Education Won't Be the Same After the Pandemic Passes

After an unexpected experience with different approaches to learning, many families won’t want to return to business as usual.


In response to the pandemic and by no choice of their own, many families across the U.S. are experimenting with alternative forms of education. It's fair to say that not all of them find homeschooling or online learning to be to their taste. Having the kids go through their lessons at the kitchen table doesn't suit everybody's schedules or personal needs. But for others, the forced experiment with different approaches to teaching their kids leaves a desire for more. That has some government-school defenders sufficiently worried that they're trying to sabotage the competition.

That an unplanned venture into learning at home isn't for everybody is apparent from reports of families giving up. "Some frustrated and exhausted parents are choosing to disconnect entirely for the rest of the academic year," Time magazine reports. "Others are cramming all their children's school work into the weekend or taking days off work to help their kids with a week's worth of assignments in one day."

The problem is that being thrown into a situation that's not of your choice is a lot different than entering it willingly and after research and preparation. A few schools came out of the gate ready to hold classes through Zoom, to share documents electronically, and to hold quizzes online. All too many, though, belatedly copied off thick packets, dropped them in the mail, and wished students "good luck."

With nothing else to go by, a lot of parents tried to replicate the schoolroom experience at home. That's an exhausting approach that's unnecessary when you realize how little time is used for actual learning in a typical classroom.

To put it into context, the Remote Learning Recommendations guide from the Illinois State Board of Education suggests a maximum of an hour per day of remote learning for pre-K students, two hours per day for those in grades 3-5, and 270 minutes per day for high schoolers. Those time recommendations are supposed to include "digital interaction and assigned work."

That's not just an emergency accommodation, either. While definitions of "wasted time" vary, TNTP, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of teaching, found in a recent survey of high schools that "an average student spent almost three-quarters of their time on assignments that were not grade-appropriate." Learning at home can eliminate a lot of the slack in the schedule.

That reflects my son's experience with his private high school. Already technically savvy, the school made a nearly seamless transition to online learning that has almost eliminated homework. Remote learning has proven to be more efficient, by and large, than the brick-and-mortar version. When asked, a significant number of my son's classmates say they prefer learning this waythough many miss the in-person social interaction.

We were lucky that our son's school moved to remote learning so easily, but we would have been fine anyway. We homeschooled for five years and could have gone back to that approach without a problem. (If you're looking for homeschooling resources you can use on your own, I've prepared a list here.) But even many families who had homeschooling and remote learning thrust on them are gaining a taste for the approach.

"The coronavirus pandemic is giving every family with kids a look into the world of homeschooling and some parents are even beginning to enjoy it," WIFR in Illinois noted after speaking with local families.

"While many parents are enjoying their kids being home during this time, some parents have found that they actually enjoy homeschooling their kids more," agrees a piece in Missouri State University's The Standard after a similar review of family experiences.

"Homeschooling during the coronavirus pandemic could change education forever," the World Economic Forum bluntly says, drawing on data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that take into account both people's current experiences around the world in coping with the pandemic as well as the recent evolution of technical tools that ease learning.

And that's exactly what some defenders of the status quo fear.

"Experts warn that any growing popularity of homeschooling as a result of the pandemic will likely worsen education for students and pose serious problems to the economy and the nation's social well-being," hisses Jeff Bryant of Our Schools, a project that opposes alternatives to government schools. He warns that some homeschoolers don't share his progressive politics, homeschooling may not work for all families, and parents could choose to educate their children rather than earn a second income.

Elizabeth Bartholet, of Harvard Law School, also senses danger in parents who may not share her political and religious views overseeing the education of their own children. She "sees risks for children—and society—in homeschooling, and recommends a presumptive ban on the practice," notes an article in Harvard Magazine.

But attempts to outlaw home-based education and to vilify its practitioners can be dealt with later. Of more immediate concern is that, even as schools closed as part of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, some of the same officials sending kids home also did their best to limit access to education options.

