Editorial: Should Seabury Live Die?

Lyle Griggs, Copy

Since last March, it seems like every one of my editorials has been COVID-19-related.  Just like everyone else, I’m tired of the pandemic and of those tired editorials. Still, I have one more relevant issue to discuss before I head out: the future of remote instruction.

Some changes made to adapt to the pandemic may turn out to be permanent; some are overwhelmingly positive, and we should consider changing our behavior to reflect that. But our rapid, necessary switch to virtual instruction was not a happy accident. As well as Seabury handled the situation, this past year demonstrated the ineffectiveness of remote learning.

Although most of us have been in person since September, virtual instruction and learning didn’t stop entirely with our return to campus last fall, as we all know. Given the circumstances, administrators should absolutely have granted that dispensation; health concerns should come first. Still, my experience and that of my peers confirms that virtual class just doesn’t work.

Although tech issues can disrupt virtual learning environments, these hiccups are now minimally disruptive. The main problem is with the classroom environment that virtual instruction creates. I’ve experienced both sides of the virtual coin–as a student on Seabury Live and as an in-person student with a virtual teacher–and I know that I’m much less focused and motivated in both environments. Distractions are everywhere; on Seabury Live, I could go make mac and cheese during class, for example–something that I could not do in the physical classroom. Moreover, virtual teachers aren’t in control of their classrooms, and I have a hard time avoiding distractions without an instructor physically in the room. I’m far from the only student who has struggled with this.

Although this year’s circumstances were certainly extenuating, virtual instruction and learning should be preserved in the future only as an option of last resort. We need the disciplined, focused learning environments that fully in-person classrooms can provide.