Avidan Milevsky
Psychologist, Researcher, Lecturer and Author

Hey, Teacher, leave them kids alone

In my previous post, I discussed the importance of parents focusing on the psychological well-being of their children during this tumultuous coronavirus era, instead of stressing about school and distance learning. Judging by the responses I received and continuously hearing stories about the storm and stress that distance learning is causing families around the world, I decided to expand on the topic with a charge for educational institutions with some inspiration from the great Pink Floyd.

Managing work, life, and distance learning, especially if you have multiple children, is generating turmoil that far exceeds whatever stress the coronavirus has created. We are living in an unprecedented era. Trying to keep up with the traditional educational curriculum during this time is foolish and harmful. So, at least for the near future, “We don’t need no education.”

The world is at war with the coronavirus. I doubt that educators in Amiens during World War I or in Dresden during World War II were trying to keep up with the academic curriculum. This is not the time for language, mathematics, and science. It is the time for mental health, emotional regulation, and social connectivity. There will be a time in the future when we can get back to traditional schooling. Now schools should partner with parents in offering a completely different curriculum focused primarily on the social and emotional well-being of children.

For example, teachers on Zoom could be leading mindfulness exercises; they could encourage children to write reflections about life during corona; they could motivate children to talk with each other and discuss how things are going; they could read stories about children overcoming difficult periods of time. The curriculum should be geared towards helping our children face the upheaval and attend to their social and emotional needs.

Teachers have suggested to me that the problem with this plan is that they are concerned that their students are going to fall behind academically. First, considering that we are living in an unparalleled time, we may need to reevaluate what is important for our students to learn academically. Second, and more importantly, if our children are harmed psychologically during this era, the resulting damage will inhibit their ability to achieve academically in the long-run. Hence, focusing now on their socio-emotional development is not only good for their present well-being but will help them get back to an academic mind-frame when this tumultuous time comes to an end.

If educational institutions miss this opportunity in offering sound socio-emotional awareness, sensitivity, and programing, ultimately teachers are going to be relegated to being just another brick in the wall.

About the Author
Dr. Avidan Milevsky is a psychologist, researcher, lecturer and author. He is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Ariel University in Israel and a psychologist in Bet Shemesh and at Wellspring Counseling in Towson, Maryland. He authored 6 books including “Sibling relationships in childhood and adolescence: Predictors and outcomes” published by Columbia University Press. Dr. Milevsky has lectured to audiences in the US, Canada, South America, Europe, and the Middle East. He has been interviewed by national media about his work including stories in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Associated Press, Real Simple, and Allure Magazine. He has been a guest expert on TV and radio including an appearance on Public Radio International's "The Takeaway."
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