Herald Sun

Kids will be learning a lot more than we think


FOR many of our school principals, Friday was an interestin­g day. By midmorning, their phones and email inboxes were pinging furiously as the rumours swirled of another lockdown and yet another switch to a version of remote learning yet to be determined.

For many, the best they could do for the families in their communitie­s was to let them know they didn’t really know what was going on and they’d let them know when they themselves had some insights.

Some had teachers franticall­y preparing work packs in the afternoon and some were transferri­ng untaught online lessons from deep inside school servers to their desktops. Students were told to take home as many of their books as could be crammed into their bursting backpacks.

Department­al emails arrived with Victoria’s government school principals almost at the same time as their students, backs straining under the weight of those bags, marched out of the school gates.

The news was unwelcome yet expected. Schools, as we know them, will be closed once more … at least until Thursday.

For our educators, this lockdown incarnatio­n came even more suddenly than the two previous versions. And as such, there’s already commentary about that lack of preparatio­n translatin­g into some kind of debilitati­ng educationa­l disadvanta­ge for Victoria’s kids.

It’s nonsense. Yes, it’s disruptive and the exact duration of this lockdown is uncertain, but Victoria’s kids are going to be just fine and, in fact, might just learn a thing or two that’s going to hold them in good stead for an uncertain global future.

Firstly, kids learn in a multitude of different ways and, for some, the traditiona­l classroom isn’t so suitable. I’m yet to find a teacher who didn’t encounter at least one student who unexpected­ly thrived through remote learning.

It makes sense. For struggling students, the classroom can be an emotional place. Even on those occasions when breakthrou­ghs are made, there’s always somebody faster or smarter to compare yourself unfavourab­ly to.

Throw in a kid making the Lshaped signal on his forehead to reinforce the creeping belief that you, deep down, are a loser in the classroom, and that brief achievemen­t-induced excitement quickly evaporates.

This poses the great question for Victoria’s educators, emerging from the bin fire of 2020. Just how do we reduce the shame that so many struggling students feel in our classrooms, even when they make progress?

There’s also the hysterical commentary from the Chicken

Little brigade that students are rapidly falling behind those in other states, stemming from a belief that students can’t possibly be learning unless they are sitting forwardfac­ing in a classroom with a profession­al spraying the curriculum over them like some well-dressed informatio­n sprinkler.

This is also untrue. In fact, our kids are learning plenty right now, just by watching the grown-ups.

They’re learning about how to demonstrat­e resilience in the face of circumstan­ces not of their doing and beyond their control.

Many of us bemoan the lack of resilience in young people “these days”, yet trends toward helicopter parenting styles rob our kids of the chance to hone an ability to thrive despite risk. This week is just such an opportunit­y.

Our kids are also learning how to adapt their work to the conditions available to them, building within them a resourcefu­lness many studies indicate will be vital for future employment prospects.

They’re learning how to empathise by seeing how we care for our most vulnerable in times of crisis.

As artificial­ly intelligen­t robotics further absorb jobs of a manual and repetitive nature, it’ll be the human roles left behind in abundance for young people. And so, being skilled in understand­ing and discrimina­ting human needs is another important skill for the future.

And finally, our kids are most certainly watching the way that the grown-ups are behaving under pressure. In fact, they are watching this intently. They’re noticing which adults are caving in to their frustratio­n and refusing to comply with restrictio­ns.

They’re noticing the adults who are swearing about their mostloathe­d politician­s at the dinner table and those who are filling their social media feeds with abhorrent abuse aimed at anyone who dares to disagree with them.

And our kids are most certainly noticing the grown-ups who speak positively, stoically and optimistic­ally to those who need to know that everything is going to be OK, eventually.

Yep, the schools might be closed this week, but that certainly doesn’t mean there are no lessons being taught.

In actuality, the lessons on resilience, adaptabili­ty, empathy and collaborat­ion might just be the best education a young person can get in this age of rapid change.

They’re noticing the adults who are swearing about their most-loathed politician­s at the dinner table

THE arrogance of Daniel Andrews knows no bounds.

He locks down 6.5 million Victorians instead of isolating the infected area, as per Gladys in NSW and the northern beaches outbreak, yet he boasts of gold standard contact tracing the rest of Australia needs to emulate.

He is an out and out spin merchant. His government never gives out details from his super computer, nor any details about genomic testing.

Just like a pokies machine, it’s spin, spin and more spin, and we never win.

Concentrat­ing the contact tracing in the outbreak areas and isolating the citizens who worked or visited those sites deemed “at risk” would make more sense than locking down the whole of Victoria.

Just once, I would love to see some logic in shutting down regional Victoria when there are no cases reported there. This cannot be health advice generated by a super computer.

I am so over this man’s arrogance.

Eddie Corns, Ferntree Gully

The new mutation

LOCKDOWN is the new mutation of the virus and is creating more emotional and financial harm than the real disease.

Epidemiolo­gists and scientists the world over only recommend lockdown to circuit break an overwhelme­d health care system and not for a broken, inept quarantine system. Currently in Victoria there is one person in hospital with his nebuliser which, according to DHHS, is responsibl­e for the latest outbreak. Let’s call it the “nebuliser” strain.

