For the past three months, millions of high schoolers across the United States have been logging on online video platforms, like Google Meet and Zoom, to attend class. Many wake up later than they usually do, talk to fewer people, and some even slack off on their school work. While many argue that virtual schooling will not prepare high schoolers for college and our future life, I believe virtual schooling gives us a glimpse of what it will be like living independently.
Remote learning has given teenagers more time to sleep. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teens are recommended to have between 8-10 hours of sleep. However, a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 73% of teenagers do not get enough sleep. The consequences of this include poor performance in school, an inability to focus in class, and also depression. Speaking as a teenager myself, I am part of the majority of teenagers, as I usually do not get enough sleep on a typical school day on campus. As much as I hate to admit it, I know I am not alone in saying that procrastinating to finish assignments for the next day and watching YouTube videos late at night has greatly impacted my sleep schedule (sorry mom). However, for the past three months, I am able to get the necessary eight hours of sleep for me to function properly, as classes are asynchronous. As a result, I have been performing better in school, my mood has been optimistic, and I have been enjoying going to school every day.
Many schools across the country have been making their grading policies more lenient, as they have foreseen technological issues, and they acknowledge that there may be problems within the student’s family. Furthermore, teachers are not there to push you to do work. While this sounds bad at first, I think students have benefited from the lenient grading policies as there is more time for them to focus on and retain the material for each class, instead of just forgetting it all after taking a final exam. Additionally, the competitive and toxic environment of high schools has been greatly alleviated, and thus there is a lot less stress and anxiety put on students. Instead, students are learning to compete against themselves, not with others, and this environment ultimately makes students happier. Moreover, the fact that no one is pushing us to do anything prepares us for college, as it is up to you to get your degree and go to classes. Consequently, this is making students more independent and less reliant on others to do their work.
On the other hand, there are downsides to virtual learning. For instance, the pandemic has diminished social interactions among teenagers and teachers. While I have taken this to my advantage and used this time to focus on writing and other outside-of-school interests, I know that teenagers like me are missing out on a crucial period of bonding and are experiencing more loneliness than usual. However, we must remember that virtual schooling is only temporary, and thus we will be able to see all of our friends and teachers again sooner if we follow quarantine issues and stay safe. Furthermore, when teachers and school administrators are formulating a schooling plan for next year, they should create more student bonding opportunities to reduce the number of students feeling lonely and ultimately creating a happier and more supportive school environment.
Above all, we must be grateful for the teachers that are dedicated to educating their students in these trying times. While virtual schooling does have its downsides, it is still an opportunity for teenagers to shine. We, as teenagers, may complain that “school sucks,” but we must remember that we are lucky to have such brilliant teachers that teach us, and that we are lucky to even have school at all.