Much of what I know about distance learning, I learned from the Granny Cloud…
It’s been ten years, on and off, of connecting virtually with children in a range of disadvantaged contexts, mostly in India. Ten years of ups and downs, of being disappointed when things didn’t work and delighted when expectations were surpassed; disheartened when children were unresponsive and uplifted when they surprised me with their curiosity, confidence and creativity. The children ‘on the other side’ came to every session, unfailingly enthusiastic, open to new ideas, willing to experiment and be challenged, excited by an opportunity so different from their reality of life and school.
I’ve engaged in virtual interactions where the sound didn’t work and all we could do was make faces at each other or where the children spoke no English and simply stared at me. I’ve planned, what I thought were, interesting sessions that fell flat and I’ve gone into sessions with no plans, that turned into powerful learning experiences for both the children and me. I have often marvelled at the simplicity of an idea that is so powerful in its implementation, and wondered what Jayesh and Digvijay, Anshika and Farheen will be doing years from now and who they might become in the future.
Yet in these most challenging of times, as I apply my learning from the Granny Cloud in the context of distance learning with privileged children, it saddens me that those children from whom I learned so much, are currently unable to connect…
The most valuable messages you can take to your current experiments with remote/ distance/ emergency learning (whatever you choose to call it) are these:
- Children are capable, competent and creative.
- Personal connection matters more than content.
- Focus on relationships rather than curriculum.
- Don’t try to replicate school.