Oregon not only closed brick-and-mortar schools to head off the pandemic—it limited online public schools to existing students.

"Virtual public charter schools as well as other online schools were also impacted by the Governor's order stating schools may not enroll new students or withdraw existing students during the period of the school closures," reported the Coos Bay World.

The ban on new enrollments was imposed to avoid "creating further school funding disruptions that would be created by the transfer of students from one school to another," an Oregon Department of Education spokesman told The 74, which covers education news.

Pennsylvania didn't technically stop virtual charters from enrolling new students, but legislators passed a bill that "forbids all public charter schools that are closed from counting new students on their official enrollment numbers starting on March 13, the day of the governor's announcement to close all schools." That means cyber charters won't be compensated for new students.

"Brick-and-mortar school advocates say students jumping ship for cyber charters could further financially destabilize traditional school districts at an already vulnerable time," PennLive noted.

In both Oregon and Pennsylvania, educating kids was a purely secondary concern for officials who thought it more important to maintain funding for institutions that were closed and risked losing students to competitors that were prepared to continue operating. They didn't even try to hide their priorities.

At the end of the day, parents see how their children rate in terms of importance in the eyes of education officials. And now they have a taste of something else. They know that there are different—and, perhaps, better—ways to educate their children. Not all families will opt out of traditional education approaches; some can't wait to get back to life as they remember it.

But just as education officials fear, many more families than in the past now know that kids can be taught in more than one way. More than a few will refuse to go back to business as usual.

NEXT: More Evidence That Hydroxychloroquine Is Not a COVID-19 Silver Bullet

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  1. “After an unexpected experience with different approaches to learning, many families won’t want to return to business as usual.”

    But you can bet your next paycheck that the unions will attack anything but business as usual.

    1. Are parents certified to raise children?

      1. Just a matter of time.

      2. Good idea for a laugh line in a sermon Rabbi.

        “Having children is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain.”
        Martin Mull

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  2. What!? They won’t be able to teach the children that there’s 72 genders and that we’re all going to die by 2030 because mom and dad drive gas cars. What a horrible future!!!!

    1. The State will feel more secure when a Stasi agent is sleeping in your home. Better yet, you’re paying for his/her room and board.

      1. The purpose of public education is to create little stasi agents in your home.

      2. We may have to at last dust off the Third Amendment.

  3. I hope JD is correct but I fear even more K-12 spending is coming to ensure “fairness” and “equal access”. Demands for every kid to get a new laptop every couple of years. More tech for the teachers too.

    I am somewhat more hopeful that this is going to pop the college bubble.

  4. “Experts warn that any growing popularity of homeschooling as a result of the pandemic will likely worsen education for students and pose serious problems to the economy and the nation’s social well-being,” hisses Jeff Bryant of Our Schools, a project that opposes alternatives to government schools.

    “Experts warn” huh? Maybe Jeff Bryant needs to go back and learn what the appeal to authority logical fallacy is. If he’s a product of public schools then maybe kids are better off at home.

    Also, fuck off, slaver.

  5. I looked at the interview with that expert at Harvard. It’s shocking to learn that homeschooling parents (well, you know, *some* of them, but it must be an impressive number since she can’t even count high enough to give the figures) engage in child abuse and teach their kids “female subservience” and “white supremacy.” Surely, to save children from such scourges, only those with special permission from the government should be able to educate their children at home.

    After all, the German government forbids home schooling altogether, and if you can’t trust the German government, whom can you trust?

    And check out the article if you think I’m exaggerating.

    1. This practice, Bartholet says, can isolate children. She argues that one benefit of sending children to school at age four or five is that teachers are “mandated reporters,” required to alert authorities to evidence of child abuse or neglect. “Teachers and other school personnel constitute the largest percentage of people who report to Child Protective Services,”

      In other words, the state might not have as many people able to snitch to the authorities on his parents every time little Timmy comes to school with a scrape or a bruise that in 99.999999% of cases has nothing to do with abuse.

