The Educational Lockdown

Let’s start by taking a moment to stop and think about the situation that is happening right in front of us. It’s no secret that the world has come to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic and most of the people are suffering from a lack of routine. Usually, the working population comes to the mind when we start thinking about this. There is another set of people for whom this period is extremely crucial and may leave an indelible impression on them if not correctly directed. I am talking about our children.  According to the latest figures released by UNESCO, some 1.3 billion learners around the world were not able to attend school or university as of March 23, 2020 [1]. Students think this is some prolonged vacation and a blessing in disguise but the reality is far harsher.

First of all, the education system is generally very mechanical throughout most of the school life. The students are chiefly interested in passing the exams and as a result the input and the real output becomes hugely disproportionate. This is surely an effective way to assess the academic knowledge but is not sufficient to develop a sense of decision making and creativity. This is why they rather prefer spending time on games, sports and almost anything not related to the textbooks whenever given a chance. Negative motivation and fear aren’t the best way to deal with school children as we have to make them curious and self-motivated in their response to the world. This is where peer learning comes to play a significant role.

Peer learning is a phenomenon where the learning process takes place among the students who are close in age and as such are able to understand each other better. Considering this, the classmates of a student are his/her peers but it is not limited to that. A student who is a senior by a few classes can certainly know the mental state of the junior as he/she had been in similar situations some years back. This becomes especially relevant for a home which has multiple children by virtue of being a joint family and nuclear families with more than one child. Now that the lockdown has brought most of the family members at home, it is a good time to internalize the interest in learning among the younger kids who feel that not studying is a boon in their life.

When a peer teaches a topic, he/she uses examples that made him/her comprehend the topic as a student and not the bookish ones that are illustrated well but not very relatable. In fact it is no secret that someone closer to our age would understand our difficulties as they would have faced them or have known someone who had. As such they would have an idea on how to deal with it and the children themselves would be more comfortable in sharing their issues with their peers. This would certainly give a ground for siblings and cousins to know each other better and go through collective personality development. We first need to convince the older lot to guide the younger ones and not be surprised to see unbelievable changes in them before they resume going to school.

An alternative for the homes without peers can be online peer groups. There are educational platforms where students put their doubt and many a time instead of a mentor the students are able to solve the query among themselves through brainstorming. Dynamic thinking is exactly what is needed for effective learning. Students when given information and allowed to make an informed choice through analysis gives them a sense of independence when they achieve results and a learning experience otherwise. A research on undergraduate music students proved that working through collaborative efforts brought more positive changes and enhanced creativity among them than the usual method where they are taught once and expected to practice on their own [2].

Our team at Involve is working to design effective peer interactions at home which will help them flourish during this lockdown. The lockdown should not be a lockdown of education. It can become conducive for the children if instead of just giving them books they are involved in real life more which can stimulate their learning. Andria Zafirakou has talked about sharing responsibility with the children and allowing them to decide for themselves which would give them ideas to explore more things through objects readily available at home. She gave examples of activities like household chores, painting, crafts, exercising and so on to keep them engaged and find something they like [3]. Children learn decision making and problem-solving in real-life situations which go a long way in their overall development. See the wonders that your young ones can do by themselves!

Reference
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/infographic-covid19-coronavirus-i...
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00339/full
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-homeschooli...

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