I’ll refrain from using “new normal,” “pandemic,” “m/e/g/c/q” and “unprecedented” because (quite frankly) I just keep hearing and reading these terms over and over and over again. We all have a pretty good feel (or opinion) of the current economic and health environment today. Parents have a tough(er) decision to face now. Do you choose an online only program? Do you skip a semester or a year? Do you enroll your child and trust in the protocols put in place by the school?
As educators, we rely on the scientists and government officials to give us the proper guidelines on what is deemed safe. We may have a different opinion or even disagree, but we are not health professionals. As a Singapore international preschool, we abide by the Ministry of Health (Singapore) and Department of Health (Philippines) guidelines.
We’ve been doing thermal scanning, taking off our outdoor shoes, asking for allergies/health concerns, and hand sanitizing since the inception of Cambridge. We’ve added shoe sanitizers, face shields, and the staggered entry and exit of classes to prevent the usual rush when students come in and when they are picked up. We could add and subtract to our repertoire of safety measures as needed.
The science and understanding of COVID-19 has shown that those who are intellectually honest change their mind. New evidence, new opinion. I applaud the scientist and health professionals who changed their mind in light of new evidence. Initially, there were articles that came out stating the uselessness of masks. Now, we all wear them. It’s alright to be wrong, and it’s hard to admit that you were.
No method is one size fits all. Progressive, traditional, Waldorf, Montessori, and the list could go on and one. I’ve always thought about comparing the various educational systems (and trying to find the best school) to trying to find the best restaurant. Yes, there are Michelin and San Pellegrino lists; however, the best restaurant is entirely context specific. If you are in a rush to get to work, cereal or some toast bread and coffee may be the best meal (not a 21 course degustacion.) If you are on a road trip with your family, something quick off the highway may be suitable. If you are taking your spouse to an anniversary dinner, fast food is probably not the way to go.
Same goes for the education program when choosing one. The “best” education is simply the one that works–if your child progresses emotionally, socially and academically, then it’s probably working for them.
We’ve seen the closure of many businesses. Airlines, car rental companies, retailers, restaurants and schools have seen their fair share of bankruptcies. The education sector is no different. When a parent pays for a full year of schooling, they are essentially betting that the school will be around for the next school year.
The most appropriate recommendation we can make as educators for parents is to do what works for you. We would love to have the students and teachers and staff back in our vibrant centres. We know that nothing will replace face-to-face interaction. Shouting, talking over each other, seeing facial expressions in the flesh, and building lasting human connections—we miss them all dearly. Still, if a parent is deciding between online only and physical school, trust your judgment. Parents make the best possible decision given the information at hand.
At Cambridge, I am proud to say that we have not laid off any teachers. We have not cut pay. We have not closed any centres permanently.
We do offer an online program. From the start, we openly admitted that this was something new for us and that it was going to be tough. We’ve learned some but continue to learn. Our methodologies change too based on the evidence.
We employ a progressive, project based approach because we believe in learning by doing. It also has the added benefit of being incredibly fun (both for students and teachers!) Choose a school that works for you. Most of the time, the best way to find what does work is to try it out. Come join us for a free trial!
PS. I can’t believe that I made it through writing this without using “pandemic”, “new normal”, or “(m)e/g-cq”. Now that is “unprecedented!”