Stay-at-Home Schooling

July 23, 2021

While educational institutions adapted their curriculums to a pandemic reality, Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Jihu Lee took some valuable lessons from isolation itself.

 

The world of education during the coronavirus pandemic has shifted impressively to compensate for the loss of conventional learning opportunities. My younger sister, Brooklyn, spent fourth grade fully online. Not surprisingly, there is a growing concern about the impact of increased screen time on the neurological progress of youth around Brooklyn’s age who are still climbing the peak of their developmental stage. My parents themselves have been stressed over Brooklyn’s lengthened time spent on her computer. Meanwhile, I experienced my first year of college online in my home state of Utah. No matter what demographic of students we belong in, I believe we can collectively agree that a pandemic-restricted environment is not conducive to learning. I would like to offer my insight on education during COVID-19 from the standpoint of a college student. 

 

After graduating high school in 2019, I took a gap year to work and travel. By March 2020, our lives detoured in an unexpected direction when COVID-19 began accelerating in the United States. Even still, most of us, if not all, were under the impression that the pandemic would be over by the end of summer 2020. Evidently, that has not been the case. When USC began sending mixed messages regarding plans for a “return” to campus, our unease soared while our hopes and expectations faltered. I tried to keep myself excited about meeting my professors and taking classes that caught my interest. 

 

Now, as I write this, it is June 2021. It is incredibly challenging to accurately put into words what this year had brought for me. As a first-year college student, I was looking forward to taking flight from under my parents’ roof and experience my independence away from home. I wanted to meet a highly diverse student body and share stories with those vastly different from me. So many “should have”s and “could have”s. I have also felt ashamed of the feeling that I was victimizing myself, which fanned the flames of my doubts regarding my level of productivity. But through it all, I learned to regulate my emotions and discipline to feel my best, even if that meant finding a new version of myself to be comfortable with. 

 

This was not the college experience anyone would ever aspire to have, but the growth that took place in me is immeasurable. One particular idea became especially clear: education is far more than sitting in our academic classes. Spending an uncomfortable amount of time by myself has induced four main points of development: 

 

  1. The mortifying ordeal of knowing yourself and its rewards: To improve as a person, we need to know what we lack. Whether that means seeking help to resolve unprocessed trauma or trying to reconnect with our parents, we have to undergo the rite of painful discomfort to bloom again. There is nothing like a pandemic that would force me to be alone more than usual, and it has made me look into who I am, what I need and what I want to change. 

 

  1. Boosting self-discipline and becoming your own cheerleader: The person who is responsible for sending that email or finishing that assignment now instead of three hours later is me. Moreover, when our accomplishments go unnoticed, we reserve the right to acknowledge them and feel proud of ourselves. After all, external noise comes in all forms– validation, disapproval, underestimation – but I have the power to consistently root for myself. 

 

  1. Perspective: I struggle with holding space for my own feelings because I don’t consider them as important as others’ situations around the world. But the knowledge that others “have it worse” should allow us to heighten awareness and empathy rather than invalidate our own experiences. The pandemic has taught me that kindness towards myself not only strengthens me, but also makes me a better empath! We don’t rise by bringing down others, and I seem to have learned that bringing ourselves down doesn’t uplift others the way we think it does either.

 

  1. Realizing how capable you are: Whether you powered through an entire day with your energy at 100% or finished one assignment because of a raging headache, your worth and abilities never wavered and never will. The perfect human condition may not exist, but we don’t need it to prove to ourselves that we are strong. If you fall, it’s okay to crawl for a bit of the way, as long as you rise again. 

 

This is what education was for me during COVID-19. Of course, academics are highly important to me, but there is significant value in what school doesn’t teach us that we can learn for ourselves. My take on education during COVID-19 is less about how to make academics worthwhile on Zoom, but what else we were able to learn about ourselves during such an uncertain period of our lives. We do not have to feel obligated to find a silver lining in every painful lesson of our lives, but I truly believe that we deserve to give ourselves credit where it is more than due.

 

What have you learned during this trying time? Let us know in the comments below or on any of our social media channels!

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