Where is distance learning not accepted

Distance learning continues - and parents are realizing that teaching potentially unwilling students is a tough job

MUNICH. Presumably - Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's Education Minister Bettina Martin (SPD) made this clear - there will be no normal school operations in the next few months. She didn't even want to promise that every student will get to see their school from the inside again this school year (News4teachers reported). This probably also applies to all other federal states - and means: distance learning will continue. For many parents, this is actually the bad news of this week.

A video of an Israeli mother recently circulated on the Internet. In it, she vented her displeasure with studying at home. "Listen, that doesn't work, all of this learning from a distance," she said indignantly, talking herself more and more into a rage. Lots of messages with working material from teachers, along with fractions or explaining science to the children. "How should I know all this?"


She should speak from the heart of many parents in Germany. After the school closings in mid-March due to Corona, German students also had to study from home. And while graduating classes and older pupils can gradually go to school from April 27th, 80 percent of the children will be able to continue like this from Monday after the Easter holidays.

Schoolchildren got assignments through learning platforms

After initial difficulties, a lot had happened before Easter. Older students received orders via learning platforms such as Mebis or were in direct contact with teachers, for example via mobile phones. Teachers made explanatory videos, others invited their classes to video conferences. Often there were worksheets by email. The prerequisites at home: a computer, printer and stable internet to print out mountains of paper. "The whole thing is almost entirely analog - with the exception of the reference to a few links on the Internet," stated a father from Munich.

An effort that not all parents can or want to undertake. The President of the German Teachers' Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, sees difficulties in, for example, poorly educated families or with parents who do not speak German well and therefore find it difficult to help. Unfortunately, the students from such families could hardly be effectively reached with homeschooling, says Meidinger. This also applies to children who need special personal support, such as language support or who have a need for inclusion.

"There will be no more full lessons this school year"

Nevertheless, everyone will have to come to terms with this kind of learning again from Monday. On April 30th a discussion will be held as to whether and how the schools can reopen from May 11th. Not an easy task, because in addition to the question of how to teach in divided classes and with a safe distance, there are also rules for compliance with hygiene standards or behavior during breaks. Normal operation, everyone agrees, is not in sight for the time being. "There will no longer be full lessons in the school year," says Simone Fleischmann from the Bavarian Teachers' Association.

Parents have to explain tricky things like calculating the power, make English grammar palatable or even get the little ones to learn. In the home office, this is pushed between working on the computer and the conference call. Parents who work outside the home try remotely over the phone. Both arduous. According to a survey by the Bavarian Parents' Association, 15 to 20 percent of parents experienced the situation as extremely stressful or overwhelming. "This leads to arguments and stress in the families, parents are constantly dissatisfied drivers for the children when it comes to school," criticized the association in an open letter to Minister of Education Michael Piazolo (Free Voters).

What is missing: The social togetherness in school

"The parents are not assistant teachers," said Piazolo. There should be no grades until the start of lessons. But at some point it is no longer enough to just repeat what has been learned, believes Meidinger. Now you have to switch increasingly to taking on new material. And: "The longer homeschooling lasts, the more you have to think about how you can make up for the increasing knowledge gaps in the phase afterwards."

According to Michael Schwägerl from the Bavarian Philologists' Association (bpv), what is currently missing most is social interaction at school. “This is about mutual feedback, for example, or simply being there and being together between the teacher and the class,” says the bpv managing director. 6-year-old Theo from Nuremberg, who misses his school friends, thinks that too. «School at home is not fun. My teacher can explain better and the breaks are funnier. "

The Corona crisis could also do something good: "The experiences of the past few weeks will certainly have consequences for the intensification of digitization in the education sector," believes Jürgen Böhm, Federal Chairman of the Association of German Secondary School Teachers. "Now you have to learn from the deficiencies that have occurred."

Some parents should also realize that teaching potentially unwilling students is not as easy as they thought. The internet has a funny answer to that too, this time in a clip with the Minions, in which the teacher minion laughs at the frustrated parent minion - with all his heart and with great glee. At the end of the day there may be the realization that humor can help, after all. By Cordula Dieckmann, dpa

The post will also be discussed on the News4teachers Facebook page.

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