      And to think, this bitch probably calls other people “fascists.”

      1. “But it’s also important that children grow up exposed to … tolerance of other people’s viewpoints,” she says

        … without even a hint of self awareness.

        “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.”

        Wait, I thought she was arguing in favor of public schools yet she just perfectly described the main problem with public schools. She seems to be very confused. Maybe she should have taken more time to collect her thoughts before spewing a bunch of nonsense.

        1. Enabling superstitious slack-jaws and disaffected clingers to teach nonsense, remove children from public sight, and produce anti-social children is not tolerance. It’s child abuse.

          1. Enabling superstitious slack-jaws and disaffected clingers to… remove children from public sight

            The jar of gall bladders is a pedophile folks. Admitted here for all to read. Heaven forbid you remove your children from where it can peek at them from behind it’s curtain.

            I always imagined it residing in an abandoned hospital, but it makes sense that it is hiding in plain sight as an exhibit in a public school biology class. It better explains it’s ability to access the internet.

            1. You should ask him how cop cock tastes. Not only does he worship law enforcement, he thinks it’s funny when they shoot peoples’ dogs. I think it’d be funny if somebody shot him. HIYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          2. I hear ya! What’s a proggy to do when you can’t teach victimhood to children and can’t teach them bigotry of anyone who doesn’t think like you do? This could set us back years in the process of catching up with Venezuela.

        2. I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.

          I’ve been keeping track of stories about children being sexually abused, reported in the local news of San Antonio. The vast majority of abusers work for one of the independent school districts. To be fair, abusers within the family may not be reported as often.

          1. Those teachers are simply doing their duty as mandatory reporters. “Did any of your relatives or their friends do *this* to you? How about *this*?”

      2. These mandated reporters can totally abuse their power if they take a dislike to a parent.

        I got reported for pulling my daughter’s feet off the bed in an effort to roust her lazy ass. The activist clinician reported me saying I was “getting physical.” Nothing came of it. It was a display of power. “Do what I say or I will report you every week until something sticks.” Cunt.

  6. Reporting on the grandparent front.

    Since the kiddos are stuck at home mom needs a break. You don’t need to teach a 6 year old how to use an iPad or phone. They teach you. There is some online school for a couple hours a day.

    There is an app called Caribu which is fun and educational for young children where you can read books together, play word games and other things so we have been doing that.

    Would be interested in hearing from other people about what they have been doing.

    1. has the ability to make worksheets (as well as dozens of other already made ones). I make crosswords and word searches for my daughter’s spelling words. They have games that my 4 yo does every day. ABC Mouse is comparable in value.

      I also am using Epic for books and they also have video books of some family favorites.

      I’ve also been reading classic books with my oldest and discussing the chapters with him. Never had the time to do that with him before.

  7. Heard an interview with an edu-bureaucrat in which the interviewer raised the specter of having the COVID-impacted children repeat a grade. She didn’t exactly go high-order, but refused to consider that approach at all.

  8. We were already going to start homeschooling this next school year, we just got a head start.

    I’m concerned with all this online education most kids and parents are opting for typing over writing, finger drawing on a tablet that is barely readable over pencil and paper, etc. Welp, at least my kids will still know how to write properly. It’s more than handwriting, it shapes thinking.

    1. For the 4yo, I’ve been trying to do both. It’s hard to find the handwriting paper and the app is just cheaper than printing out handwriting templates.

  9. Here’s another perspective: Children have wished for centuries that school would go away. Now it really has, and they wish it would come back. They’re bored and they miss their friends.

    1. I think it’s nice that this site provide a place where alienated right-wing misfits and anti-government cranks can huddle together for warmth and dream of being relevant to mainstream America (let alone of turning the tide that is crushing them in the culture war).

      1. Rev. Kirkland. What is it like having your head firmly planted in your ass?

        1. It’s not as if he can get anyone *else* to kiss it.

      2. And I think it’s nice that dog-hating, copsucking scumbags like you get to post your worthless garbage on this godforsaken website, day after day, without getting banned! Guess you gotta post kiddie porn or be Hihn for that.

