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Published on The Doomstead Diner on March 9, 2020

 

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Because dead people can't teach students to spell. If the point is to teach students to spell, dead people can't do it. The same goes for teaching anything at all. Dead people can't teach. What is hard to figure out about this?

The summer could have been spent figuring out how to pair educated and unemployed Americans with students furloughed by COVID-19. Doing this would eliminate problems caused by remote learning and keep lives moving ahead. Like lives matter.

The knee-jerk solution, remote learning, by itself has serious problems. The biggest problem is the mere suggestion of remote learning causes a person to think the problem is solved. Techno-narcissism creeps in and stops thought. Today we have remote learning and tomorrow we will have Mars. It takes a strong mind not to go fantastical. Particularly if you are an educated person who has used the internet to acquire a skill or two or three. You think everyone can do it and you don't see that you are unique, special and hooked up. You are also likely to think that there is no problem technology can't solve.

Remote learning is part of a solution for doing education in a pandemic but it is not a one size fits all solution. Distance learning panders to a connected elite in the same way mail-in voting does but more so. Part of a solution under the circumstances but far from ideal. A minimum computer literacy, which many students do not have, is required for remote learning to work. Those most in need are the least capable.

Schools as a COVID-19 Petri dish is a true fact even to those who deny that COVID-19 even exists. A rational person can be perhaps slightly forgiven for the current situation since the idea that the COVID-19 pandemic would not have been contained by September seemed crazy in May. Sadly we live in crazy times, and we are now in crisis. Paring educated and unemployed Americans with students furloughed by COVID-19 leads to small classes which by their size, contain COVID-19 infection.

Thinking about what to do about schools in September was put on hold. According to President Trump America will panic if they find out that we are in a COVID-19 pandemic. Trump's solution thus has been to pretend COVID-19 does not exist and that it will just go away someday. Obeying the impulse to follow the herd, America continued to assume it had a leader all summer long. Easily seduced America trusted in the miracle of remote learning. In both cases trust has been misplaced. Everything goes away and soon enough we are all dirt. Knowing this and knowing that it is the POTHUS job to protect the nation, I find the Trump reassurance disgusting.

Small class sizes so outbreaks can be contained. An obvious answer and one which in a time of no leadership is ignored. A national program using the forcibly retired and unemployed. Homeschooling at the local instead of the family level of implementation. This is and continues to be, a valid solution. Perhaps the only solution. A solution which could be deployed now as early as January.

Elite leadership made the mistake of pretending that the COVID-19 problem does not exist. Getting classes up and running in the fall because of the choice made in the spring is nonsense now. Countries which took appropriate action can recover somewhat. It may be safe to have coffee in a Rome Café now because Italy locked down. Not so in America which made no progress in eliminating their COVID-19 problem with any national lockdown. In America money has been far more important than lives and this continues to be true. COVID-19 remains someone else's problem in America. It is an exceptional point of view which on the scales of cosmic justice does not balance.

I realize an effort to create a New Deal style program of citizen teachers has no chance of being adopted by the major US political parties. It would empower people far beyond any mainstream Democrat or Republican level of comfort. I write this knowing that America will continue to choose ignorance because this is a 'write' thing to do.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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