+
upworthy
Education & Information

Veteran educator shares a refreshing perspective on what kids need from school now

Veteran educator shares a refreshing perspective on what kids need from school now
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Public education is one of the most complex issues under normal circumstances, but the pandemic has made it far more complicated. The question of how to meet the needs of kids who come from diverse families, communities, and socioeconomic circumstances—not to mention having diverse mental strengths, interests, and challenges of their own—is never simple, and adding the difficulty of living through a pandemic with its lack of certainty, structure, and security is a whole freaking lot.

Kids' individual experiences during the pandemic have varied greatly. While the overall situation has been hard for everyone, some kids have actually thrived at home, away from the rigid schedules and social quagmire of traditional school. Other kids have floundered without the routine and personal interaction, while still others are stuck in terrible home situations or have needs that can't be met by parents alone. Some kids are being greatly harmed by missing school.

Educators, politicians, public health officials, and parents have gone around and around for the past year trying to figure out what smart, what's safe, what's necessary, and what's not for kids during COVID-19. Many of us are worried about the mental health and educational struggles children are facing. There are no easy answers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

However, there is an attitude that we can take that will serve all our children as more kids move back to the classroom. A 40-year veteran of our education system, former New York teacher and administrator Therea Thayer Snyder, wrote a letter on Facebook that has resonated with teachers and parents alike. In it, she describes what our kids have experienced during the pandemic, how academic standards and measures no longer apply, and what schools can do to help kids process what they've been through. It reads:


"Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am writing today about the children of this pandemic. After a lifetime of working among the young, I feel compelled to address the concerns that are being expressed by so many of my peers about the deficits the children will demonstrate when they finally return to school. My goodness, what a disconcerting thing to be concerned about in the face of a pandemic which is affecting millions of people around the country and the world. It speaks to one of my biggest fears for the children when they return. In our determination to "catch them up," I fear that we will lose who they are and what they have learned during this unprecedented era.

What on earth are we trying to catch them up on? The models no longer apply, the benchmarks are no longer valid, the trend analyses have been interrupted. We must not forget that those arbitrary measures were established by people, not ordained by God. We can make those invalid measures as obsolete as a crank up telephone! They simply do not apply.

When the children return to school, they will have returned with a new history that we will need to help them identify and make sense of. When the children return to school, we will need to listen to them. Let their stories be told. They have endured a year that has no parallel in modern times. There is no assessment that applies to who they are or what they have learned. Remember, their brains did not go into hibernation during this year. Their brains may not have been focused on traditional school material, but they did not stop either. Their brains may have been focused on where their next meal is coming from, or how to care for a younger sibling, or how to deal with missing grandma, or how it feels to have to surrender a beloved pet, or how to deal with death. Our job is to welcome them back and help them write that history.

I sincerely plead with my colleagues, to surrender the artificial constructs that measure achievement and greet the children where they are, not where we think they "should be." Greet them with art supplies and writing materials, and music and dance and so many other avenues to help them express what has happened to them in their lives during this horrific year. Greet them with stories and books that will help them make sense of an upside-down world. They missed you. They did not miss the test prep. They did not miss the worksheets. They did not miss the reading groups. They did not miss the homework. They missed you.

Resist the pressure from whatever 'powers that be' who are in a hurry to "fix" kids and make up for the "lost" time. The time was not lost, it was invested in surviving an historic period of time in their lives—in our lives. The children do not need to be fixed. They are not broken. They need to be heard. They need to be given as many tools as we can provide to nurture resilience and help them adjust to a post-pandemic world.

Being a teacher is an essential connection between what is and what can be. Please, let what can be demonstrate that our children have so much to share about the world they live in and in helping them make sense of what, for all of us has been unimaginable. This will help them-- and us--achieve a lot more than can be measured by any assessment tool ever devised.

Peace to all who work with the children!"

It's always been true—but especially vital to remember now—that kids are human beings first. They are not receptacles we're shoveling knowledge into, they're not machines designed to churn out perfect test scores, and they're not robots who can be expected to return to an assembly line of learning after this past year. Millions of our kids will have lost a loved one to COVID-19 while millions of others are being told it's all fake numbers. Millions of kids will are coming back to school from homes where parents have lost jobs, where food has been scarce, where insecurity has taken hold. Millions of kids are dealing with anxiety and depression, some of which they already had pre-pandemic and some of which has come on in the past year.

