April 17, 2020
It was music class that finally drove Melissa Mawn over the edge, The Boston Globe reports.
She already had been slavishly arranging her quarantine workdays around the expectations of her three tykes’ math, English, and science teachers— surrendering her work station to their Zoom meetings.
Now, the music teacher was proposing a “fun activity” and Mawn’s thoughts immediately turned to the recorder—the piercing woodwind instrument that her twin ten-year-old boys are learning to play this year.
“I mean, we’re stuck here in the house, and I cannot have recorder class for an hour,” Mawn told the Globe. She is, after all, working full-time from the Wilmington, Massachusetts, home she shares with her children and husband, and her in-laws.
“We have to live here and, like, not kill each other,” she all but whimpered, “and the recorder is definitely going to knock one of us over the edge.”
It was during the fourth week of school closures that parents truly began to crack, the news outlet reports. The state’s experiment in home schooling may have been interesting for a week or two, but as social media rants reveal, many parents have become fed up, disenchanted—even disconsolate.
Some parents even have begun resisting the deluge of demands coming from their children’s teachers.
“It’s just overwhelming. Everybody’s overwhelmed,” said Mawn, who aired her frustrations last week on a Facebook page for Wilmington residents.
“I understand a love for the arts but in a state of emergency, I can’t teach music and gym,” she wrote. “My children can play outside, in their own backyard or ride their own bikes in our driveway. That will have to count for gym.”
Around the same time, Sarah Parcak, a renowned archeologist from Maine, was drafting a lengthy, expletive-filled Twitter thread reiterating what she’d already told her son’s teacher: First grade was officially over for the year.
“We cannot cope with this insanity,” Parcak wrote. “Survival and protecting his well being come first.”
The parent rebellion is not at all fun for teachers, who have found themselves in a no-win situation since schools were closed due to the threat of the coronavirus in mid-March. First, they were hounded by some hard-charging parents—who expected more daily structure and an immediate and effortless switch to online instruction. Teachers had to quickly develop new coursework and ways of presenting it, and to jet into families’ living rooms via Zoom video conferencing, where their every move would be scrutinized.
Now, with teachers more regularly holding classes online, parents are pushing back, saying the expectations are unmanageable—particularly for younger children who can’t handle the technology on their own and need a parent by their side, The Globe notes.
Keri Rodrigues, a Somerville mother who heads the National Parents Union, an education advocacy group, said many parents are in survival mode—having suddenly lost their income or begun working at home to maintain it—and they shouldn’t feel pressured about academics at the moment.
“Do not destroy the fabric of your family because you’re trying to please a school district,” Rodrigues advised. “We are living through a generational unprecedented crisis. Get your family through it without hating each other.”
Like Mawn, Rodrigues has three children and is fielding an onslaught of e-mails from each of their teachers in each of their subjects. Some point the students to assignments on Google Classroom. Others direct them to activities on private educational websites that require additional sign-ups and the management of yet more passwords.
“My kids are in first and second grade. They’re barely tying their shoes, let alone remembering all of these different passcodes for all of these different websites,” Rodrigues told the Globe.
As for Mawn, she is picking and choosing her academic battles now, even—oops—missing the memo that one of her son’s Zoom classes was moved to a different day this week.
“The e-mails are killing us,” Mawn told the news outlet. “I think it would have been easier if, every Monday, we got a letter saying … ‘We want to do those 10 things this week.’ Just one e-mail, please.”
She understands that the teachers have never handled a pandemic before. But could they not streamline the assignments?
“If I wanted to teach,” Mawn added, “I would be a teacher.”
Research contact: @BostonGlobe