Director, Little Elly Preschools

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