The Grand Social Experiment

In addition to the overwhelming grief, sadness and frustration we are all feeling as we practice social distancing, we are now undergoing a grand social experiment: how do we keep moving forward while trying to stay apart?


This begins with distance learning. Think about it, school-age kids no longer have the structure of the school building, and there is no clearly defined timeframe for when they will have that structure back. Like many people, when I first found out that the school buildings were going to be closed, I had a few days of panic not wanting my kids to fall behind. Then I realized that every family with school-aged kids is in the same predicament.


Those of us who have reliable internet access and a good space for working are fortunate that we are able to move our schools and non-essential office work online in this way. Recently my thirteen-year-old son speculated that we would not have been able to have e-learning or distance learning in 1970. I gently reminded him that I wasn’t yet born in 1970. But then I thought about what my son said, and I suggested that we would not have had the capability to work and learn from home in this manner even ten years ago, let alone when I was thirteen…


So here we are now – undertaking this grand social experiment in distance learning, zoom meetings, and non-essential people staying home. There are so many things that we’ve taken for granted – being able to move freely, going out to dinner or a bar, attending sporting events.


So…what hypothesis can we make about these new experiments? For that you might need an actual social scientist. No one truly knows the overall impact of these grand social experiments, and anyone who says they do is a fool.


I’m fairly certain that my kids will not fall “behind” – they are both naturally curious and will find the rhythm to their days that allows them to get their work done. But what of the kids who don’t have the structure at home to enable them to learn?

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