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Fragments II: micro stories about the learning business

Not Another Article About Schools and Coronavirus

The fact that you are reading this might suggest that you wanted a break from the daily feed of COVID-19 updates that has, almost without us noticing, entirely changed the global conversation about health, the economy, education, travel… and just about anything else for that matter.

A photograph of surgical masks
The lexicon of school communications has changed since the outbreak of COVID-19

Few of us who work in schools around the world would now deny that a paradigm shift has occurred. This is not business as usual, and to say that we have a handle on the long term horizon would be naive. We have left the comfort of armchair re-imagining and find ourselves hurtling towards this future at an uncomfortable pace.

And I would argue that one of the reasons why it feels so uncomfortable is the fact that, in the words of Brené Brown, “Most of us feel brave and afraid at the exact same time.” We are running as fast as we can to keep up with the evolving situation. We feel up to the job. We are drawing on the deep, collective experience that is around the table. But, in the very same moment, we are all too aware that the stakes are high, that every decision we take and every word we write, matters. And all of the time, there is always that sinking feeling that we might get it wrong. Have we gathered enough information? Have we informed all of our colleagues? Are we acting quickly enough or being too hasty?

We are all looking at one another for reassurance, because we all feel suddenly more vulnerable. Contrary to what you might be thinking, however, this is a message of hope. As an international community of schools, we are reaching out to one another like never before. We are uncovering thoughtful and agile solutions that, even a few weeks ago, might have seemed impossible. We are finding that our attempts to communicate - framing a complex and ever evolving situation - are reassuring students and their families.

The point is, I believe that we are doing this because of and not in spite of this feeling of vulnerability.

In the past week alone, I have found myself unable to find the right words, unable to make the right decision, unable to give a proper answer to the person standing in front of me. And I know I am not alone here. We are all aware that there is no roadmap for the kinds of challenges that schools are facing today.

So even if we lose heart occasionally or even lose our way, this may be a time in which - to quote Brown one last time - we “choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid. At the exact same time.”


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