Did we use the lockdown wisely?

Zamir Arif

As the world slowed down around the globe and more than 3.5 billion people locked themselves inside their homes to try and arrest the spread of the coronavirus, there were also millions of innocent children/students arrested in their homes and being subjected to third degree torture. As I say this, you are probably wondering if I have lost my mind. Why will children be tortured in their own homes?

Well it is a fact that from day one of the lockdown, parents have been tracking their children like RAW agents because for the first time they have time with their children. And unfortunately, parents are parenting more than is necessary. And as if that’s not enough, they’re also spying on their neighbours and relatives to know how creatively the neighbours are torturing their children during this stay-at-home period.

Add to this the fact that schools are in cut-throat competition, one after another throwing bombs on their students with zero chance of escaping. Some are giving worksheets, some notes, some are conducting video classes, some online, some sharing links for the success of the child. This commitment and dedication was never seen when the students were actually present in school.

I have a few questions to ask. Is the closure of schools a study leave given to students before appearing for the final exam of their life? Is this the only way to deal with students during this lockdown? If this lockdown is not utilized in this way, will the lives of the children be ruined? Are students machines that will stop functioning, if the fuel of studies is not poured into them continuously? Have students ever experienced such a crisis before? Are they emotionless? Actually I have a lot of questions to ask, but will not torture you, as many of you are already torturing innocent children.

I wish students had been allowed to live on their terms, for the first time in their homes not as renters but as members of the family. I wish they were allowed to speak, share, discuss, discourse, debate, decide… on those issues/topics, which they usually don’t get to. With everyone at home, for the first time, families had the opportunity to run democratically. I am not sure many of us are practicing it.

I wish schools had given their students the kind of tasks they wouldn’t have dreamt about even in their wildest dreams. This was the time when the school and teachers could have developed a good relationship with their students.

Could we have dealt with this continued lockdown for schools in a better way?

  1. School management and teachers could have talked to their students, casually asking how their lives were during this period, what they were doing, whether they needed anything, etc., and allowed them to talk and ask questions freely. I don’t know how many unanswered questions our students have.
  2. I would have asked students to be with their grandparents and parents. Talk to them about their good and bad memories. How they used to live in the olden times, their stories of success and failure in life. Their school experiences, village experiences, their memories of their parents and best friends. Do you think all students are lucky enough to talk this much with their parents and grandparents in this so called modern era?
  3. I would have insisted that my students do house work, like cleaning, washing clothes, tidying the home, helping parents in their work, learning cooking as an art. Don’t you think they may have developed compassion for those who work for them? Be it mom, dad or the house help? And this learning would have made them good employers as well as employees and above all good human beings.
  4. I would have given my students the freedom to be creative. Draw, paint, do art and craft of all kinds, gardening, interior designing, fashion designing, calligraphy, cartooning and so on. I don’t know how many surprises there would have been in store for us.
  5. I would have used tricky ways to involve my students in their studies as well. I would have asked my students to prepare study material for younger classes and share it with the teachers and younger students. Being students themselves, I am sure they would have had a better idea of transacting lessons.
  6. We only say NO to everything our students do. I would have asked my students to use the smart phone and internet, computer and laptop purposefully. Learn about whatever makes them crazy. Make videos for YouTube, post on FB or Instagram, something which can inspire others, share their knowledge, art, talent, findings.…
  7. We only demand that our students read and write, which irritates them. The reason for this irritation is repetition of the same work. Why can’t we inspire them to read something worth reading or something which they like to read. Why don’t we challenge them to write something they would love to write about? Ultimately we want our children to learn the art of reading and writing. But our approach is outdated, question, answer, textbook, notebook, that’s it.
  8. Since, this crisis is the rarest of rare, we should have motivated our students to find ways to help our government in this crisis. We must not forget that children’s minds are very creative, original and pure. They may have come up with various ways to help local, state and central governments.
  9. Children are very mobile, and naturally restricting them to one place is the toughest punishment you can give them. And in this lockdown you can understand their pain. We should have guided them in how to maintain long distance relationships without being together with their friends. Like writing letters to each other. Creating scrapbooks for friends, making cards and gifts. Writing stories and poems for their friends.
  10. This lockdown was a blessing in disguise because this generation is so dependent on their parents, house helps, teachers, friends… that they can’t do anything on their own. We could have helped them learn self-dependency. After a few years they will be on their own so why not practice being independent in this lockdown for a future without struggle?

So, dear friends we did not make good use of this lockdown. We are using it as task masters with no direction or result. It’s a lockdown in which our minds are also locked. I wish we could have opened our minds in this lockdown for a better tomorrow.

The author is a social science teacher at St. Xavier’s school Hazaribag, Jharkhand. He can be reached at [email protected].

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