The Remote Learning Experiment Begins

I work online, I work to make the very tools my kids and yours will use as remote learning begins. I am terrified.

School starts here in two days. The fourteen day rate of infection in our county stands at 24.69%, three times more than state of California’s rate. The school meetings, held on your Zoom’s and YouTube streams of the world, distribute lackluster information and showcase poor leadership and vision. Most meetings are a insight into the community at large; some wear masks while others remove them to speak in the small enclosed room the board members sit in. Some parents are concerned; the majority shout about the great pandemic hoax and how the schools must open.

The schools aren’t opening, much to my relief. The remote learning experiment begins. My kids are not thrilled.

“I don’t want to be sad like you Dad.”

My kids, like your kids, are receptive even when you think they’re not paying attention. A summer of watching me work from the corner of the bedroom, the deluge of video conference calls that span hour after hour, left them under the impression that it’s a miserable existence to work online through video calls.

They are not wrong. I was on a conference call for five hours last week. There is not a good outcome from a five hour video phone call. Apparently I had no poker face about how generally depressing it was. Who can? You don’t have a soul after that and you will question your life choices.

What no one tells you, is your kids were question your life choices.

“Two degrees and a long career and now you sit on these calls that mean nothing?” the oldest asked. “You gotta be thinking about that, does that keep you up at night?”

Teenagers. Expert surgeons of dissecting life.

My concern however spans the gamut of remote learning. The school districts appear lost, teachers are being thrown to the wolves. For all the so-called advanced technology we all have with the phones and social networks we’re addicted to, no one has a handle on the basics of working remotely. Corporate workforces can barely handle it (see above five hour “great idea” of a meeting noted above).

None of it is intuitive and the ideas for teaching in this hostile environment are lacking. It’ll take more than video calls and assignment boards. I’m hoping we can come together as parents, teachers, school administrations.

My kids are on the fence.

“I can just watch YouTube science videos. Can’t I do that?”

“Do I have to be on the video call? I’d rather just sit and do math.”

These two statements on the surface sound amazing, but they are troubling clouds on a distant horizon. When you have twins who have autism, the I-want-hide-away is a real problem, because they’d rather just not deal with the troublesome waste of their time. They didn’t care for school in the first place and now the idea of being on camera is further outside their comfort zone.

Crackling sound? Reverb audio because people don’t understand their mic setup? The interruptions? The hours after hour? The whole remote learning is going to be a straight up battle. Monica and I know it. I feel vastly unprepared for their unhappiness.

Months of quarantine. Months of potential planning. All of which tossed out the window. Remote learning: we’re doing this. Let’s go.