Disengaged and floundering, high school students are finding it increasingly difficult to adapt and thrive with the new standards of distance education. While the academic structure looks to be changing for an extended period, the students who come out as products serve as lab rats in the experiment of finding the right balance in a new system.
At the onset of coronavirus, teachers and students had to adjust to the new ways of online learning. While Zoom allowed students and teachers to continue the school year and curriculum, there is a certain dehumanizing aspect to it.
As a student, there has to be a certain amount of social interaction to keep you motivated and perhaps a bit scared. Take the process of handing in a paper for example. In a physical classroom, the idea of being the only one without a paper and confronting the teacher empty-handed is usually enough motivation to pump out at least a half-decent essay. Then follows the rewarding feeling of relief when the paper you have laboriously worked on falls into the hands of your teacher, who smiles with satisfaction as to say “well done.” With online learning, you take that entire sequence out of the picture. You turn your paper into Google Classroom, and the only satisfaction you get is the click of the mouse and a “turned in” alert from your computer. Lack of motivation affected all students alike, but there was also a looming feeling of uncertainty for juniors and seniors.
Not knowing what the future could hold, high school juniors and seniors still had to work towards the prospect of college and professional careers. In preparation for the years many people consider to be the most exciting of their lives, upperclassmen had to face the bells of closed test sites. The memories that all high school graduates cherish, such as senior prom and graduation were taken away. Did they go through three or four years of high school only to experience more distance learning at their dream college?
Perhaps with time, the effectiveness of distance education could improve, and prove to be successful. It is hard to know when things will go back to normal, or even what the new normal will look like. For now, the change remains very much, a lab experiment.
Jasper Schroen is a senior at El Molino High School. He’s the president of El Molino’s journalism club.