To me, there’s no question that we need to be strong at this time. We have to gird our loins, so to speak, and prepare for a difficult economy, more sickness, horrible election politics, and, possibly, developments that we do not like occurring in our government.
During this time, we must help others as much as we can, especially in our own realms and our own communities. I’m donating almost daily to my church’s Little Free Pantry and encouraging others to do so. If I see cases where I believe in the organization and its power to directly assist others, I’ll donate. I’m open to doing more.
Today, however, I’m thinking about a side effect of the pandemic that is not entirely related to economics or health. I really do grieve a bit that children probably will not be in classes with other children and teachers this fall. My little granddaughter positively shined in that environment, and I regret that she may be limited to online relationships with a teacher and only seeing a few close family friends.
Presently, I am writing about my early years of college teaching. Thanks especially to social media, I am still in touch with quite a few of my students. I see how their families are doing, and we exchange good wishes from time to time. I buy products from some who are in business and support some who are writers. Back when they were in school, they were in my classes, participated in clubs where I was the advisor, and came to me for academic and occasionally personal advice. A few even traveled with me to conferences.
My good friend and colleague is a biology professor. She has earned an extended family of students because in addition to being their advisor and participating in the department’s social organizations with them, she travelled with them not just to conferences where they presented posters or papers, but also to Beliz, Kenya, Nepal, and other countries. Many of her students do consider her a family member and interact with her regularly.
Online instruction is not a bad thing, and it provides educational opportunities to many. I actually like teaching college classes online, which I began doing long before I retired and have been doing exclusively in the six years since then. The online classes can be very organized and help the students be organized. And in most cases, the students do all their readings because they can’t hide behind the student in the desk in front of them as they might in a physical class.
But I have only developed a relationship with a few of my online students. The rest are just taking care of business and don’t really want to bother. The ones I do develop a bond with are more like my good social media friends whom I’ve never met. It’s a one-dimensional relationship. I always wonder what they really look like and sound like and, even though they write introductions describing themselves, what they really do in life and what the communities are like that they are from.
I’m not sure what the effect will be if colleges and universities have to go entirely online for the fall or longer. Everyone’s health will be protected, and the schools will suffer economic hardships, those two things are sure. But for a career in college teaching, one needs to experience the lives of students first-hand to understand the sustaining, human aspect of learning and education. I hope face-to-face classes will be able to resume soon.
Observations on the subjects of friends, family, country, cultures and nature.