Welcome back for Season 2 of the Bored of Ed!
Last season our Bored Members responded to the global CoronaVirus Pandemic with dreams of getting #backtobetter instead of “back to normal”. This season, Dr. Jal Mehta brings humanizing our students to the top of the agenda.
Jal introduces his point with a comparison between private and public schools. The pandemic birthed nationwide remote learning but still, education wasn’t equal.
You’ve got private schools that are – buying tents and creating opportunities for kids to have in-person, outdoor learning opportunities. And you’ve got public schools serving poor kids where we can’t even arrange to get them a decent internet connection, or a tablet, or a computer…
He goes on to call out how, as a society, we’ve failed to prioritize student learning. We’ve opened up bars and restaurants before ensuring a safe return to the classrooms – “we could have just done so much better. I mean, we could have done better at a lot of things, including handling the pandemic, but this is just sort of one dimension. I’ll stick to the part where I have expertise.”
Jal points out two problems that were jarring before the pandemic. The first is “massive inequities in what students receive” and the other, “massive waste of human potential”. Students across the country, born with curiosity, would come home from school day after day and report they learned “nothing”. “So essentially, we’ve taken people who start with a lot of curiosity and gradually drained it from them.”
When Jonathan asks about Jal’s opinion of the one-size-fits-all school model, Jal reminds us that people come in all shapes and sorts so the idea that schools everywhere encourage our kids to become one kind of person – just doesn’t work. Jal speculates that students don’t know why they’re in school, other than a legal obligation. Without meaningful assignments and purpose-driven projects, school is far from a learning environment.
Moving forward, Jal reminds us to find balance in education. Our jobs are not to stuff students with facts but rather, to raise good, critically thinking people. The bad news is that this pandemic has dismantled public education. The good news is that this pandemic has dismantled the status quo. Now let’s build something better.
For more insights from Dr. Jal Mehta, tune into Season 2 Episode 1 of The Bored of Ed.
Until next time, Stay Bored.