Dumpster fire. Epic Fail. “A bad joke.” Much has been written about remote learning from the harried perspective of parents and teachers. And most of the adult-driven feedback ranges from “challenging” to “a disaster and terrible for children.” There is also a small but growing contingent of families for whom the silver linings of doing school at home are stacking up. And yet, lost in all the hand-wringing and hair-tearing are the voices of the ones swept up in this sea change: kids—50% of whom are still learning remotely full-time this fall.
We wanted to know what they think of their ongoing virtual reality. So we asked them.* The great news is that kids are adapting, and in some cases, thriving in online and hybrid learning environments. The qualifier is that the population we queried is relatively privileged. Their answers do not necessarily reflect the worst tragedies of our collective circumstances: Students who have lost parents to Covid-19. Mothers leaving the workplace in droves. Tech inequity. Untold numbers of “lost” children—some who can’t attend school because they’re caring for younger siblings; uncounted others falling through the cracks of the class and race divide. It’s also clear that all of these kids are challenged by endless hours on screens, insufficient social interactions and technical difficulties. But they are powering through with a sense of optimism and grace that, quite frankly, should be a lesson to us all.
So hey, if you’re looking for a little levity, and evidence that (some?) kids around the country are (kinda, sorta?) all right, look no further. Here, in their own words, some K-12 perspectives on the perks and pitfalls of school in 2020.
*To ensure privacy, at the request of their parents, some kids’ names have been changed.