By J. Hogan
-Gains & Gleanings-
There’s lots of confusion, fear and arguing over what to do as the school year approaches.
With five weeks to go, public schools are dealing with loud voices yelling the kids should be allowed to go back to school.
Others are yelling just as loud that it endangers the kids, the teachers and the staff to send them back during this coronavirus dominated time.
Some folks with young school-aged children want to know how they’re supposed to go to work if their kids don’t go off to school.
Some parents are wondering why they should enroll their kids in the local school if they’ll be cyber-schooled anyway, when cyber charter schools have years-old programs and systems in place to perhaps educate their child better remotely than the neophyte public schools new to that arena. It’s a solid idea, really… closing out last year at home, more than 9,000 students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system never received a computer to do their work according to KDKA-Radio.
Some schools have announced they’ll have in school classes, others, like Carlynton, will do five weeks of cyber-schooling, then assess where to go from there. Some schools are prepared to have no students in physical classrooms until the new year.
All of this is adults trying to figure out a course forward.
It comes on the heels of odd in-vehicle graduation processions, delayed, truncated commencements and folks announcing their child’s graduation with a yard sign and no gathering.
The just-graduated students feel ripped off… and they were.
They’re onto the next phase of life now. What about those still needing to churn through some or all of their 12-year journey in basic life education? If this continues to deny them classrooms, cafeterias and gymnasiums, they’re being ripped off, too.
No sports events to support and hang out at with friends. No bonding among what would have been the players and cheerleaders. No life inspiring lessons in that special bond between a coach and their players.
No laughing together around the cafeteria tables and learning social interaction. No being there when one’s friend has their heart broken, to allow them to spill it out and soak the shoulder of a shirt with tears.
Many young folks are already isolated in this high-tech era. They’re not hard to spot if you get in the mix.
They feel real uncomfortable around others, some wear long sleeves all year to hide the scabs of self-harm, others feel defeated before the game of life has even found its stride for them - feeling victimized by their existence.
There were probably three kids in my graduating class at Sto-Rox that were like that, and three or four in the classes on either side of us. Now? It seems there are dozens in this more impersonal, less interactive era.
Learning subjects is harder for most kids, I’d think, without a teacher to keep them on task.
Learning life without the social community of a school setting is harder. In a generation already challenged in those areas by addiction to smartphone screens, impersonal “social media” and coded text messaging, it may prove crippling for many.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.