        Keep bitching, idiot. If this was a true right-wing website you would’ve been banned years ago. That they let you spew your statist horseshit is proof of just how very tolerant they are. Drop dead, maggot.

      3. Rev. Kirkland is a proudly ignorant product of the public schools.

  10. I think a lot of parents are really looking forward to having their children go back to school.

    1. I know Arty the Rev is looking forward to it. He’ll go back to combing the middle schools for a date.

      1. Maybe he could hook up with a female cop. I’m sure her daddy issues and constant need to prove herself by shooting pups and people whose apartments she invades won’t get in the slightest way of their happiness.

        If she’s got a kid, even better. He can rape him/her and mommy will let him because he accepts all her bullshit without question, allowing her to feel loved by a grown male for the first time in her life.

        He can even call the little tyke a bitter clinger when he/she bitches about being raped, and even accuse them of Islamophobia because, well.. why not? He is the Rev, afterall, and we all know nothing says ‘secular’ and ‘enlightened’ like Islamic fundamentalism…

  11. When statists advocate censorship of voluntarists I like to point out I consider their ideas highly destructive but their fear of alternatives being widely known proves they cannot defend their positions. I note I have no worries they will prevail if allowed to speak/write. I fact, I welcome their input however flawed, however fraudulent. Liars lie because they fear they will lose to the truth.

  12. This is all great theory, and I’m sure there will be some who learn that their children thrive in a homeschool environment.

    But I can tell you this… most of the parents I talk to are really hating life right now. Their kids don’t want to learn from mom and/or dad. They are actually quite resistant to learning from their parents. They put up more of a fight than they did when it was just homework…. and that was tough enough.

    Especially if you have middle school kids, this isn’t the great advertisement for homeschooling that you might have hoped for.

    I have learned that my two oldest… the better students, more independent and more self motivated of the trio.. need the interaction with their teacher and other kids. The social aspect of pleasing a teacher is integral to the education process early on.

    Meanwhile, my youngest… the one who has never voluntarily done her homework in her life… She’s getting up on her own at 6:30 and is done with school by 9am. She’s doing it all on her own, without having to be pushed at all. She’s excited to learn and doing better than she was when there was a whole class full of kids. She’ll be finished with this week’s stuff by 9am tomorrow, with basically 2 full days to go in the week.

    TLDR: All kids are different and surprising. There is no one-size-fits-all solution… not even within a single household.

    1. This is spot on. Working parents do not have the time to proctor online education for grade schoolers and middle schoolers, while still doing their jobs. My observation is that high school age students are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and jump on their assignments to complete the minimum amount of work necessary to satisfy the requirements, and thus wrap up their work quickly. You get kids
      largely haven’t learned this skill yet.

      Also the schools aren’t helping much when they opt for clunky software and apps vs. much more refined tools, like the khan academy.

  13. Secretary DeVos made many of these same points some weeks ago, during a Wuhan coronavirus task force briefing. The way we deliver education is forever changed. She spoke about that at some length, along with student loan relief.

  14. Nor should it be. Beyond being cesspools of contagions, even before this pandemic, government schools are expensive failures at education.

    Willingly sending our children to Government Schools is a form of child abuse.

    1. There are a lot of private schools that abused and continue to abuse students. Look into the history of abuse at Catholic schools.

  15. This pandemic is killing the world gradually

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  17. First: the fate of workshops and laboratory work in the natural sciences is relevant for high school, and even more so for higher technical education. Simulators are not able to help with this, because “until you have been jerked right away or you have not dropped acid on your finger, you won’t understand what it is.” The second problem is dual education, the practical part of which is held by the employer – usually with sophisticated equipment. You won’t transfer it online.

    1. The third problem is more massive, although more solvable. Distance exams are vulnerable to fraud. Read more here frogprog limited.

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