In the past few months, I have seen young friends, after anticipating their high school graduations for four years, resign themselves to virtually “walking” on Zoom. I have seen engaged couples, dreaming of their weddings for several decades, reluctantly decide to live-stream their services from an almost-empty church. I have seen a lawyer, having reached an ambition of his whole career—the opportunity to try a case before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals—disappointedly agree to a settlement by phone call.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was an international panic, it was a personal crisis, it was a freak of nature, it was a governmental conspiracy, it was the death-blow to globalism, it was the death-blow to localism, it was an extended vacation, it was an interminable grounding, we we were in it together, we could kill each other coughing, we had unbroken family time, we had cordoned corners for everyone’s Zoom meetings, we were riding bikes and planting gardens and doing home projects, we were hoarding beans and hand sanitizer and toilet paper, we were all going to
I distinctly remember the realization as the camera shutters clicked. We had gathered to bury our grandfather, and now we posed for posterity. Suddenly I realized that with this funerary passage, something new had happened, something I had never experienced before. The oldest generation had vanished, and each succeeding generation, without being consulted, had simply moved up. Nobody asked if this would be alright with them. It just happened. This meant our parents--impossible!--would be the next to die. Plucked from the grandchild group, we cousins were the new parents.
As we listened to Genesis 1 on an audio Bible last week while piecing together a puzzle, my son remarked, “It’s saying the same thing over and over.” He was referring, of course, to the repeated line at the end of each day of creation, “And there was evening, and there was morning…”
“Well,” I responded, “That’s the refrain. The creation account is like poetry. There is order and rhythm to it.”
As our foray into virtual teaching begins to lose its novelty, I’d like to offer some practical tips and tricks for maintaining a cohesive classroom environment online. I’ve previously written on some of the pertinent philosophies behind virtual teaching, defending it as a fit environment for nurturing learners.
Consider Asynchronous Learning
These days most education is moving online amidst the frenzy of doomsday alarmism and a dogged trust in fiscal stimulus bills and N95 masks; unusual practical concerns—will Safeway have beans and toilet paper today?—beset many households; the specter of economic recession haunts our minds, employment, and portfolios. These days it’s hard to maintain focus on teaching and studies, when the familiar securities of the saeculum are shattering around us, when hopeless cries for human intervention cram the airwaves.
Dear parents who suddenly have their schooled children at home,
A Quiet Place has become one of my family’s favorite movies over the past few years. Anytime we have a house guest, my children’s first question to them is, “Have you seen A Quiet Place?” If the answer is no, that guest had better be prepared to get their pants scared off because my children will force them to watch it.
What can I say? My children are homeschooled and therefore unsocialized—not much I can do.