How COVID May Have Changed Our Priorities
By Christy Martin, Ed.D.
We are now beginning to look at the COVID-19 Pandemic as history. It has been a long road and one that has transitioned our thinking as communities saw its effect, and as a nation looking at the broader view. My community closed down its schools for in-person learning at the end of the school year in 2020. Parents and students were given a choice of in-person or online education in the 2020-21 school year. For educators here it has been a stressful year, but one of value and learning by all who are stakeholders in our schools. It seems there has been some transition in priorities thinking.
One of the larger lessons learned by the general community is how important our trades and service workers are. They are the workers whose contribution has allowed our lives here to maintain some sense of normalcy. However, it is something that with our short-term memory we may soon forget. We must not just honor those who are in those jobs, but we must show our young people that we do appreciate the work of those who provide necessary service to us in so many ways. Those who keep our lights and heat on, our water running, our health needs met, stock our grocery stores, manufacture our goods, keep technology running, keep us safe, and serve us in countless ways every minute of the day and night.
As educators and community members we had forgotten over the years how very important these people are to our everyday lives. Even those who worked in these industries wanted higher education or academic pursuits for their children, often forgetting the contribution they themselves were making by their hard work and service to others in their own jobs. As a country we seemed to have had tunnel vision in what actually made our country great and kept it prosperous and running well. It is now and always has been those working men and women that are part of the infrastructure of this country. They are its heart and soul. The pandemic opened our eyes to their importance.
We must treat those who chose the path of skilled trades, industry, or other jobs that are unrelated to higher academic education as the heroes and heroines they are. I saw one example of that this week. It seems, one of the local high schools in my hometown gets it. A front-page article proclaimed the achievement and experiences of local youth in work-based learning placements. Several were going on to apprenticeships at companies where they had their experiences, other on to higher education, others were going to full time employment post-graduation. As they should have been, they were honored as much as any athlete signing for a scholarship or any academic achievement.
As a community and as a nation, I hope this is a sign we have turned a page. The pandemic is behind us, but as a nation, I hope we have been awakened during our national pandemic crisis about what and who really is important in our world. As educators, I think we are getting it. Our youth from the beginning of their public-school years need basic education information that will prepare them for the world of work and to know and understand the value and place of that in a free society. If we are paying attention to what we have learned, secondary education may radically and necessarily be changed by lessons learned. I hope that as educators we look closely at antiquated schedules, curriculum, and future pathways and how we can improve that for our youth and communities.
About the author
Christy Martin recently retired after more than 35 years as an educator K-12 and post-secondary as well as several years as a coordinator of programs for youth aging out of foster care. She writes about what she knows from experiences in education and social services. Christy welcomes comments on her articles. Communicate with her via email at email@example.com. She can also be found on Christy Martin | Facebook, Christy S. Martin (@ChristySMartin1) / Twitter, and (4) Christy Martin, Ed.D. | LinkedIn.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.