Text by Parashie Sidhwani
With the nation-wide lockdown, several schools across India have shifted to online classes. As a 9th grade student, it made me wonder whether this new method of online schooling is really going to work for students across the country as we all have our own methods of learning and studying.
While some students prefer online school, some may disagree as they don’t have supporting learning environments at home. This could be either because of the distractions at home or connectivity issues and disruptive electricity supply. More importantly, as a student, I feel that we miss the one-on-one interaction with our teachers and classmates that provides a great boost to learning.
For instance, I like to study with my peers, as they provide me with a great support system because, at least at my school, we have classes that are 80 minutes long. This is because classes this long can get extremely boring, both online and during physical school, hence coping with learning virtually will be extremely difficult for me which is why I have decided to adapt to this situation by studying in online study groups with my friends.
In order to look at the different ways in which people are adapting to the current situation, I thought I’d have a virtual chat with a few of my peers and see how they’re coping with the new regime and studying from home.
#1 Making the Most of Online Studying
Ria Shah (14), my classmate is currently studying in Grade 9 with me. When I asked about her perspective on online learning, she shared, “Associating your house to a school environment will be a challenge for sure, but I am looking forward to seeing if I am able to overcome it.” I admired how Ria is facing the obstacle in a positive way and growing as a person by overcoming this challenge with experience.
Another reason that online school will work for her is that she believes her classmates are a distraction to her. She explained, “Honestly, I have always studied best alone and school tends to keep me distracted therefore I infer that I will be more productive while attending online classes.”
However, on the flipside, Ria also mentioned that she is going to dearly miss her student life because it provides her with “The ability to explore and learn whatever you desire. Making mistakes and trying out new things without any worries from the outside world. You do not have to care about any adult duties, money, food, livelihood. Your job is basically to learn new things and acquire new skills”.
Ria will continue following her daily routine during the lockdown. Focused and motivated, she studies for at least three to four hours every day after school, and not to forget, going beyond these hours for her two main subject areas – biology and chemistry. She also prefers studying without distractions; hence, she will be following her same study schedule where she studies from either 8 pm to 1 am or 4 am to 6 am as she doesn’t face any distractions during these hours.
# 2 How much can Online learning replace physical classrooms?
Next, I chatted with Anaya Mohanty, a fellow 14-year-old classmate. Anaya has a mixed perspective on online learning. She said, “Both my parent’s work, hence they will be on their respective online conferences in different rooms. We respect each other’s privacy by being in different spaces, which also keeps overlapping noise at a minimum. My house is fairly quiet so I think it will work”, hence depicting that she has a supportive learning environment.
Although, at the same time, the one aspect she will really miss and that will bring down her entire journey of learning is the fact that she doesn’t have her friends anymore. She mentioned, “I think it will be much harder to study without my friends. I get distracted very easily and my friends know that hence they try to keep me on track during class. Our classes are 85 minutes long, so we also talk to each other to take short breaks during the lesson. I think it would be extremely hard to sit through an 85-minute class with no one to talk to or discuss anything (related to the subject) with”.
Anaya usually studies for three hours every day, especially for math and Spanish in the evenings, while listening to music, as it helps her focus better. She intends continuing this while studying from home as well.
# 3 Honest Responses to Online Learning
On speaking with Arya Shah (14), she seemed to have a slightly mixed response on online learning. She mentioned, “I don’t think that my home environment will support me to study for the most part. This is because I feel like my house is too comfortable for me to study. I will have to learn to differentiate the comfort of home and a supportive environment for studies”.
She also said, “I also think that lacking the support of others might make it harder” which shows that she thinks there are several downsides to online schooling, although, the one positive that she did have was that “I am not sure, but I do think that the distraction of friends won’t be there, so I’m guessing it will be easier to focus”.
Arya also has a learning routine of her own which she will be following during this lockdown. She plans to study from 4 am to 6 am or 5 pm to 8 pm while focusing on completing all her assessments on time due to the hustle present with online schooling.
# 4 Missing the Warmth of Friendship
Netra Mody (15) also has a mixed opinion on online schooling as she believes that she has a good learning environment, although, at the same time, she will also dearly miss her friends.
She said, “I have a good enough space to organize the resources I need”, although, she added “My classmates support me daily and help me out with understanding the topic more” which shows that her moral support from school will vanish due to the new platform of learning. Netra will also be following her organized routine.
She studies every day for about five hours from 5 pm to 10 pm every day where she will be focusing on all her subjects equally during this nationwide lockdown.
As a student myself, I can understand the pain that each and every learner out there is going through, therefore, I would like to share a few tips that each of you’ll try in order to enhance your online learning experience. One of the major issues that I face is blasting headaches from time to time due to the overuse of my devices. In order to adapt to the same, one suggestion I can give you from personal experience is by taking a break from your devices after school every day. This time can be used to do other extracurriculars, such as exercising at home, drawing, dancing, or maybe just taking a nap, but make sure to give enough rest to your eyes.
One of the other problems I face is feeling disconnected from my friends. Spending time with them for eight hours every day in school to not being able to see them at all is going to be extremely challenging, although, what’s important is that you make sure to put in the effort to stay in touch. Message them, call them, maybe Skype them, after all, what’s important is that you don’t lose the connection and keep your friendship going.
These are just the problems that I face, although, I know many of you out there might be facing challenges that are a lot harder to overcome. No one knows how long this situation is going to last for, hence it is imperative for every student to understand that we are not alone and that every child is in this together because after all, ‘Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it’ (Marian Edelman). Let us also continue and support our schools where our teachers are putting in a lot of effort into educating us during this time.
About our writing program student:
Parashie Sidhwani is a Grade 9 student at Oberoi International School, Mumbai. She is greatly passionate about tennis, art, piano, and writing. Although she dreamt of being an astronaut at NASA, she wishes to pursue journalism or architecture in the future.