Off school – V: Screen time

The fifth edition of this series looks at how students are responding to and embracing the new “online” reality that has been thrusted into their worlds.

Our first write-up is from Ruchika Bhuyan, a Class 10 student of Sanskriti The Gurukul, Guwahati, Assam.

Learning through luminous screens

“EVERYONE, TURN ON YOUR CAMERAS!,” shouted the teacher for the umpteenth time, and instantly all the monotonous (name) initials on the screen morphed into faces of students, happy to see each other.

Education is the path along which growth happens in life. Learning in physical classrooms has been the conventional method of imparting knowledge. However, while we are trapped in our homes in this period of crisis, normalcy seems to have come to a halt. Taking a stroll in the streets under the beauty of the night sky or along the gorgeous view of a sunset has become a distant memory. Laughing with friends till our cheeks ache and our bellies tingle seems like an experience belonging to a different time and space. As we are trying to normalise these changes into our daily routines, learning through luminous screens has become surprisingly a source of my happiness.

Sitting at my desk with my eyes glued to the laptop screen, feels like an old habit and simultaneously, a new experience I’m still to familiarise. It was strange at first to slide through presentations than flip through textbooks. The fact that writing examinations would be facilitated by phones never occurred to me in my wildest dreams, especially when Indian education is based on pen and paper. However, tasks have become more organised through online schooling. Strict deadlines and timely tests almost push us to the edge of a cliff. Working with a laptop also drives in a sense of professionalism as if an employee in a job. I often pretend to be a college student as I write my English essays or complete my Biology worksheets; it seems a delightful dream. 

Like a coin, online education has two sides to it. It is not all wonders. Network connectivity issue is the most dreadful enemy that hinders learning. The strength of the internet varies from region to region. Sometimes, it irritates me when assignment submissions are delayed even if I have completed them on time or when tests are ruined. The excuse of connectivity seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue and at times, teachers refuse to believe us, even when we are honest. However, I understand how difficult it must be at their end. The thing that motivates me most to push myself out of bed every day and sit in front of a screen for hours is the dedication and endeavour of our teachers. They are trying every possible way to make learning easier while uncertainty hovers in the air.

Still, sometimes I miss the sound of the chalk screeching across the board. I miss whiling away in class. I miss the indistinct chatter that welcomes me into the corridors after lunch. I miss gossiping in corridors. I miss feeling like a bird oscillating back and forth on swings in the playground. I miss bunking sports period under the pretext of clearing queries with teachers (I hate sports with all my heart!). I miss the adrenaline rush before entering the examination hall or before the start of a competition. The shiver that runs down my spine, the beads of sweat that break out on my temple, the vigorous pounding of my heart against my rib cage and the slight trembling of my hands. I miss taking random tours in the elevator just for the thrill of it. I miss the voices of my knowledgable teachers speaking eloquently. I miss sitting on a bench in my classroom. I miss the jokes and laughter that would spring up suddenly in the middle of class. I miss so much about going to school.

However, online learning provides me with much more time for self-study without wasting time in commuting. It keeps me on my toes. Schooling through screens has also taught me to be grateful in life at every moment. Everything is uncertain. On 6th March, all my friends and I had the impression that on 2nd April, we’d see each other again. Those very faces seem like a lost memory now. Some students had plans of studying abroad, while others had important examinations of their lives pending and their future dangling in the air.

Everything doesn’t happen the way we plan. Does it? 

Our next article is from Shayan Basuroy, of Class 11, Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi.

A new direction

We all are in lockdown, and this is the time to be creative, quirky and do all sorts of things that just keep the blues away. It is actually a blessing in disguise, as it allows us to let our imagination run wild and do whatever we wish to. People all across the world are discovering their hidden talents and making DIY projects. Creativity has helped many have a good time.

Initially when the lockdown started, I was quite apprehensive as to how I would pass my time at home, with nothing much to do. However, online school has really helped, especially online cultural events; a concept which was quite new to me.

Back when things were normal, my school would organise many events, shows and fundraisers as part of various campaigns. One of them was DISHA, an event organised by Special Olympics Bharat and my school. This event for special children is very close to my heart, as I was part of the core team that started it two years ago.

We would have onsite activities, sell products made by the special students, and do lots of dancing and singing. To encourage inclusion we played many games. In one such called “round robin”, a group of special friends and volunteers would choose an adjective, which defined themselves the best. We would be delighted when one special friend would call himself “ambitious” Ajay and another friend “sweet” Sushma. Their “never say die” spirit would motivate us. All in all, we cherished DISHA.

COVID-19 came as a storm and we were all struggling with how to conduct DISHA this year. But, our excellent management team of students and compassionate teachers were determined to make it happen. Maybe the world stopped, but we did not. We decided to take the event online and celebrate a virtual fair. But how will events, which are loved in the presence of a live audience, be conducted online? Once again technology came to our rescue. Everything is now just a click away. 

The enthusiasm of our special friends was clearly visible in the 350+ entries we received for the competitions ranging from mask making, salad making, painting, dancing, photography and so on. We saw an innovative flower pot out of cucumbers and basil leaves, as part of a salad presentation. We witnessed beautiful compositions that made us match our feet to the dance moves spontaneously! 

Some of the winning entries of Disha 3.0

We all created lasting memories. With the magnitude of excitement and life that was there in the online event, it almost felt like it was happening on stage right in front of us! The joy that lit up the faces of our special friends was remarkable – it motivates us to keep going.

The third edition of DISHA once again lived up to its motto and principle – a step towards harmony, peace and inclusion in the right direction.

Our final short and sweet account is from Anoushka Absan Kashyap, Class 9, Sentia the Global School, Hyderabad.

The good, the bad and the not so ugly

As a 14-year-old ninth grader, the lockdown isn’t necessarily something that I mind all that much. Although I hope that the situation gets better, that’s mainly because I don’t want people to die and suffer. Granted, it can get boring just staying at home, it isn’t all that bad. In fact, I am kind of enjoying myself in the lockdown.

Since school is now online, I can achieve every kid’s dream: extra sleep. I complete all my home work in between breaks which gives me extra time after school to revise or just relax.

I now finally have time to do a lot of things that I couldn’t earlier. My first love – art. Also, reading and cooking. In my pre-lockdown life, I was usually too tired or tight on time during the week, to do these or even hang out with friends and family.

I learn in the comfort of my own home which is a really good thing when I’m not in the best shape. Also, I have a lot of time to spend unproductively, watch some movies and T.V. shows, which is great. I have more time to be with my family. Me and my parents play many games together. I also have group calls with my friend which is really entertaining.

However, it does get kind of monotonous just being locked up in the house. There are times when I wish we weren’t in this situation. Like on my birthday. I am a ninth grader and just have two more years with my friends before we split up. So not being able to spend time wth them is a big let down. The constant fear of what could happen is always there. The area that I live in has quite a few people who were found to be COVID-19 positive. Luckily, there aren’t any in my building. It does get a little irritating to have to wear a mask and gloves every time I go out to retrieve a parcel or get some milk.

However, it doesn’t matter how I feel about the lockdown because either way, it is important and needed.

Other stories in this series:  
Off school – I: MusingsOff school – II: Early yearsOff school – III: Contemplations, Off school – IV: Mommy on, Off school – VI: Nature, Off school – VII: Time to choose

Featured image : Team LV
Story images : Authors

Standard Disclaimer : The story contributors are responsible for all views and facts provided in their posts. Lockdown Voices and its editorial team is not accountable for the accuracy of the information posted.

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