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In the past year, I’m pretty sure every student has heard the following seven words in every academic announcement:
“In the comfort of your own homes.”
I loved learning, but I hated going to school. I was anxious about whether I could catch a jeepney to campus on time every morning, and I also hated how restrictive the current schooling system was for students like me. But during my free time, I loved watching TED-Ed animations, BBC shows, and Hank Green’s shenanigans on CrashCourse.
I thought remote learning was the answer to the inconvenience of school. It was a very enticing concept — I mean, learning, without having to go through the struggle of waking up at 4 am to prepare for it? I was completely sold. But, as that one meme went, “They had us in the first half, not gonna lie.”
The first few days of online school went well for me. I woke up early in the morning, bathed myself, and tried to look presentable. I was very organized.
At that time, I looked down on my classmates who refused to participate and turned their cameras off for the entirety of each class. “What’s the big deal?” I thought to myself.
It didn’t take long before it was my turn to be like them. Turns out, I was overlooking everything, including myself. Remote learning barely alleviated any of my struggles in school — it just resonated them.
I started losing it. My sleep schedule became inconsistent; I began experiencing neck and back pain every week; and I would sleep until the very last minute before class started. I got easily drained. I started questioning if I was even going anywhere with this.
Not one second went by without me thinking about schoolwork. It was almost as if I lived and breathed for school.
Remote learning is too invasive. I think the phrase “in the comfort of your own homes” is wrong in so many aspects.
Back then, our house was my safe haven away from academic commitments, a place where I could put my mind to rest. Going home was the most blissful moment of each day. But now that schooling was done at the place I considered a haven, I didn’t know what to do. All of a sudden, the place I’d always sought was taken away from me.
Not being able to stop thinking of school in my own room — even on my own bed – made me delirious. I didn’t know where to go to find peace.
I somehow came to terms with the fact that I’d become the very person I detested. I would occasionally turn my camera off in class; I would sleep during vacant times; and I would even sleep during lecture periods. My mind just felt so defeated.
Remote learning also damaged the way I perceived learning. I hated attending classes now. I didn’t possess the same love for learning as I did back then.
Despair engulfed me. During the early days of online classes, I was certain things would get better and was thrilled by the possibility that we’d have face to face classes as early as January. But that changed after having 10,000 COVID-19 cases a day thanks to a blatantly corrupt government. Now, I’m confident I’d have to put up with this for at least the next two years.
Many had anticipated that this mode of learning would be stressful. Some people had the luxury of being able to take the year off, but it wasn’t a sensible option for people like me. It was too risky. Even if I could take a year off for non-medical reasons, I would lose my ESC grant and not land a good scholarship, one which could help my already struggling parents pay for my tertiary education.
The last thing I would want to happen is my parents taking out a loan just to get me through college.
I don’t know if there will be any resolutions to this. I have too many questions begging to be answered. The only thing I can say for now is how much I yearn for things to get back to normal.
I want to experience educational milestones with my friends in person. I want to hear their voices again. The bursts of laughter during break times, the confusion on our faces whenever the teacher spewed out confusing terms, the street food mukbang sessions every dismissal time — I’d completely taken these moments for granted, and I wish I could have them again.
This experience is too solitary, too dreadful, and just damaging overall. Unfortunately, for now, the only thing certain is that it isn’t very comfortable learning “in the comfort of your own homes.” – Rappler.com
John Nickholai Echevarria is a Grade 9 student from Our Lady of Peace School in Antipolo City. He currently serves as the school publication’s editor-in-chief for the academic year 2020-2021.