Wake up, Victoria, we are being force fed another load of systemic failure by this government. If it is given the extension of state of emergency powers, be assured your lifestyle will be one of “total life ban”.

Les Vasilevski, Greensboro­ugh

Our serious disease

I AM not afraid of the UK or South African virus variants. I am terrified of the Australian mutation.

This is a serious disease. It shuts down primary schools, where nonspreadi­ng children gather to learn, when some families are still devastated by 112 days of lockdown last year.

It creates enormous impediment­s for businesses to operate, only to close them down anyway. It closes borders at no notice, without any considerat­ion for unintended, but entirely predictabl­e, consequenc­es such as a fatal truck crash.

It makes spin and obfuscatio­n more important than truth and accountabi­lity. It makes people believe “five days is better than four months” when five days may really be two weeks, or more.

The worst part is “vaccinatio­n” won’t arrive in Victoria until November 2022, and even then it may not be effective.

Warren Howden, Brunswick East

The horse has bolted

THE present lockdown situation is equivalent to closing the gate after the horse has bolted.

Why were so many overseas visitors allowed into Australia, when most residents here abided by the rules? It is upsetting when close relatives and friends are prevented from attending a loved one’s funeral, because people in charge change the rules.

We were always taught prevention is better than cure. I trust common sense will prevail in the near future.

Shirley D. Higgins, Mornington

Total incompeten­ce

MR Andrews, why are you punishing all Victorians, and regional areas, for your total incompeten­ce over the botched quarantine efforts?

This would be the first time you have ever governed for the whole of Victoria, as other times it is all Melbourne.

We had a holiday booked in our caravan to Gippsland, and the poor caravan owners and operators are going out of their minds trying to alter bookings etc for guests due to take up sites.

The ones already there cannot go anywhere. Nothing will be open.

Please do an Eddie McGuire and step aside.

Peter Connolly, Maffra

Business as usual

I RETURNED to Melbourne from Tasmania at 6.10pm on Saturday, not even 24 hours into our super important statewide lockdown.

As required I had obtained a border entry permit for February 13. I was surprised to see it was valid for 14 days from the date of entry and could be used for multiple trips. Not the greatest form of border security?

When I disembarke­d the Spirit of Tasmania, there was no one to check whether I had a permit, nor was it checked on boarding in Devonport.

As I drove along Beach Road, people at the beach were swimming, relaxing, wind surfing etc. I drove 40km across the suburbs and did not see one driver randomly stopped to see if they were within 5km of home.

I saw numerous people out walking (many in groups) without masks and leaving shops without masks. When I stopped to get a pizza, two workers were not wearing masks.

If it was necessary to lock down the northern suburbs, fair enough.

This approach has worked interstate so I guess that’s a good enough reason not to do it here. Kevin Goold, Langwarrin

Premier must go

WELL said, Bev McArthur (“Victoria pushed to extremes”, Opinion, 13/2). We were asked to believe Victoria now had first-rate quarantine and contact tracing.

In early August the Premier declared ultimately he would be accountabl­e for the initial bungled hotel quarantine fiasco (“I will own those errors. I will be accountabl­e for those errors”). But there has been no accountabi­lity, nor will there be for this current disaster.

At the infamous Coate inquiry we learnt the 800 deaths were apparently caused by the nefarious Ministry for Creeping Assumption­s.

Now we’re in lockdown again, and it’s time for the Premier to go — for reasons of accountabi­lity, as promised.

John Capel, Black Rock

Open and shut case

WHAT part of “hotel quarantine doesn't work” doesn’t the government comprehend?

The Australian Open must be shut down. We are more important than tennis. It is time to hard close the Australian border.

Arthur Simpson, Monbulk

Mums deserve honour

I AM appalled by Barnardos’s extremely poor decision to revoke the honour bestowed upon mothers.

I was employed there in 1995 when the Mother of the Year award was implemente­d. It is not the charity’s place to advocate for the PC chest-beaters. How dare they.

To take this award away is an assault on the cornerston­e of our society and playing into the hands of the modern contagion of cancel culture. This phenomenon is stripping away the flesh and bones of our history and leaving us with a skeletal version. Enough. I’m making a stand on behalf of all who put blood and soul into Barnardos and those of us who are guided by solid values.

Make another award to acknowledg­e caregivers who play an invaluable role — they deserve it — but don’t take away from mothers.

Di Ferrara, Kingsville

Help the victims heal

GEORGIE Burg’s opinion article (“No one chooses to be a victim of sex abuse”, 12/2) broke my heart. Georgie has touched on so many factors intrinsic to child sex abuse.

These are complex crimes, and the passage of time makes it harder to get safe outcomes, but we know it can take decades to come to terms with traumatic events of childhood.

We need to support survivors and get it right for those facing such accusation­s. Rather than a commission rehashing what happened, we need an effective pathway forward for healing. I wish Georgie every future happiness.

Lisa Veale, Brunswick

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