Returning to School: the Difference Between Online and In-Person Learning

Heroin in Highschools

There are rules in my school that don’t really make sense. They somehow seem normal though, probably because I’m a senior and I know how it goes. But, after over a year at home, they suddenly feel weird and unnecessary. 

I spent my entire junior year as an online student. I wanted to protect my family and myself from COVID-19 and, honestly, I liked being online. Online school was full of freedom. I created my own schedule and did my work at my pace and picked up new hobbies and passions. I never had to write an excuse for my days off and there was no dress code. There was only learning and growing. The return to school, however, which I imagined as a return to normalcy, doesn’t feel normal at all. Instead it is a return to rules and chaos.

I pulled into my school parking spot about 15 minutes before school, prepared to finish my coffee and wait for the bell. But I learned, weirdly enough, that sitting in your car before school begins is against the rules. My friends who wear, well anything, are dress coded. Most fashionable clothing is against the rules. If I’m late to school I can’t just be a few minutes late to my class, it’s against the rules. I have to wait for my next class to begin. I can’t take medicine for a headache and I can’t ask too many questions because, of course, it might sound like I’m being defiant. That’s against the rules. 

Old Normal

This is all normal. It’s not new and it’s not a surprise. But, after the joys of having control over my time, it feels completely different. It’s degrading and depressing. None of these rules actually improve the school. They don’t help me learn. They keep me out of class. This distracts me from learning. Ultimately, hindering me from functioning like a human. 

If schools want to prepare us for the future, prepare us to make our own decisions and organize our time, then they have to start treating us like humans. They have to give us the chance to make mistakes and do things wrong. Instead, the rules suffocate and prevent students from learning how to navigate the real world. The future is here and we are not prepared. The future is here and all we know how to do is to cover our shoulders and keep quiet. 

I have a headache. I wish I could take some medicine.

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