Updated: Aug 6
To say that these are challenging times is an understatement. We’ve replaced the noise of Brexit with minute-by-minute updates on the increase in corona virus case numbers and - devastatingly - the escalating increase in cold, impersonal death toll figures. A league table of unwell people, a significant number of them fighting for their lives against a silent, invisible assassin.
Our existence is now largely defined by living very much isolated inside our homes all day, every day, with only the briefest of breaks allowed to shop and stretch our legs (two metres away from other humans, of course). Though bleak, we can only be grateful that this event has come at a remarkable point in human history where we are able to communicate with loved ones, work, and entertain ourselves (and the kids!) using the internet. Even the most technology-shy individuals among us are downloading apps and using software they may never have heard of, particularly those that involve communication (Facetime, WhatsApp video, Skype, Zoom).
Despite the harsh restrictions that we are all struggling with in these dark times, there appears to be, overall, a newfound air of genuine friendliness, kindness, and camaraderie amongst humankind, both in our online and offline communities. It seems ironic that it takes the worst of times to bring out the best in people.
Courteous behaviour and exchanging pleasantries are far more commonplace now than has been for years. Of course, we are also witnessing a share of fear-driven, illogical behaviour too, but overall it appears that the better parts of us are shining through as we realise how we really are all connected and all deserve to make it through this unprecedented time. The response to the call for help by the NHS is a prime example, with over half a million British citizens signing up to volunteer their help during this tricky time.
Could it be that we are valuing our communities more because we are realising the true value of communication in our lives now that we live in such a restrictive climate? The yearning for contact with others is very real and being experienced the world over.
In a time when it is increasingly difficult to get young people to share their thoughts and ideas in the classroom, at GeoVLE we have found that online groups are so much more effective in their communication than they would be in the classroom setting. Even the quiet students are finding their voices in the digital world.
The communication across physical space is not the only boundary being crossed. We are crossing cultural divides too; in just two weeks, our team is already dotted all over the world, with sessions taking place in the UK, Italy, Sri Lanka and Nigeria, each offering a diversity of input into our evolving curriculum and being an example of the breaking down of barriers that technology affords.
Art tutor, Terri Riddell said, "we are also working on a project to connect our students with the older members of our communities, who at this time feel not only isolated but also will be feeling particularly vulnerable to the nastier realities of this virus. Our students will be reaching out to provide some comfort in the form of letter writing and art."
Director of Education, Joe Mabbort stresses, "while at this early stage our GeoSchool sessions are linked with the UK KS1 and KS2 national curriculum, we are already approaching things differently and creating our own unique educational flair by working on weekly themes that relate to the UN’s sustainable development goals. This week, all of our sessions will be shaped around the theme of water."
Founder of GeoVLE, Kirstin Coughtrie said, "children are the future of our planet, and in our sessions we provide them with the opportunity to use their voices to create and imagine solutions to our planet’s biggest challenges, inspiring them to be curious whilst simultaneously giving them the tools and framework for robust enquiry and investigative methods."
The world may be in lockdown and society may be removed from the norm. But it is clear that in times of true hardship, we find our true humanity and reach out to those around us, disposing of the more immature aspects of our being and building bridges with fellow humans. Although it has taken this terrible event for this good to come about, let’s hope that when the storm has passed, we remember and build upon the best of these moments.
For more information on joining GeoScool, visit www.geovle.com/homeeducation