Online Classes: Dedication and Distraction!
I wanted to share a few words on dedication and distractions, mainly focusing on the second part.
With this growing pandemic, most of us are forced to work and study from home. For many of us, who use modern gadgets, it is easy enough to navigate from app to app, celebrating and hiding behind screens to get our jobs done. For those who don’t, well this is the time to learn. And if not now, then when?
First, on to a small story of the “Little Boy”. He comes almost every day, to get help with his studies; as the education system has temporarily shifted to fancy video calls, otherwise used only for romantic and official meetings, to attend live classes. As much as he loves playing and fidgeting around, he sits rather quietly observing the traditional gossiping between my grandmother and his mom, and rarely stares at the newly purchased mobile screen, just bought for him and his brother to receive WhatsApp commands from his teachers.
As much as I fancy the childish and engaging voice notes from his teachers, I have watched for the past few weeks of how children learn. They need all your time and attention to truly learn. Whenever a question was shot at them, they responded in absolute silence and with popping eyes. However, I tried to give them time, and if needed hints to the answer and they would quickly guess the answer or the near answer. At one instance, the younger boy was practising Hindi alphabet and didn’t know how to write ‘eh’, and I was waiting for him to write it down. The older boy yelled from the other room, “Remember Appa taught you to write ‘eh’? He instantly said, “Oh, that one,” and wrote it down. Of all the things Appa would say at home and of all the alphabet Appa had helped him learn, he remembered that ‘eh’.
After that, a few days later, the little boy and I were learning “Eating habits of Animals”. Carnivores, Herbivores, Omnivores and cud chewing animals. I saw him write a ‘7’ for ‘f’, an inverted ‘e’, a twirling ‘s’, a twisted ‘o’. I immediately remembered ‘Taare Zameen Par’. Even now, as I write these words, my eyes swell with tears. However I have other reasons for loving this moving film, this is what I reflected back to. Again, the mother complained about how he would make silly mistakes and that he would not listen. That day we learned the chapter together, he understood everything. Although the language is a problem, we are all forced to learn our subjects in a foreign language which makes it two times harder than if we learnt in our own mother tongue. So this little boy, his mother tongue is Tamil, he learns Malayalam as his mother language at school, English as his first language and Hindi as his second language. Four different languages to write, to read and to speak at the age of eight. I’ll leave the rest for you to judge. However, the little boy avoided the snarky comments and surprisingly wrote every letter with care, correctly.
The virtual classroom (WhatsApp groups) has brought uncountable notification sounds and innumerable messages replicating the same text to the educator. Some gadgets would just die after the endless morning wishes and wishful ‘thank you’s. After the common courtesy has taken place, some will wither away and some will just sit there but in different chat boxes. Certain diligent students would offer the blue tick too soon, even before the message is being delivered. And some average students, like me, would cleverly manage all their texts from friends, from clients and from WhatsApp study groups. And then, there are ideal students, who will wait for the topic notes, the explanation, and then to a simple revision in their heads and wait for the next topic of discussion. But the task is to find out which student is each type. However, they are good at it. You can be just sipping your morning coffee or eating your breakfast, day-dreaming or phoning a friend, writing your notes for next the session to reading a novel during your class. But just wait until you get the arrow in your heart and you will never again close the study group chat until the ‘Thank you’.
Some teachers do notice the off-screen activity, (don’t ask me how!) and shoot questions right at you when you’ve failed to listen to the lecture. Just a suspicion, if you listen you can answer them. However, we have our own situational delays, ‘signal problem’, ‘the internet’s slow’, ‘it doesn’t load’ or simply ‘no-reply’. Unlike in real classrooms, you won’t be excused otherwise. There was one instance, where the answer in voice note was sent in the group, and it has never reached till today. Obviously, the teacher had forgotten and that is probably the cause of the delay in receiving the voice note. So when a teacher does ask you a question, you may have two options, like in the television game of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’.
1) phone a friend – calling a friend is one of the least modern tricks, so you can WhatsApp your buddy for the answer. Like you won’t have to retell the question because you’re buddy is the audience in the game you are playing. So it’s that easy.
2) 50-50 – This is when you can ask Google your question, it will give you a million versions of the answer you need. You can select, copy and paste, but your teacher knows you’ve stripped a page from Google so you only get half the credit.
The additional thing one can do is to accept and tell the truth, “I don’t know” This is the noblest thing you can do but you will have arrows shot at you any moment, which is the consequence.
So, I did have fun writing this, this itself is a distraction to which I could have done more productive work. The right amount of ‘distraction’ is ok, but the debate is on ‘how much?’ and how does one stay productive for 5 hours straight even with breaks? Unlike in real classrooms, we have way too many distractions at home, and how does one cope with it?
After all, even the most dedicated persons would find themselves often in places of distractions. What are your distractions during online classes? Tell me in the comments below!
And also, yesterday marked one year of WordPress and blogging. So a big thank you to all the readers of mercywrites.in. Keep reading!