Today’s parents are sending their children into a much different school environment than they experienced. It’s a safe wager that many of the people reading these words still have a keen recollection of chalkboards.
They don’t use those anymore.
But if that was the only difference, modern parents wouldn’t feel the level of confusion and concern that so many do. Because for every positive change— data-assisted educational curriculums— there are also very frightening ones. Intruder drills. Covid protocols. Political tension.
What does all of this mean for children and the parents who want to give them the best education possible? In this article, we take a look at several changes. Some good, some not so good.
Read on to learn more about how classrooms are changing, and what it means for the learning process.
The Good: Digital Technology
Covid-19 would have played out much differently thirty years ago, back when the internet was still in its earliest stages. But because it happened in the digital era of human experience, kids were able to enjoy a learning environment not so different from the one they were accustomed to.
Not everyone thrived in remote learning, nor will it likely become a preferred alternative to the traditional school environment in the near future. However, there is no denying that it allowed schools to make the best of a bad situation.
Post-Covid, schools are able to use their remote learning plans to handle everything from weather-related emergencies to closures related to viral outbreaks. Situations that would have once caused children to miss school now allow them to experience it in a different way.
The Bad: Digital Technology
See what we did there? Digital technology has its benefits, but there is also growing concern about how it impacts young minds. Study after study has shown that people retain information better on paper than they do when they have received it from a screen.
Constant access to the internet also has very real safety concerns that schools all around the planet struggle to address. How do you keep students from accessing harmful online content from school? Sure, there are safety controls, but ask the teachers in your life how effective those are.
The internet isn’t going anywhere, so schools and parents alike will need to be more vigilant than ever when it comes to keeping their kids safe online.
The Good: Data Implementation
Schools have always used data to evaluate performance and adjust curriculums accordingly. However, the scale at which they are able to do that is changing rapidly. For one thing, there are more ways to take data than ever.
Those good/bad machines we referenced in the last two headings are constantly recording information that teachers can use to evaluate their students’ performances and make highly specific plans.
School districts can similarly evaluate the performances of thousands of students all at once, making macro choices in real time that will have the potential to boost outcomes.
The Bad: Unease
Go back throughout human history and you will surely encounter millions (billions?) of parents at least mildly uncomfortable with the idea of sending their child off into the care of strangers for forty hours a week. However, that natural anxiety has expanded significantly in an era where intruder-led attacks on schools are a constant feature of the news cycle.
Parents, teachers, and the students they educate can’t help but experience this anxiety, as it plays out in the form of intruder drills, troubling headlines, and a general wariness that school might not be the safe place it is supposed to be.
The Good: Greater Inclusivity
In most parts of the country, it is easier to be a minority student today than it was 20 years ago. In most parts of the country, it is easier to be a minority student today than it was 20 years ago. A lot has changed within the last two decades, with one of biggest changes being that same-sex marriage has been legal now for over a decade.
Now, LGBTQ students can walk down the halls of their school and frequently encounter clubs, posters, and other signs of support proving that they are a valued component of the school.
Things are far from perfect, of course, but in most places they are better than they once were.
The Bad: Political Tension
Politics have always bled into the classroom. However, there is now a cultural battle that lives primarily on network television but seems to bleed constantly into classrooms. From parents who worry that too much diversity is being factored into the learning process, to those who fear there isn’t enough, it seems that some parts of the country can’t escape heated conflict on the topic of what students should or should not learn.
This question of what schools should teach versus what should be left to parents not only makes it harder for teachers to do their jobs, but it also creates tension within students, forcing them to divide their loyalties between their parents and their teachers.
It’s important to keep in mind that, while classrooms change, their essential function remains the same. To help guide children into adulthood, equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to lead productive lives.
Teachers work very hard toward that end, and they do it out of passion. Is there fear and tension? Sure. But while these things may feel new and unmanageable, they really aren’t so different than similar sensations that have gripped parents and their school-aged children since the beginning of time.
There will always be controversy and disagreements surrounding education for the same reason that there will always be dedicated teachers, parents, and students making the system work: School is important. It produces strong feelings in those who care about it.
While education will always grow and evolve, that’s one thing that will never change.
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.