Reflecting on returning

Education | Brighten Youth Edu Centre 28 Sep 2021

In a recent article for Time magazine, various business and organization leaders reflected on how the pandemic has reshaped our return to work. This week, we consider their words, and how they might impact student work ethics and approaches.

Said Anjali Sud, CEO of video platform Vimeo: "We destigmatized working from home, bringing a new sense of humanity to work - letting the messiness of our personal lives permeate a sanitized working world. Now we're stronger for it."

For students, this might create the opportunity to think about performative attendance.

Yes, you have to be present in lectures and seminars, but is sitting for hours in the university library really the most effective working style for you? Would you absorb more of your reading if you were at home, in a quiet environment with access to all the tea you want?

In such circumstances, if you understand your working style, don't just show up because you think you should.

Sud's comment also leaves us with hope that educators will be more sympathetic when life gets in the way of work.

For a long time, students with non-normative lifestyles and experiences have felt unsupported and even stigmatized.

Mature students, minority students as well as those with caring responsibilities or health issues who need to take time off from their studies have felt that the educational experiences is not designed to meet their needs.

Given that the pandemic has placed most of us in one of these categories over the past two years, it is hoped that tutors will now be more sympathetic to those who have to navigate such circumstances for protracted periods.

Methods need to be found to help these students engage fully.

Peter Salovey, president of Yale University, feels the online learning tools developed during the pandemic can help educators augment their classes, hold online office hours or discussion groups and host speakers from around the world.

It is true that many students miss face-to-face teaching, but why ditch the recorded lectures entirely?

Given that much of this material has already been recorded, why not keep it and allow students to rewatch for revision rather than let them work from the often fractious notes taken during lectures?

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, also focuses on accessibility.

"People with disabilities, for example, have long been denied basic accommodations for remote work because many employers assumed it was unfeasible," he said.

Accessibility is a key need for students and educators.

Schools and universities need to think about how to make this vital requirement an essential part of the educational experience.

The past two years have shown that adaptability is not only possible, it is productive.

The danger here, as the world slowly learns to cope with Covid, is sliding unthinkingly back into pre-pandemic work and study patterns.

If you have any questions about our column, or the issues raised within it, please e-mail them to us:

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