Pandemic: A Catalyst for Change

I think it is fair to say that most of us are sick of the national debacle that is our nation’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. Karens screaming about masks, a mounting death toll, and seemingly endless hours of house arrest is enough to give even the sanest of folks an eye twitch.

However, I think that we have a golden opportunity to make some really drastic, really positive changes to the way that we run things as a country, which is hella exciting. However, change doesn’t come easy to individuals much less a nation with an ego problem, so I believe that we as a people might actually have to *gasp* get involved! It is much easier to get involved when you have a clear vision of what you want, so I have some suggestions:

EDUCATION

The first thing that I think we should look at as a nation is our schools. Our educational system can be described as a “factory model” that hasn’t changed much, if at all, throughout the years. In fact, Hack Education quotes David Brooks as saying “The American education model…was actually copied from the 18th-century Prussian model designed to create docile subjects and factory workers.” As a teacher, I can attest to how much of school is spent trying to get kids to comply, comply, comply.

This pandemic has given us a golden opportunity to completely rethink how to structure schools, what to teach, and why we teach it. I have some suggestions:

  • Instead of requiring kids to be in a set amount of hours of school per day, how about we require them to actually be proficient at a specific level? Then, once they have reached said level via multiple demonstrations, they either a) move on to something else or b) are prepared to help teach those who are struggling with the skill that they have already easily mastered. This not only ensures that students are actually learning versus just counting the minutes or wasting time going through something they are already proficient at, it also helps perpetuate an aura of student responsibility and involvement in the school. Besides, the best way to solidify your skill set is to have to teach it to someone else.
  • Another change should be the content that we teach in school. It feels like school has been pushing college readiness in an ever increasing fashion, and lets face it, not everyone is college material–and that is a GOOD thing! The loss of shop classes, art classes, theater, music, Home Ec, and so many other “non-core” classes is such a blow to the overall development of our nation’s youth as a whole. There are those students, yes, who thrive on a rigorous academic course of study, but they most certainly do not make up the majority of the student body. And with our current set up, we are failing those non-academically minded kids.
  • A third change that the United States should consider would be the structure of the school day. The bell schedule is quite effective for the style of learning that we have now, but if we want to move to a more effective, more dynamic learning program, the rigid structure will have to be rethought. Hybrid schedules, fully online schedules, and college style in person schedules could all be taken into consideration.

THE WORKFORCE

Another aspect of our lives that needs to change is the way that we handle the workforce in America. During this pandemic, most, if not all of the workers who were able have been working from home. If you live in a densely populated area like Los Angeles or Orange County, you have surely seen the difference in the roadways, especially when it comes to rush hour or the lack thereof. In a words, it has been AWESOME.

But there are other perks to letting employees work from home–businesses spend less on office supplies, the environment gets a welcome break from constant fumes, and employees are happier with the flexibility. Permanently allowing employees to work from home would be a boon for the environment and America’s families.

Another notion that I believe the United States should employ is that of Universal Basic Income. Brought into mainstream popularity by Andrew Yang during his run for the Democratic nomination, UBI would a payment of a set amount to each American citizen 18 years of age and older. It would take the place of (or be a choice offered instead of) many of our social programs like welfare or food stamps. The fantastic thing about UBI is that it does not fall into the trap of disincentivising work like many of our other programs do due to the fact that you receive it every month regardless of anything else. Besides raising the standard of living for everyone, it would also allow some to focus more on passion projects or creating art versus trying to scrap by at a job that they hate. This in turn would do wonders for our nations mental health.

CONCLUSION

This post merely brushes the surface of the many things that need to change in America, and hardly gives the two subjects I touched on the deep unpacking they deserve. However, I really hope that U.S. citizens are not so desperate to get back to ‘normal’ life that they rush right past the enormous opportunities that are waiting to be taken.

I highly encourage everyone reading this to take an active role in creating the change that you want to see in yourself, your inner circle, and the community in which you live. Change will not simply happen to us by mistake, we must pursue it with intention and purpose. I for one am excited for the possibilities, and I urge us all to take the initiative to create the world in which we wish to live to the fullest extent possible.

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