School Daze

By Anthony Freda

I’m both a teacher and a parent of a student.

I can say with authority that distance learning and the in-school New Normal are beyond bad. They are society-killing, man-made disasters.

My students are amazing, and we are making the best of the situation. I know my class will be beneficial to the students, but they are being robbed. Quite literally. They are paying for one academic and social experience and receiving a much diluted and polluted version of college life. We are all starting the semester at a disadvantage. And please don’t tell me that it’s better than dying, because attending school is not a death sentence, no matter what you have been told.

My high school son has said that online learning is “All of the bad parts of school and none of the good.” He has had more than one meltdown over the stress and confusion.

His experience in the physical school was no better. He is masked and distanced all day long. He said he did not talk to one other child all day long on his first day of hybrid learning!!!!

The following is from a “friend”:

Children are crying because they can hear but can’t see their classmates. They’re crying because they can see but not hear their teachers. They’re crying because they raise their hands but don’t get called because their teacher can’t see them. My second grader’s teacher was on the verge of tears and ended her class early. My ninth-grader was in tears and felt hopeless that she’d ever be able to learn anything. Distance learning isn’t just no learning. It’s actually emotionally harmful. No learning would be neutral. It’s not even neutral. It’s actually causing problems, creating more obstacles that will put children further behind.

Distance learning is causing emotional harm and mental distress — a TRAGEDY for our students, for our teachers, and for our parents.

My style of teaching is very personal. I want to get to know the student’s dreams so we can develop a strategic intervention plan to define and set bridge goals that will lead them on a path to success. You get a sense of a person from a real space human interaction that is clearly not duplicated by an online encounter. Some of my students choose the option of turning their cameras off, so now I am teaching to a blank screen. A disembodied voice.

I’m teaching an avatar. When you ask a question to the class, you often get dead air. It’s like teaching to a wall. The most effective means of online teaching has proven for me to be one-on-one lessons. The problem is that I have 25 students, so we are often rushed off-screen to bring on the next student.

I am on the faculty of a prestigious Manhattan art school and teach seniors. I love teaching seniors because they have a sense of urgency and even a bit of warranted fear about leaving the relative comfort of academia to enter the extremely competitive world of professional, commercial art. In normal times, I have developed teaching methods to transform the negative emotion of fear into productive and hopeful energy via the creative process. A little fear can be a good tool for a teacher. Too much fear can become a major obstacle to learning. When we keep our thoughts in the areas of the brain associated with the production of fear, we can become paralyzed. Journaling is a powerful tool we can use to make sense of and overcome fears. Writing moves our fears into areas of the brain associated with plan-making and comprehension. To be an effective teacher today, one also needs to be a therapist. These kids are traumatized.

I have them answer the following questions in their journals. The answers are not for me. They remain private.

  • How has this crisis impacted you personally?
  • In what ways has the lock-down negatively changed your social, work, and personal life?
  • In what ways have you benefited from the situation?
  • Try and think positively and answer honestly. (Maybe you are an introvert and don’t mind missing gatherings, etc. Maybe you enjoy spending more time with your loved ones or dog)
  • Has the situation changed your long-term goals or are you determined to stay on the track you were on?
  • What could you do to make the situation better for yourself and the people around you or your community?
  • What are you grateful for?

We are doing damage-control, but the long-term damage that will be done to our children and all of humanity if this fear-based-mind-control psyop continues cannot be overstated.

The in-school experience has been turned into a prison-like nightmare. There is no safe harbor, other than parental homeschooling, which is obviously a major challenge.

I do, however, want to end on a positive note. I see a push-back happening around the world and I remain hopeful that sanity will prevail. My art has been used on protest signs at large demonstrations all over Europe.

Fear is the real virus plaguing humanity.

By immersing ourselves in purposeful, creative work, we divert our energy from counter-productive thoughts and actions and channel it into something positive. Every act of creation is an act of hope. The universe was not created in a state of fear. The creation of the cosmos was an act of infinite hope! We can create our own New Normal of imagination and beauty and inspire ourselves and others in the process. We can, via the creative process, transform negative emotions of fear and pity into hope.

Source: UncoverDC

Based in Long Island NY, Freda works as an editorial illustrator, visual political activist and as part of the adjunct faculty of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. In addition to many mainstream clients, such as Time, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and The New York Times, he also contributes to many alternative news websites and publication, such as Activist Post, Washington’s Blog, and The Trends Journal. 

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