Latest News and Comment from Education

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Teacher Tom: A New Better Normal

Teacher Tom: A New Better Normal

A New Better Normal

Whenever I hear someone talk about the "new normal," I find myself listening with a sense of foreboding, as if it's a phrase from Orwell's Newspeak lexicon. It's as if people are trying to put a positive spin on a world without live theater or lively bars; where human contact is largely limited to waves and winks; where everyone is working from basement offices with screens as their primary window on the world.

I instinctively push back. I don't want a new normal. People speak hopefully about human resilience, about how love and art and humanity will "find a way," but there is no guarantee that the new way will be an improvement, or even an adequate replacement, for the old. In fact, looking back on many of the new normals that have emerged in my lifetime, I have legitimate reason to worry. The fact that today's children have far less freedom than I did as a child is an appalling new normal, one woven from a "crisis" invented by the irrational fears of minds no less fevered than those of today. The new normal of high stakes standardized testing and curricular standardization and trying to force three-year-olds to read that emerged from the manufactured crisis of "falling behind" has lead to a new normal in which our youngest citizens are suffering from mental illnesses at rates unheard of in the old normal. And I'm far from convinced that our new normal of anonymous suburbs and cities is an improvement on the old normal of towns and villages where neighbors knew one another.

I understand the instinct to think positive, to anticipate rather CONTINUE READING: Teacher Tom: A New Better Normal