Distance learning and advocacy for snow days
Even if you intuitively know that a virtual school is not like a real school, in a culture where representations are mixed with the original, distance learning is supported. Perhaps Korzybski’s saying should be updated, “The computer is not the classroom.”
In 2014, New York State passed a $ 2 billion bond law to improve technology in schools. In February this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved $ 60 million in technology spending in 72 school districts across the state, $ 16.7 million, the second-largest line item focused on “school connectivity”. In my small neighborhood, north of New York City, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on distance learning software programs and the like, and one of the snowy days of this school year, to the chagrin of my children, was designated a virtual learning day. It’s hard not to see some of these decisions through the lens of a sunken cost fallacy.
A snowy day brings the opposite of sunken costs; it is the result of a fresh assessment of the present, and this spontaneity for the child creates a kind of rationalist carpe diem. When I was in elementary school in the 1980s, there was no system in our small town in New Jersey to check on or warn families that there was a snow day, not even on TV news. Instead, the mothers (usually only mothers) had a telephone chain; my mother would receive a call from another mother, and then she would have to call the next mother on the list. It was a literal occurrence of the phone game, but the message was short and obvious to stay muddy along the way. If the ground was covered in white early in the morning and the phone rang, I knew it meant only one thing: glorious freedom.
I took a red plastic slide or slept in our backyard, a gentle river from a forest to the wide plain of the main courtyard, or headed to my school, with a cheerful truffle 10 minutes from my house. There, behind the building, was a lush hill leading to a field, which gave him sleigh hours. Often a dozen children gathered there; but, oddly enough, as often as I was quiet in my world, sometimes for hours, boots in the snow and sssshh sled race down the hill. Eventually I would return home and enter the basement, where, due to the temporary snow blindness, I would wear almost a disorienting darkness, even though the light bulbs inserted by the light were bare. Upstairs, the hot chocolate in a package was tasted with miniature malia revived in a warm liquid.
The novelty of those days, breaking the routine, enjoying the outdoors, and connecting with nature instead of sitting in the classroom, resonates all these years. With a few details changed, my kids, now 10 and 12 years old, have reflected this routine for each winter roughly … until they canceled the snow at the beginning of this school year. (His schools had a hybrid schedule then, so half of the students didn’t miss a personal day. However, everyone missed a day off.)
Even for small minorities of students who need or prefer distance learning, the value of a snowy holiday surprise needs to be embraced. Believing that deleting a day off several times a year will “catch” studies, while preventing the creation of many unstructured and often fleeting autonomous games, is the fact that so many American students are overwhelmed with work.
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