As we sift through the consequences of the pandemic for our children, educators and education researchers are likely going to be learning lessons about our school system for years to come. One truth has already been made clear: learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom.
That may sound like a prosaic observation, but the pandemic has put it front and center in a visceral way by bringing teachers, via Zoom, into all the places children are learning—none of which are classrooms. Teachers have been able to see how hard parents work to support their children’s education. They’ve also seen that, whether due to lack of ability, resources, or their own educational experience, not all parents can support their students’ education to the same degree.
During the pandemic, schools and parents have been forced to work together more closely than they’ve become accustomed. They have no choice. If a six-year-old child doesn’t know how to set up her laptop and log in on her own, the only way it’s going to happen is if her parents get on board.
This pandemic, and all of the difficult lessons that have come with it, has reminded families and schools that successful education must be an ongoing collaboration—and that technology is an essential tool to help them work together for the benefit of students.
Rediscovering the role of caregivers and families
Parents don’t generally sign contracts with public schools, but they do enter into less formal agreements with them. The school has knowledge and skills that we, as a society, have collectively decided are so valuable that we need our children to physically go to a place where educators will have access to them 8 hours or more a day.