HENDRY COUNTY – As the brick and mortar opening date for Hendry County Schools quickly approaches, some parents are relieved while others are consumed with worry for their children. The pandemic has certainly changed the way many things are done at school and home. But, it hasn’t all been bad. Some parents and teachers have reported that the community is struggling in some ways while other aspects are renewed and in bloom.
Many families have been spending more time together since COVID-19 first began to shut much of community down. Barron Park in LaBelle, and Civic Park In Clewiston have been quite busy for the past few months. Parents and children have been seen walking hand in hand, enjoying fresh air, looking at trees, flowers, and even learning the names of butterflies as they navigate what seems like a whole new world. As online classes have begun, many families are able to log on and get through their lessons for the day, then head out on another walk or bike ride.
Most agree that in-person learning is important, that schools can provide socialization and learning experiences that aren’t found on a screen, but some parents and teachers have taken all of this time outside of the classroom to create a different way to learn.
“The procedure for teaching children is in the classroom. This just happens to be a dynamic learning environment. The classroom brings together students from different backgrounds with various abilities and personalities. This is all excellent for the aspiring student,” said retired science teacher, Gwen Patrick-Griffiths. “However, since we have been experiencing a pandemic the whole scenario has changed for the better.
“Before COVID-19 we were all comfortable with effective teaching strategies for the classroom,” added Griffiths. “We must mold the curriculum to the child, instead of molding the child to the curriculum, most of them won’t fit. Education should not be information oriented but life-oriented.” She went on to explain that while the pandemic has wreaked havoc in many ways, it’s also allowed us to use the content of our daily lives to teach our children.
“If we are to teach a math concept then the concept should be blended in with the lifestyle of the child, especially at the elementary level,” said Griffiths. “In the past we have packaged educational curriculums and attempted to cram them into the brains of children seated in neatly lined desks with a chalk board in front. We wonder why their scores are so low. In the PISA program (the program for international student assessments) United States children rank number 38 out of 71 countries in math and number 24 out of 71 countries in science.” She went on, “There is a strong need for change in the United States. We can’t just make amendments to our curriculum we must make drastic changes to it. We must of course maintain our classrooms as a subsidiary learning environment and also maintain our teachers at full force.”
Her views on education come from her many years as a science teacher at Clewiston Middle School, and from raising her own children.