I've been worried...
Updated: May 26, 2020
Different people have had very different experiences of this year. That’s most likely because different people have had very different expectations of this year.
Covid-19 has brought some people the desired break away from the challenges of life and work, and the permission to cocoon away into the solitude of their homes. Others are desperately yearning for a return to what they believe to be normal, worried about the implications of this lockdown for their futures.
I too have been worried. My mind has been occupied, wondering about our country’s learners – or perhaps all countries learners for that matter. I’ve been worried about grade 12 learners and how they have been coping with the significant ‘cost’ of Covid-19 for their academic year. I’ve been worried about their hopes, their wishes and expectations – as well as their losses. I’ve been worried about grade 3 learners and how they must be longing for their break time soccer matches with friends. However, thinking about them all made me realise that they are not one person and that their wishes and expectations may not necessarily reflect a common experience.
So often during this lockdown, we have been reminded that homes are not necessarily safe spaces for children. We have been reminded that not all families or parents can provide a space that feels nurturing and secure. However, as government and private bodies have been negotiating and debating about the possible return of learners to academic spaces, I have been reminded that our schools have not always been nurturing or secure spaces either.
I worry about our children, our learners – and whether the national lockdown has perhaps been an escape or a rescue for many. The phenomena of bullying in schools has been escalating over the last decade. Whilst we are now continuously reminded that we may be sending our learners to face the perils of Covid-19, I wonder whether we have spent sufficient time thinking of the perils that learners have often been sent out to face on their own long before this pandemic began.
I’ve been worried. I still am. Whilst I am sure that we will soon be informed of any Covid-19 transmissions as a consequence of the re-opening of schools, I am equally sure that little will be reported about children sharing their personal wounds with others. The sharing of wounds through looks, words and action. At times insignificant to the adult eye or ear, but life-altering to young souls who are yet to recognize their own sense and value.
Covid-19 has reminded us of many things that need to be remedied within the academic system. The stark inequalities of school infrastructure and accessibility is made more visible, but it’s always been there. Bullying and the transmission of wounds have also always been there. All of these concerns are critical and in need of redress. However, as we worry about our learners’ academic prosperity and their physical health, let us also be reminded to be equally aware of their psychological and emotional well-being.
We’ve been so worried about their psychological health due to lockdown, let us remind ourselves to be worried about their psychological health when they are sent out into the world too.