As parents and teachers, our job is not to make sure kids "catch up" to arbitrary standards that barely made sense before the upheaval of the past year. Our job is to nurture these growing, changing human beings as best we can, to help them build the resilience to move forward and learn from what the whole world has experienced. Learning happens in a million ways, and many of the lessons of this past year are just as valuable as any lesson they'd learn in a classroom.

Kids need us to understand that and to honor them right where they are.


We all know that Americans pay more for healthcare than every other country in the world. But how much more?

According an American expatriate who shared the story of his ER visit in a Taiwanese hospital, Americans are being taken to the cleaners when we go to the doctor. We live in a country that claims to be the greatest in the world, but where an emergency trip to the hospital can easily bankrupt someone.

Kevin Bozeat had that fact in mind when he fell ill while living in Taiwan and needed to go to the hospital. He didn't have insurance and he had no idea how much it was going to cost him. He shared the experience in a now-viral Facebook post he called "The Horrors of Socialized Medicine: A first hand experience."

Keep ReadingShow less


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


Keep ReadingShow less
"Freddie Mercury" by kentarotakizawa is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Fans are thrilled to hear Freddie Mercury's iconic voice once again.

Freddie Mercury had a voice and a stage presence unlike any other in rock music history. His unique talents helped propel the band Queen to the top of music charts and created a loyal fan base around the world.

Sadly, the world lost that voice when Mercury died of AIDS at age 45. For decades, most of us have assumed we'd heard all the music we were going to hear from him.

However, according to Yahoo! Entertainment, remaining Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May announced this summer that they had found a never-released song they'd recorded with Mercury in 1988 as they were working on the album "The Miracle."

Keep ReadingShow less

Jack Black does impression of The Rock.

I don't know what it is about impersonations that are so fascinating to people but they're often hilarious, and Jack Black impersonating The Rock does not disappoint. From the 2018 clip you can't tell what prompted the impersonation but "Screen Junkies" interviewer looks to Black and asks him about his workout routine as if he's Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

The comedian adjusts himself in his seat and doesn't break character the entire time and somehow the interviewer is able to maintain a serious face throughout the process. Kevin Hart and the actual Dwayne Johnson cannot keep it together while Black does his impression of his co-star.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Man lists 8 not fun, but very important things you need to start doing as an adult.

"Welcome to being an adult. Maybe you weren't told this by your parents, but this is through my trial and error."

@johnfluenzer/TikTok

8 things you should be doing as an adult. Spoiler alert—none of them are fun.

Who among us hasn’t come into full adulthood wishing they had known certain things that could have made life so so so much easier in the long run? Choices that, if made, ultimately would have been much better for our well-being…not to mention our wallets.

But then again that is all part of growing older and (hopefully) wiser. However there is something to be said about getting advice from those who’ve been there, rather than learning the hard way every single time.

Thankfully, a man who goes by @johnfluenzer on TikTok has a great list of things young people should start doing once they become adults. Are any of his suggestions fun, cool or trendy? Not at all. But they are most definitely accurate. Just ask any 30+-year-olds who wished they had done at least four of these things.
Keep ReadingShow less

A woman was offered $200,000 for her dog.

For most dog owners, their pooch is a member of the family, best friend, confidante, and loyal protector. They would never dream of giving their dog away to anyone, let alone selling their pet. However, what if the offer was $200,000?

A TikTokker named Alexis Elliott says she received a “legit” offer of $200,000 for her Doberman pinscher puppy, but refused because she wouldn’t dream of selling her dog.

“Someone offered us $200K for our puppy, and I told my husband ‘absolutely f*cking not,’” the TikToker said. “Would you guys sell your dogs for $200k?” she asks later in the video. “Like, that is my baby! That is my baby. I birthed her. That is my child. Like there is no money, I would not sell her. But it just got me thinking, like, I wonder if people would have taken that 200K?"

Keep ReadingShow less