I have something to say about Zoom

Updated: Apr 26, 2020, 08:28 IST | Shaili Chopra | Mumbai

A media professional and mother of two questions the rumpus around online classes during lockdown

Picture/Twitter IANS
Picture/Twitter IANS

picI am a working mother, who has run businesses from home for a while. Except now, everyone is doing it and I find my space taken over. The schools of my six-year-old and two-year-old have introduced classes on Zoom. This means I have to make sure they have food in their little tummies by 9.30 am and I have their online class set up ready in two separate rooms. And yes, I'm sharing my laptop with them. I have to toggle my calendar with my husband's on our many calls and take charge of more than my share of this household.

I wait for quiet time, and for someone to explain to me why the need for us all to zip, zap, Zoom during a global health crisis. Do our children, any child below Class X, need extra classes? What do we imagine will happen if they don't keep pace with the syllabus for a few weeks? What harm can an extra month of holiday do? And no, the onus is not just on school administration and teachers, but parents too. One of them asked whether full school days were a likelihood instead of "just two classes".

I believe there is the understandable apprehension of how teachers will earn salaries and run their own homes, and how schools will justify levying fees during lockdown. But to compensate by burdening overburdened parents and having them perform tasks that are impossible to do via a screen isn't the answer.

At my two-year-old daughter's class, 15 toddlers semi-stare at a screen while a couple of teachers try to get their attention. Of the 30-minute class, 10 minutes are spent in the little ones trying to greet each other with good morning at various intervals. How are they to get a grip on technology, sit still beyond a few minutes? I think they might learn far more while laying the dining table.

And then there is us. Most parents continue to work full time at home under quarantine. It's a burden to download and upload homework every day, plan their craft, revise their lessons with them, while conducting our own conference calls and maximising productivity. And there is no escape from cooking and chores. I have also squeezed in time to give them a haircut. Cooking is no longer a stress buster. It's what we have to do because no one else will.

While this could have been that rare opportunity to spend time with the children, we are running after them to deliver. When I asked my son what's changed in his life after the lockdown, he said, "You guys are always instructing and scolding me." That disturbed me because that's not what we had meant to do, but it's what was happening nevertheless.

I suggest we renounce Zoom, we let the kids do nothing (there is more than one article backed by research to suggest that boredom is a learning mechanism). Let them breathe clean air, sleep, grow, talk nonsense around us and enjoy helping with the chores. It will feel like the old times when as a child, I learnt by accident, and made bed sheet tents between chairs, tried to set a wobbly raspberry jelly, dusted shelves only to discoverbooks I thought I had lost. A schedule-free life wasn't so bad after all.

Will we consider it? Because not just the kids, we can all do with a break.

The writer is the founder of SheThePeople.TV and award winning journalist

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