Education has been particularly impacted by lockdowns. Although schools have moved online incredibly successfully considering the difficulties, it is impossible for an online environment to truly emulate that of the real world, and as such, there is widespread talk of students needing to ‘catch-up’ over the summer. I would question, however, what we really mean by catching-up. It is undeniably true that for many students, academic learning has been impeded, but it is ultimately not the equations learned in physics or dates studied in history that will stick with a child and equip them with the necessary skills to navigate their future lives – rather, it is the self-esteem, motivation, and confidence developed amongst their peers, in physical classrooms.
When we speak of catching-up, we need to revaluate what this really means. Learning will fall in to place if and when young generations develop the drive and confidence to the most challenging aspects of the curriculum. Extra learning crammed in to the summer holidays will be futile because it will be demoralising and frustrating to be stuck inside, seated, and still unable to socialise with friends, trying to understand osmosis. After a year in which overall happiness and self-worth has hit rock bottom amongst the youth, ‘catch-up’ should not be focused on an exam, increasing fears of what is already a stressful situation for many students.
As a nation, we now have the opportunity to reassess our values – what are the real skills we want to equip children with for their futures? A bunch of facts which are quickly forgotten after the exam? Or self-esteem, drive, and creativity?