It was difficult to pick a word or phrase for this month’s Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop given the challenge of “2020 is the year of ______.” So many options! A year of learning to fail in front of students, a year of grace, a year of unanticipated challenges, a year of appreciation for things we might otherwise take for granted. But for better or worse, CONNECTION was part of every topic I brainstormed, so it deserves its own top ten list.
- We could not value physical connection with each other more, now that we do not have unfettered access.
- We want hugs from our family members, we want to break bread with friends, we want to see our children racing around and rolling into piles of giggles in the fall leaves.
- We realize that facial expressions are important to our being able to fully communicate (it’s harder to be snarky unless one has exceptionally expressive eyebrows), which makes it harder to really connect with each other in casual conversation when we are in person. The masks that are so crucial for health and safety compound the distance with an effect far larger than the 6’ gap.
- More literally, we value connectivity more than ever before now — it is indispensable to education when we are remote. We spend our days apologizing for lag time, or explaining that there was a storm last night so there are trees down and the cable company is overwhelmed. Of course, the lack of connectivity in low-SES and/or rural areas can result in children being cut off from their schooling, emphasizing for us again that there is much work still to be done in providing educational equity for students nationwide.
- We can connect with experts around the world to learn new things from people we normally would not be able to hear from. Our new familiarity (even though it’s still not comfortable, at least it’s familiar) with video links has pretty universally removed geography as a barrier to learning. (Ironic, given that lack of connectivity in education is a crucial issue in the COVID slide of some students.)
- We are connecting previously siloed efforts, watching laboratories of what are normally massively secretive and isolated teams of scientists collaborate more than they ever have before to advance science at unimaginable speeds to discover a safe & effective vaccine.
- We (as a species) are learning at an astonishing rate, making scientific connections — researchers are learning new things about the way a virus can work and reproduce and mutate, and the urgency of the moment is driving that discovery forward at astonishing rates.
- We (as individuals) are learning at an astonishing rate, connecting new ideas — seven months ago, almost none of us knew what the R of a virus was; what an incubation rate was; or what geometric growth was; not to mention that a remarkable number of us now can pronounce and even explain the basics of monoclonal antibodies.
- Unfortunately, we AREN’T doing a good job of connecting our choices and behavior with the deleterious health effects a lack of vigilance can cause. The fact that being infectious and being infected are not perfectly aligned and easily visible has made it possible for people’s observance of safety measures to lapse — the virus’s invisibility means that it’s easier to ignore it, especially in the face of pandemic fatigue.
- We value all the more the community connections we have in this strange new reality; our school is staying connected through virtual events, a plethora of after-school activities, and bookmobile visits to students’ homes, and we have connected with many new families and students in our programs.
In the end, we will likely emerge from this period more tightly connected by virtue of surviving this bizarre and scary time together.
This post is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop and we invite you to read more about what 2020 means to others in the gifted community. Read more posts from Jill Williford Wurman, Director of Research and Ersatz Librarian on our Gifted Blog.
Thank you for your insight. So many things to learn, always!