By Sonia Gandhi Mehta
The sudden attack of the pandemic prompted schools and educational institutions to adopt a hybrid education system to ensure continuous and smooth delivery of study programs to students. With immediate shutdown being the only solution to prevent the spread of the deadly infection, the concept of virtual/hybrid learning has emerged as a savior. Welcomed by both parents and schools. Help keep learning going while keeping children safe and secure. However, the past two years of virtual learning cannot erase the impact and importance of physical classroom scenarios. The traditional education system, which includes brick schools, provides comprehensive development for children. It is not limited to academic learning but includes elements beyond education such as developing social skills, communication, bonding, sharing, showing empathy, and gaining sensitivity to dealing with real-life situations. Schools are an educational institution where children understand different aspects of life, which go beyond the content of textbooks.
Schools play all the most important roles in the early years of influence for children as the learning environment in the organization teaches them teamwork and collaboration along with providing them with the tools not only to be brilliant professionals but also better human beings. Besides, school education is a major factor in determining the general development of a child in terms of knowledge, growth, social and interactive skills.
There is a famous quote by an American multicultural scholar, Benjamin Franklin, who says, “Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I may remember, Involve me and I learn.” This is the participation that physical education systems provide to engage children in learning new concepts and developing new ideas.
Hybrid education has certainly expanded access to inclusive and equitable quality education, but it cannot guarantee the social, cultural and emotional development of the child. Students sometimes feel isolated by the absence of human interaction, remoteness, and reflection. This feeling of neglect can put anyone at risk of emotional imbalance, stress, anxiety and negativity, not to mention sensitive little souls. However, classroom instruction prompts students to stay motivated through face-to-face communication and peer group activities. Besides, the scheduled school schedule adds discipline and order to the students’ lives by engaging them through exciting group learning techniques. It also helps teachers track students’ performance, learning ability, and mental health, despite asking them to voice the problem. Apart from learning, managing tasks and homework is easier in the offline school system as deadlines can be changed for each case individually. At the same time, the pattern of online education is more impersonal. If a student struggles with a particular form of meltdown or feels frustrated, lacks willpower or sufficient discipline to follow a study schedule, he or she will lose attention or interest in completing assignments, resulting in feelings of fatigue and overburdened workload.
School education is a perfect blend of online and offline learning, but not every subject can be taught online. For example, science, sports, and physical education are subjects that cannot be taught solely digitally. These topics require more focus and attention, which is best when students learn in the presence of a physical teacher. In a physical classroom setting, teachers can determine whether students have understood concepts or still have doubts. Learning in the classroom provides students with a more convenient environment to express their thoughts, ideas and concepts through various activities such as discussions, debates, tests and promotion of healthy competitions. Also, it is easy for teachers to monitor their students and check the level of participation, which has become a major challenge in the virtual learning environment. Students’ attention span decreases with more distractions regarding managing household chores, family issues, or finding a quiet place to study.
Students who are accustomed to constant stimuli on mobile phones, tablets, and apps are easily distracted and cannot focus on online classes without supervision. Diversified content on social media platforms without regulations is also a serious concern, as it can easily affect the mental health of a student, infusing them into lower complexity and hampering their ability to focus and learn.
It is undeniable that the traditional school system revitalizes the learning process of children by providing them with real-world experience and adding experiential, holistic, integrated, inquiry-based, discovery-oriented and discussion-based curricula in their learning environment. Also, teacher motivation holds great importance for a child’s daily brain development. However, online learning requires parental supervision, which is somewhat limited and, in some cases, not possible because they are also busy with housework and office work.
Digital technology is expensive, and in a country like India, where there is a large income gap, as well as an infrastructure gap, relying on online education would not be a viable or viable option. Besides, online education requires investment in internet and devices such as tabs, cell phones and laptops for unimpeded flow of lessons. Even at the time of the pandemic, many students were unable to study due to a lack of resources and a digital divide. Hence, physical learning is more effective. It enables students to interact face to face with friends and teachers and makes the learning process more interesting and exciting for them. Blended learning is a good second option only when the first option of a brick school is out of the question, but the first option cannot replace the last.
(The author is the Principal of Pathways World School, Aravali. Opinions are subjective and not necessarily those of Financial Express Online)