Day: April 14, 2020

Learning in Times of Corona

Kids are back in school, virtually. I am amazed at the great resources available to them. Smurf’s 3rd-grade class is organized; he gets a clear list of daily to-dos on Google Classroom, clicks on each task and does it, turns it in, then proceeds to the next one. He has a videoconference with his class three mornings a week and he’s had some playdates with a good buddy the same way. He’s enjoying his piano lessons over video. I’ve started some light kickboxing tutoring with him, because he’s been really into it ever since I deigned to set up the heavy bag I’d bought for Xmas. He’s super cute in oversize gloves, punching!

Middle Boy’s school situation is much more chaotic. He’s in middle school, so different teachers for different subjects and different kids. Some teachers are comfortable assigning work online, others not so much; the amount across the board is far less than what the kids would do in regular school.

Middle Boy is now learning Spanish through something called Blended Spanish software, which (to me) looks gorgeous. I don’t speak Spanish, but speak (with various levels of proficiency) several other languages; I’ve been meaning to brush up on my rusty German for years now, but hey, no time like the quarantine to take up learning a new language, so maybe I will make it Spanish alongside MB.

It bothers me how little general knowledge the kids have (or maybe it’s just the perpetually blase MB). He was supposed to find verbs ending in -es and -is in a sentence in Spanish, but it turned out he didn’t know what a verb was or what verb conjugations were. These were quick to explain, but why doesn’t he know this from school? (Why don’t many of my undergrads alongside some domestic grad students know what parts of speech are? When I mention things like a compound adjective, so many of them give me a deer-in-headlights look.) I have no idea when these concepts are covered in K-12 English; I’m thinking in elementary school, but I hope it is before the start of foreign-language instruction.

Husband always tells me not to compare people against myself, but I’ve always wanted to know EVERYTHING. Scratch that; I wanted to learn everything where I  could appreciate an underlying logic, and the logic made memorization a breeze. I hated teachers who made me cram without rhyme or reason (I’m looking at you, all history teachers and most biology and geography teachers I’ve ever had). At some point I fell in love with grammar, and that love and fascination with the underlying structures stayed with me as I studied foreign languages. Seeing the conjugations of the present tense of a couple of Spanish verbs, and how natural the rules were, made me giddy.

Anyway, virtual learning. On the upside, at least I now know what the kids are learning and can help out and explain what was missed. And I get to learn a few things along the way! 😉


Likely taking a break from posting tomorrow, as I have a story deadline and some award nominations to finish.

Re some stuff on Twitter. I know it’s a privilege to be home at this time and not outside, doing essential work and risking my life every day. But the likes of me who are fortunate to work from home can’t be expected to self-flagellate over it 24/7.