We thought we were done with it, that we had ridden out that storm. Well, we were wrong. And here we are again: families are stressed and disappointed, teachers are worried, students are not quite sure if they should feel happy or sad. All because we are already familiar with e-learning, we know exactly what it entails. There’s no kidding ourselves. We all know exactly how this is going to pan out.
Attached to this letter, parents and students have received a document created by Mr Lefèvre and Mme Capel with their tips, instructions and expectations. You will find that we have learnt our lesson from the first closure (it seems so long ago – when we were one of the only schools in the world to close). The outlines on our document reflect our desire to offer simpler processes and – let’s hope – even more efficiency.
But today I don’t really feel like talking to you about technology, logistics, devices or wasted (or not wasted) class time – the 8 upcoming days between 23rd March and 1st April account for 0,003% of a complete K-12 education from Petite Section to Terminale).
Today I would rather tell you to take care of yourselves and of each other. Enjoy these moments spent with your family, without too much stress. Go out for a walk – we’re lucky in Taiwan, we are still allowed to. Take some time to speak with your relatives confined in France or elsewhere. Yes, children will be making mistakes, they will moan, they will want to be doing something else. Nothing out of the ordinary there. The whole enterprise of education, as I often have said over the years, is to create a caring atmosphere. That is how students learn. Not through stress and struggle, but through patience, dialogue and support – although one must sometimes be firm. What is happening to us at the moment is already stress inducing enough without having to add an extra layer. Learning must be a celebration, not a chore. Easy to say, I know, but at least we can start by setting this as an ideal objective.
The world is full of people who are very good at maths, whom you can’t fault in history, or who are brilliant at science. The streets of New York, Paris, Rome and Los Angeles are full of university graduates. And yet we’ve come to realise that in the end that the issues are elsewhere. That what’s missing is not knowledge, but a sense of community, respect for the Other, a collective conscience, a capacity to see ourselves as part of the much larger picture on which we depend, in which our actions matter because they can harm or protect. No Man is an island, Donne said. And if students can learn this particular lesson via Zoom or through their family and hold it dear to their heart, then this closure will have not been in vain.
Time to let you go now but not without a bit of good news. Headlines have been made up of fatality rates since this virus has taken over the planet, so it is an immense pleasure to tell you that Sarah, our CP teacher and Sabrina our PS learning assistant will both take a break starting the coming days to give birth to their babies. We’d love to give them a big hug but we will instead wish them all the very best in the world.