The Coronavirus education gap

By General Education Advice

Yesterday, I was in a conference call with two higher ed administrators in Connecticut.  Both are expert researchers in education.  They are friendly with one another but have distinctly different philosophical outlooks on education; one is highly practical and the other is more idealistic.  Yet, they absolutely concurred on one point: there will be a Coronavirus education gap.  This will prevent some young people from finding gainful employment, the main concern of the practical educator.  This will prevent some young people from being properly educated, the main concern of the idealistic educator.

On a macro level, education gaps will occur as expected.  Those who attend schools in Connecticut’s cities will be hurt more than those who attend suburban schools in Fairfield and Middlesex Counties.  Suffice to say, distance learning, while a general disaster compared to traditional schooling, is comparatively less disastrous in Westport, Guilford and Madison than in Bridgeport and New London.

But the education gap that parents should care about will also occur on a micro level.  Those within the same school systems will be getting vastly different educations.

While self-motivated students outperform the less than motivated types during regular schooling, the difference becomes far greater during unstructured time.

Consider an athletic metaphor.  When a self-motivated soccer player is in the same soccer practice as a less than motivated teammate, both are still being directed within the same structure.  Most significantly, there is interaction with a coach who holds all accountable. Sure, the driven players may run their wind sprints with more effort than the less driven but the whole team is running wind sprints. The coach will not let the lazy players slide. Similarly, in traditional schooling, the motivated and unmotivated are within the same class framework.  While we can presume the former will get more out of the classroom, the teacher holds all students accountable.

Now, take the athletes out of the practice field and the students out of the classroom.

The self-motivated athlete gets supplemental training from an outside coach and practices on his own.  The unmotivated athlete does neither.

The same is happening in relation to school.  The students that we are working with  – during their unstructured time – are doing far better than those who are just “checking the box” in distance learning school.

There will be education gaps.  Make sure your child is on the right side of the gap.

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