What We Need to Learn from this Pandemic

It is heartbreaking to see that cases of coronavirus are surging in the Philippines. Cases are likewise exploding in India. We are also clearly not out of the woods yet here in the United States. Nonetheless, there are signs and talks about returning to normal. One area that has witnessed a great impact from the pandemic is education. Yet, we still seemed to be obsessed with deadlines, tests, competitions and submissions. Schools remain a place where success simply means being able to jump through hoops. Children and their educators are only expected to satisfy requirements, requirements that have become eternal even amidst a pandemic. The coronavirus has changed our lives in so many ways, but what seems to be impervious is our "standards of learning", a set of rules that me must comply with, no matter what the circumstances are. If there is one good thing that this pandemic can teach us, it is the reality that our schools must be communities where we all grow to become more human. Jesus Jay Miranda, OP of the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, sums this up nicely in his recent opinion, "Caring, not conforming, is what schools need now".

Above photo copied from the
Harvard Graduate School of Education

In this article, Fr. Miranda is making us aware that "The education sector has tolerated this kind of system, as it has kowtowed to the illusion that everything can be objectively measured. Ironically though, this obsession for objectivity also reveals its own prejudice. Its paradigm is brutally frank: you adjust to the requirement. It will not adjust for you regardless of anything, including the pandemic. The requirement appears to have a life of its own."

Sadly, Fr. Miranda is correct. When we finally rise from this pandemic, schools are most probably going to continue to be places of competition, requirements and cruelty. If there is something to learn from this pandemic, it is realizing that schools are communities where we can all become more human, more caring. Schools need not be copies of Wall Street. Schools should be places where we all grow to become more human.