The year 2020 was a challenging one for the teachers. We encountered some unexpected changes across all sectors.

Neha Kapil

The   pandemic disturbed almost every aspect of the school at once. It was not just the switch from classrooms to computer screens, but also a dramatic shift in the basic ideas about instruction, attendance, testing, the role of technology and the human connections that hold it all together. A year later, a recollection of the past one year shows us that some changes may last for a long time. They may be as permanent as the school education itself.

This period of change in 2020 that started from school closures leading to online classes is something that will stay etched in the history of our education system. I believe this period where online learning came to the very fore of education marks the beginning of an era where education shall be more holistic and no longer bound by the conventional boundaries.

We are already seeing some of the benefits of investing in technology with the spread of the internet. In the recent past, the availability of cheap data has greatly fuelled internet penetration in the country. This ever -increasing connectivity can make quality online learning accessible to every nook and corner of our nation. It gives us the opportunity to ensure that no matter where the students live, they still learn from their teachers.

However, the online system of education has also brought in some negative effects. It has led to a disconnect between the teachers and students. The online teaching has also resulted in the lack of outdoor physical exercises. The feelings of camaraderie, friendship and team spirit that we learn when working, studying and playing together in the same physical environs, have all been lost in this pandemic. It can also be seen that a greater proportion of the students and teachers are obese, as compared to the pre-pandemic period. Some children have also become closed themselves in their own cocoons. They are shy of talking in front of strangers. Easy accessibility of digital gadgets has also, inadvertently, exposed the children to a world of cyber bullying and cyber-crime.

Today, we are at the juncture where we have the golden opportunity to complement the learnings of this pandemic with our well- proven traditional pedagogy. We need to bring in a change in the methodology and our expected outcomes from education. We must continue some mode of online learning, as this is what will prepare our students for the future in a more connected digital world. However, the focus should no longer be on rote learning of facts and information. The children of today will have all the information available at the click of a mouse. What we need to train them in is the way to dig out the right information, and later process and analyse such data. There should be more public speaking lessons and exercises and the lost focus on team games and sports should be re-aligned.