Distance learning grants new opportunities

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Polina Dashevsky

Though distance learning has its challenges, there are also benefits. Opinions Editor: Print Polina Dashevsky highlights the opportunities distance learning has given that she would not have experienced otherwise.

Polina Dashevsky, Opinions Editor: Print

Many of us have heard of the Chinese principle of Yin and Yang. In short, the principle seeks to explain how different and contrasting forces are often related. Yin and Yang are illustrated by a popular picture of a circle composed of two halves – one black and one white – separated evenly by a sinuate line. Each half has a small circle that is filled with the color of the opposite half. 

Yin and the Yang clearly demonstrate the interconnection between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ by illustrating that there is always a little bit of good in bad, and vice-versa. 

When I think of the Distance Learning Plan, which has been implemented by the school to ensure that learning continues despite the current pandemic, I think of the Yin and Yang. 

I understand that the present situation in the world is troubling – the wave of closures of public places and bans on social gatherings can be deeply upsetting. Furthermore, the temporary transition of classes from the physical classrooms to lessons via Zoom can feel surreal, and, at times, overwhelming. 

I undoubtedly miss the small interactions with my teachers and classmates, the lack of side conversations in class has allowed me to be more attentive and proactive.”

However, I have been able to spot the small white spec in the pitch-black half of the Yin and Yang. I recently came to terms with the new temporary reality by embracing the DLP and finding new ways to use and appreciate the free time – that I am always robbed of by the chaos of everyday life – to learn and reflect. 

I can hardly remember my daily routine before the lockdown. However, what I do remember is that it was rarely calm. I felt entrapped in the monotonous routine of everyday life: school, extracurriculars, homework and very little sleep. I hardly had any time to read, bake, spend time with my family, exercise or take care of myself. 

To be honest, upon hearing the news of the U.K.’s lockdown, soon followed by the school’s closure, I was deeply frustrated. I could not come to terms with such an abrupt change to my routine. However, the implementation of the DLP has pushed me towards the realization that the abundance of free time may not be as bad as it seems. 

At first, I struggled to find ways to fill my free time; yet, I soon found and rediscovered various activities to keep myself entertained and simultaneously productive. 

 For instance, I reincorporated exercise into my day. During the school year, I would make countless excuses to justify my lack of motivation to workout. I constantly felt that I did not have the time nor the energy to exercise.

The closure of the gyms across the U.K. has indeed pushed me to realize that working out can be done anywhere, by anyone. For instance, I began watching 10-minute workout videos on Youtube, which require no equipment and can be done from the comfort of one’s own bedroom. I have been engaging in such workouts continuously, and I have even started to exercise during breaks in between my Zoom lessons. 

Furthermore, I was even able to re-discover my passion for running since the summer of Grade 7. I had initially abandoned running because I decided to invest my time into activities that seemed more valuable at the time. Therefore, being faced with this much free time has allowed me to create a healthy daily routine and rediscover the sport. If it wasn’t for the lockdown, the chances of me going for a run or going to do crunches in my backyard would have been close to zero.  

In addition to reaccepting sport into my life, I also began to engage in activities such as cooking and baking. Similarly to how I started working out, I started to watch baking and cooking videos on Youtube, which proved to be very informative. I soon found that making any type of meal can be relaxing and also fun. It also gives me a good reason to take a break in between studying to bond with my family over a home-made meal or dessert. 

The implementation of the DLP has pushed me towards the realization that the abundance of free time may not be as bad as it seems. ”

A rectified sleeping schedule is one of the other benefits of the DLP. When physically attending school, I could never prioritize my wellbeing over my responsibilities as a student. I wouldn’t think twice about sacrificing my sleep to finish work, or doing some extra revision for an upcoming test. 

An improved sleeping schedule under the DLP has simultaneously enabled me to be more alert and present when attending school on Zoom. I finally feel more focused during class and when studying for all my assessments. 

The consequent improvement in my concentration span has allowed me to minimize procrastination, in addition to developing better learning habits. Even though I undoubtedly miss the small interactions with my teachers and classmates, the lack of side conversations in class has allowed me to be more attentive and proactive. I feel 100% focused on the tasks I have at hand, which has resulted in better outcomes. I feel more satisfied with the work I submit, as I know that the score would truly represent my academic capabilities; there are no extraneous determinants, such as the absence of time, distractions and/or lack of sleep.  

The current situation is not perfect. Many of us will continue to miss the vibrant, and, at times, chaotic school environment. But learning to identify each side of the Yin and Yang will undoubtedly help us get through the challenges of our time.