Disneyland is closed and Googleland is open (WIDE open and HEAVILY surfed more than ever before). Both of these places are where dreams are supposed to come true. Disney? OK. This magical place on earth provides great dreams that can come true for kids. Dreams of entertainment. Google? Hmm . . . let’s look at this one a little more closely as the dream for seeking knowledge might not be all that it is cracked up to be and could lead us astray while we are alone in cyberspace.
Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, society has immediately shifted brick and mortar schools to a virtual learning platform that many educational critics hoped that we would have moved to years ago. It is forecasted that online colleges and universities will see a spike in their enrollment next semester—which will go well beyond THEIR wildest dreams, but there is still something to be said about the face-to-face importance and impact that our teachers, educators, and school leaders around the globe have on our students of all ages that will never, ever be discounted.
The Human Interaction Factor (HIF) within the digital age will surely decrease for our students and teachers temporarily, but when the dust settles and the virus is defeated by control or vaccine, how do we facilitate learning in new technological ways without taking away the human essence of why we wake up each morning?
The fact still stands: People need people and people, for the most part, enjoy being around people, talking to people, laughing with people, and going through life experiences with people. People help us and make us stronger. Yes, people can upset us, but we learn from our sadness too.
When people are behind a screen and the screen is the primary tool of interaction, humans feel a sense that life just isn’t the same anymore and, perhaps, reminds us of many episodes of the Twilight Zone including, “Where is Everybody?” (Season 1, Episode 1) and “The Lonely” (Season 1, Episode 7). Check out the script synopses below which highlight the many TZ episodes of how people feel, cope, or are destroyed when feeling frightfully alone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC40drWHyoA.
But, what does this have to do with education beyond the fact that our students are not physically with us right now and we miss them just as much as they (some might not want to even admit) miss us? There is a balance between human interaction, mentorship, and the love of working with others with the technological skills that we must prepare our students to use even if what we are doing right now will be outdated in a few years.
I have been reading The Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols which offers a brilliant look into the importance of experts and expert knowledge as it is sometimes pitted against the flaws of social know-it-alls (we are sometimes our own greatest enemies) and the rise of false knowledge or Googleland where many people think they can get any information (and correct information) to ultimately replace the experts or teachers who work hard to know how to help students think, learn, and critically “surf” the Internet or software programs that will truly never be able to replace the incredible teachers who teach and care for our students.
In these types of low HIF spaces, teachers are needed now more than ever and I would like to thank all of the educators who are working hard to balance delivering their own human spirit from a far with distance learning activities to keep our students engaged with their own knowledge seeking and analysis of what is happening to our world right now.
Maybe Googleland isn’t really the dreamy landscape that some think it is, but rather a non-hopeful replacement for that which can never be replaced: our expert educators.
Please feel free to let me know some of the human things that you are doing from a far to connect with your students right now.
Stay healthy and be well.