Schools opening today

I used to dread the opening of the school year; September 1st, was my least favorite day of the year, but I got through, survived the experience and turned into a useful human being, though my German-born mother often doubted that I would ever amount to anything.

‘O ye, of little faith.’

You have to have faith in the system, enter the tunnel on one end, get on the conveyor belt, travel for 12 to 15 years of training and indoctrination and come out the other way fully baked.

It’s a mysterious process.

We seem not to be learning anything, we hang out with the right people, the wrong people, we hand in work, we don’t hand in anything, at the end, even if moderately motivated, and averagely bright, we get somewhere, because school is like an incubator, keeping the eggs warm, that’s us, until they hatch, grow up and mature, and can stand up on their own.


One of my most-admired friends, a local school principal, kept his school going during the pandemic, on line. He used the past six months wisely, and reports students at his school have a number of options, those who have access to internet and a computer available, stay home, they study online guided by their teachers who select a number of interactive activities for them, from a wide choice of languages, and from a wide choice of topics.

He even has a math teacher who created his own program, at a home studio.

Then those who do not have internet, nor a Chrome tablet, apparently the recommended platform, come to school. Classes are smaller and safer, and students may get a bit more attentions from their teachers.

Then there is a half-and half stream, were students are privy to both on line and classroom teaching.

That school principal friend is passionate. Nothing is a problem. He handles the kids and the teachers with great compassion and ease, embracing change and going with the flow.

He was gratified with excellent exam results for his students, in the previous school year.

But sadly, a good number of teachers are still digging their heels and resisting change.

My experts say it’s only a mindset, switching to an alternative teaching style, with the teacher as a guide, not a lecturer anymore. Frontal teaching just died.

Some of the teacher’s unions, however, aren’t helping. Stuck in the old ways, they push back. They stick to ‘cannot’ on issues from technology to flexibility on the job.   

One of the issues currently brewing is double dipping. Because of a chronic lack of funds for more new teachers, pensioned ones were invited back to active duty, they now earn a full salary on top of their pension, and present a heavy burden on the system.

Many of those retirees now carry a full 40-hour load. They make good money, and do not want to give it up, seeking union protection. And the union complies, fulfilling its original charter to protect its members, at all cost, against any perceived threat.

The ministry is also struggling with teachers who work a job and a half, up to 48 hours, they take on more work, against more pay, and have gotten used to this level of income.

Those compromising policies were all stop gap measures, and reform is overdue, merging schools to identify savings in neighborhoods with fewer kids, and making financial and structural adjustments.

But no. The unions, in particularly one, are not interested.

At a recent press conference, the house doctor association emphasized it is safe for children to return to school, contagion is very low, they explained, among children under 15: 4% for a total of 80 cases, and GOA will evaluate the situation closely, with schools applying online learning where necessary. Protocols and measures apply for elementary and secondary schools.

If you are not comfortable with sending your kids to school, a refurbished computer is not as expensive as a new one. Kids can log on, and they are in business! Many parents opted to sign their students up for K12, a popular program which offers personalized learning, via technology, delivering an interactive curriculum, to more than a million students worldwide.

Setar, where is the special internet offer for home-school students?

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September 03, 2020
Rona Coster