Tag Archives: COVID-19

“I’m Bored”

Years ago, my children learned those two words resulted in a fate worse than death.

My standard reply: “Here’s a scrub brush and bucket. When you finish washing the house, you can start on the street.”

Since COVID-19, however, my attitude has softened. Don’t tell my kids, but even I occasionally suffer from ennui.

Social media overachievers hasten to inspire me. They play board games as a family, with a minimum of bloodshed. They are pulling high school band instruments off the closet’s top shelf and practicing “Waltzing Matilda” with 500 other old band kids in Australia.

Workaholics are learning new languages, ballroom dancing and 100 ways to cook with vindaloo curry. They are painting bathrooms and portraits, creating life-sized origami NBA players. Some not only have finished Christmas shopping, but also have baked 19 fruitcakes apiece. Beware.

Some even (gasp!) clean.

The antidote for such pathological behavior, as many on the Internet have discovered, comprises consistent doses of nonproductivity. In a noble effort to help save quarantined humanity, I offer the following suggestions:

  • Count the holes in a box of crackers. Hurry, before they, like every other scrap of food in the house, disappear.
  • Teach social distancing to your goldfish.
  • Practice the polka. You know you always wanted to learn.
  • Recall your childhood paper airplane expertise. Fly a squadron late at night or early in the morning, when they’re trying to sleep.
  • Per video call, lecture children/grandchildren on the concepts of “rad” and “groovy.” If they close the connection, educate your cats.
  • Steal one piece from every puzzle in the house. However, if you share isolation with a puzzle addict, I do not advise this unless you have made all your final arrangements.
  • Ask your GPS for directions to Pluto. And no, Pluto, Mississippi, doesn’t count.
  • Practice mastodon mating calls on a garden hose. Believe me, this works. Years ago, when I was working nights and sleeping days, a visiting family’s seven-year-old treated me to an hour’s demonstration.
  • Debate the actual color of taupe.
  • Count the pens in your house that don’t work. Multiply by 23 and divide by 9. No reason. Just do it.
  • The walls may be shaking as your teens play a favorite song for the 41st time. But take heart. Knowing the words and music(?) so well, you can perform it for their viewing/listening pleasure. Then post the video on YouTube.

You can even project your concert on a giant outdoor screen.

Then your kids won’t become bored while they’re scrubbing the house.

And the street.

And the nearest water tower. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How have you and your family fought quarantine boredom?

Screen Education Then and Now

With the rise of online coursework because of COVID-19, many assume screen education was invented only recently.

Wrong.

Long before the Internet, there were (drumroll, please) classroom movies. Projectors with reels of film shone images onto tipsy screens.

We students sometimes questioned the claim they were educational. Sex ed films we viewed were created in 1920, before sex was invented.

I did enjoy science films. What wasn’t to love about tap-dancing chromosomes?

Movies also promoted catching up on sleep. Sometimes the most exciting part involved counting backward with screen numbers at the beginning and hearing the film’s flap-flap-flap at the end. Or if our instructor wanted to fill the final five minutes of class, he’d bid the AV boy to hit “reverse.” Then, we could watch chromosomes tap dance backward.

During that era, I learned two facts about AV assistants: a) they had to be boys and b) some teachers should have allowed them to also run overheads. Adult attempts often blurred images beyond recognition. Half the time they were upside-down. This new technological advancement really messed with my already math-challenged mind. How did mutant polynomials improve on blackboards and chalk?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Later, as an adjunct professor, I fought with plastic overheads stuck together like Glad® Wrap. At course’s end, my students excelled in one area: I’d taught them to write upside-down.

Screen education during the dark ages. Yay.

Given the current pandemic, we can be thankful modern screen education encompasses all subjects and ages. But even before COVID-19, it was touted as more flexible, more productive, and less expensive than traditional methods.

Screen education provides other unique advantages, e.g., an online student can spend her entire life wearing jammies. When he grows tired of a teacher or subject, he can, with one click, banish the annoyance — until a parent checks his online report card.

My teachers could only fantasize about making me disappear. On difficult days in 2020, those teaching online must be sorely tempted to dispense with an entire class: “Oops. Hit the wrong button.”

However, computers will never take the place of my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Baker, who read stories every day. Or Mr. Carpenter, my band teacher, who encouraged me in music and writing.

They weren’t saints. We students weren’t, either. We pressed each other’s buttons, but we couldn’t click each other off. We dealt with real human beings. Every. Day.

And learned to get along.

During this pandemic, screen learning, originally touted as superior, has generated many tough days for teachers and students alike. Most can’t wait until (drumroll, please) they can resume face-to-face education. Rediscover the joys of the human touch …

More than ever before.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How would you grade screen learning?