Today, March 19th, we are on day 4 of all Hungarian schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement we got last Saturday seemed almost surreal: all primary, secondary, post-secondary schools closing their doors as of Monday and moving online to continue teaching. This is, education is not shot down at all, it just continues online: teachers providing material to students by either using their own existing online platforms, like e-Kreta, and/or utilizing public platforms such as Google Classroom, Youtube, Facebook etc.
My first thought was: my Gosh, just how effective is this going to be in primary schools?! Working, studying from home is a big challenge for most adults, let alone children aged 6-14.
But then, my second thought was: all right, this is new. And like most things new, at first it seems impossible, and before we know it, it becomes second nature. In the last couple of days, teachers were scrambling to change their approach, redesign lesson plans, get is touch with students.
Companies and individuals have offered laptops, tablets to students who lack proper equipment to carry out school work from home. The Ministry of Education made the basic Microsoft Office package available to all teachers and students for free and publishes recommendations of learning websites/tools/tips on their website on an ongoing basis.
One of my friends, a piano teacher, is planning on offering lessons through Skype. Of course, teaching arts online is one of the most challenging areas of cyber education, but better than nothing. It is going to be more difficult and time consuming to correct hand position, piano fingering, notes etc. but it will force both teachers and students to be creative and think outside of the box.
One of my favorite solutions is that the M5 public TV channel is broadcasting educational material throughout the day. The programs are segmented based on subjects and grades, so students know when to turn the TV on to watch topics related to their school program.
In the long run, I am really interested to see the lessons learned through this very unfortunate exercise: I am sure that the efforts made these days will translate into best practices for the future. Sometimes crisis situations like this force us explore new paths, think outside of the box, and help us do things better, more effectively in the future.
Some teachers have been resisting, to various degrees, the use of info technology in their teaching, and that might change forever. Students are forced to employ more self-discipline, better time-management skills to ride the waves.
As for learning Hungarian goes, there has never been a better time to check out my basic course on the Hungarian alphabet and stay tuned for more to come.
Stay safe, all of you,