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Photo credit: Maddy Leja

“More or Less School?” Comic by cartoonist Maddy Leja.

Lessons For Remote Learning

How Unconventional Memorial Instagram Posts Shaped My Mind

The first week of school was inevitably met with countless prompts about how we, as students, are feeling about starting the year completely remote. While optimism feels uncomfortably forced and bright smiles are difficult to convey through a small square in the corner of someone’s screen, frustration has taken a front seat. Conversations with my friends always spiral into how much we wish traditions and normalcy could be restored for our final year at Parker. We talk about how we crave the experience of walking around the Big Gym, hand in hand, trailing behind bagpipes; we so badly want to reconnect with peers, cracking jokes and cramming in study sessions during Conference. So much of our dialogue has turned into what we are missing out on instead of focusing on the immense efforts the school is making to provide a safe, and as special as possible, learning experience. 

I understand that online learning is far from ideal, and it’s easy to feel disconnected and upset about how events are playing out. I’m not one to be entirely optimistic myself; I have had my fair share of partaking in negatively-toned conversations. There’s no doubt that physically being at Parker is unparalleled; students are given a safe space with much needed human connection and support. Being online doesn’t mean we have to lose the support, though. Sure, we might not have that physical human connection, but the care for the student body is there. 

I was recently drawn into a never ending rabbit hole on Instagram which helped shape my views on this less-than-desirable situation.  I don’t turn to Instagram as my main news source by any means, but I often find that personal anecdotes are conveniently accessible on the platform in ways that they may not be through more mainstream media outlets. One post in particular really resonated with me, and I think the broader message can be carried into a variety of life’s aspects– especially our mindsets of online learning. 

The post shared a list of traditionally annoying or inconvenient moments that really happened to people on 9/11, causing them to be late for work and in turn saving their lives. For example, the post reads “one missed the bus.” Another example is of “the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning. Before he got to the Towers he developed a blister on his foot. He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid.” 

Most people would be annoyed at the fact that they missed their bus or have developed a blister, but those are the exact reasons why people are still alive to share those stories. I am not at all saying the magnitude of online learning is that of the occurrences of 9/11 because it’s not; online learning is a small inconvenience in our lives that could never even be compared to the despair and innocent lives lost in 9/11. However, the message of this post can be applied to how we are viewing our remote learning experiences: annoyances right now may lead us to a more positive future.  

When I think about how past seniors got to visit their little brothers and sisters for Big Brothers and Sisters or how they had the luxury of popping into the College Counseling office to ask a question in person, I grow slightly annoyed and frustrated that I don’t get those quintessential senior year moments. But then I remember: this is the time to embrace annoyance as a means of understanding that we are where we are supposed to be. Sure, things are different, but that does not mean that they have to be worse. 

The Upper School is definitely being challenged right now without spending our days inside the building, so embrace the awkwardness of this time and be extra grateful for connections with peers and teachers.

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