The Impact That No One Saw Coming

Starting in early March the education system around the world changed beyond reckoning. In the United States, the education system had not seen much change in over 100 years with public education meant to move the masses of Americans into the factory with basic education. For the past 100 years, the model for high school was simple, a single teacher would teach a group of about 20 – 30 students by standing in front of the classroom and speaking about a topic in a particular subject. Generations of students have graduated through this mechanism and many generations in the future will continue to graduate this way. However, for this mechanism to function three factors had to contribute, physical teaching space, absence of distractions, and stimulating social environment. 

School is not only a place where young pupils went to learn the world’s information but also to form strong social bonds with fellow students. Each year new students would become Seniors and they would turn the school into something that represented their style of education. Each class would have its own unique quirks and nuances. Every year the school would be a little different and never the same again. 

The class of 2020 would have the biggest impact on schools around the world yet no one could have predicted it. The 2019 – 2020 school year began like any other. School sports were won and lost, inter-class competitions were held and students studying for exams could be seen throughout the campus. The first semester went by as fast as any other. The class of 2020 believing time could not be moving faster. Christmas was celebrated and fireworks were lit on New Year’s day when the Christian world would enter a new decade. The island of Puerto Rico erupted in celebration on the days of Sanse and memories were made. During the new and final semester, the faces of the class of 2020 turned away from the cameras and towards the study books. Exams were now only 4 months away. Nobody knew that the world would never look the same come Spring Break. 

The Coronavirus had swept across the globe and it was sure to impact the small island of Puerto Rico. School and students had not been ignorant of life-altering changes after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Covid-19 crisis would just be another bump in the already bumpy road for the class of 2020. As students and teachers prepared for schools to close and class to move online, the education system would be pushed to its limits. 

The three factors that contributed to the traditional graduation mechanism were suddenly not present for the class of 2020. Social gatherings were banned, physical classrooms turned into cyber classrooms, and distractions from the learning environment became prevalent as students now attended lessons from the comfort of their own room. 

Teachers and students now had to adapt to the changing environment and the flaws in the educational system were starting to show. As exams were canceled, students lost the motivation to study for upcoming assignments. After all, why complete an assignment when it is not contributing to your overall grade. Teachers too lost some motivation to create class plans, as the structure of the school curriculum was lifted and teachers had the freedom to decide what to teach each class. 

Students’ attendance in class decreased as students would wake up minutes before class was to start and sometimes lacked the motivation to turn off the alarm clock instead of just hitting the snooze button.  

School now had to make the decision about the continuation of classes. Questions such as, “how long can class continue in this manner?”, and “are we even learning anything new?”. These were important questions that schools around the world needed to answer. This was learning in the era of cyberspace. 

This assignment asked to reflect on a global issue or something of global significance. The online learning crisis has only just begun, but for millions of graduating Seniors around the world, this will be their legacy, one that changed their school. Memories of the final day of school and the last class of high school are unique to the class of 2020 and it is a story that only they can best tell. 


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