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I’m really sick of people calling what’s happening right now “the new normal”, especially when it comes to schools. Nothing about the current efforts to cobble together an online replica of the classroom will replace the traditional face-to-face experience.

Since the beginning of this mess, I’ve been reading all kinds of predictions about how American education will change as a result of the reaction to COVID-19. Some speculate that school will be drastically altered as a result of this catastrophe.

I don’t buy any of it.

While schools will have some minor differences when they fully open again (I doubt masks will disappear completely, for example), I doubt the fundamentals of the education process will be altered in any way.

The standard academic calendar will remain. Classrooms will still be largely teacher-directed. The curriculums students are required to absorb won’t be changing. Kids will be presented with the same tests, scored in the same way, and they will be placed in the usual ranking order.

Schools budgets will continue to devote far too much to athletic programs that benefit relatively few students (other than as audience members). And far too little to art, music, theater, and other creative endeavors that involve many students with greater long-term benefits.1

Anyway, stop calling what’s going on now the “new normal”. There is a tremendous desire out there – from teachers, parents, and students – to snap the current existence back to the version of school that’s now fondly thought of as normal.

As soon as that world can safely be restarted, it will be.

Which is not to say there aren’t many things about school that might be altered based on what we learn about ourselves and our students during this chaotic year (or more). Some thoughts about that later.


The image is the cover of the current issue of Tech & Learning magazine, and one more thing to set off this rant.

1. Just look at the research. And please don’t tell me that teen-age concussions “build character”.