CARMICHAEL: Flying by the seat of our pants

Published 9:57 am Thursday, August 13, 2020

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With the advent of non-traditional instruction in many of Kentucky’s school systems because of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents, grandparents and caregivers are about to be called upon to assist children with at-home schooling.

Students everywhere are about to learn that we adults don’t really know as much as they’ve been led to believe.

It’s been eons since I was in school. I attended my 50th high school reunion two years ago.

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Regardless of the number of years that have passed, I can still recall my parents stressing the importance of studying hard and retaining the information I was being offered because they said, “One day, that knowledge will be critical to your success in life and in your career.” Truer words were never spoken.

One particularly difficult subject for me was math. I have struggled with numbers my entire life.

Although it comes far too late to bolster my argument that I just didn’t “get it,” studies have now shown that some people have a genetic predisposition (or perhaps even a biological glitch in the hard-wiring of their brain) that prevents them from understanding mathematical concepts.

I learned to cope with my inadequacies and successfully navigated a career that spanned over a quarter-century.

However, even parents who excelled in the manipulation of numbers are finding the new methods their children are being taught to be confounding.

For years, parents have struggled to assist with nightly homework; but during the pandemic, they are now tasked with overseeing the non-traditional teaching of their kids in the home.

Yes folks, when school resumes online, the jig will be up.

Our disguises as all-knowing, knowledgeable adults will be ripped away.

Our kids and grandkids are going to quickly realize that most of us are not “Smarter than a 5th Grader,” as the television program of the same name suggests.

We know that homeschooling is not going to be easy for anyone (and I certainly do not wish to make light of parents whose struggles will be magnified by issues with child care and juggling their own work schedules).

We must find the bright spots to cope with a situation that is beyond our control.

For example, while it’s true that you won’t be able to send children who refuse to focus and be attentive to the principal’s office, you can retreat to your makeshift teacher’s lounge as often as needed. Your lounge can be the laundry closet, the garage or any place of your choosing; and instead of coffee, your teacher’s lounge might have a box of wine.

Although the experts say to stick to a schedule, school hours are at your discretion. If by some stroke of luck your kids allow you to sleep in on occasion, consider it a gift.

You may choose to begin first class after your second cup of coffee and (bonus) you can all stay in your pajamas.

Give yourself and your children credit for even the smallest accomplishments. Some days, it may be sufficient to be able to say that you were successful in logging on to the NTI site. Accept that you’ve done your best and try again tomorrow.

Good luck to all of you as you navigate the COVID-infected waters. Congratulations on having survived five months at home with your family thus far.

Proceed with caution. You’ve got this. I believe in you.

May the force be with each and every one.