The summer of e-learning and superheroes


Ambica Sachin


Anamika Chatterjee

Published: Thu 10 Sep 2020, 10:44 AM

Last updated: Mon 21 Sep 2020, 2:05 PM

'Is the teacher a superhero?' asks my five-year-old with all the nonchalance he can muster up. It was meant to be a put down for me, I'm certain, because just a nanosecond earlier I had chastised him for trying to strike up a conversation with me, in the middle of his e-learning session.  
His reasoning being, of course, that the teacher could not hear him, since his computer was on mute.  
Just because you have hit the mute button, doesn't mean she can't see you, I can't help but respond, still smarting under his smug look.  
And yes, teachers are superheroes, just like parents, which he will find out in due course of time.  
Spiderman may be able to crawl up the tallest tower and rescue a man from atop a burning building and Superman can perhaps travel at the speed of light and change costumes at lightning speed as well.
But can they cook and serve breakfast, supervise home-school lessons, scroll through work emails, counsel a harried co-worker, and hit the unmute icon in time for you to respond to the teacher's all-important question? At the same time? Nope. I didn't think so. 
Ever since we decided to opt for the more challenging and safer e-learning sessions in the new academic year, we should have known we were in for some 'home lessons' ourselves. Most parents can vouch for the fact that attempting to impart any kind of wisdom to a youngster can only result in a bigger learning for the adult in the relationship. So it is at our house.
From no-eating-on-the-sofa to no-watching-TV-while-seated-at-the-dining-table, rules are thrown back at us so smoothly and subtly at times, we ourselves are left stunned at the speed with which the tables have turned within the four walls of our fiefdom.  
The past week has witnessed an upheaval of sorts at our house. While I confess part of me misses waking up at the crack of dawn and making a mad dash to the bus stop, this new routine has demanded we delve within to tap into our deepest reserves.  
Come to think of it, much like a superhero, I have to admit.  
Just the other day, seeing me scroll through my office phone, while his online class was going on, he had quietly reminded me that "you can't catch two rabbits at the same time, you know." A proverb taught by a well-meaning father after seeing him eating lunch, while watching television and trying to build a LEGO robot at the same time. I actually would have thought that was a cool multi-tasking skill to imbibe from a young age. But concentration is the name of the game we are seeking to instil in our young one right now. 
Having made the long and hard decision to home school him this term, with all its accompanying drama, it dawned on us pretty quickly that our kid thinks this is a 'family' event, whereby one of us is constantly shadowing him to ensure if he misses any lesson from his online class, we are there to reinforce it. 
From tech issues to loo breaks, hunger pangs, and SOS calls for water, there are distractions galore while a class is going on. And when the adult 'classmate' is not as attentive as they are expected to be, the 'different strokes for different folks' idiom doesn't hold good and we are quickly brought back to the table.
Even as I fidget in my seat, trying to surreptitiously check my WhatsApp, and feign interest in his class, the superhero in me awakens once again. I attempt to slink away from the 'classroom' yet again, but am called back with a loud reminder that the "teacher is in".
It's Arabic, I realise to my horror, not exactly my forte. So I vow to utilise my superhero powers and learn along with my first grader (Ana bekhair), and after constant reminders that he needs to pay attention just like me, otherwise he won't have any idea what's going on in class, it's 'quiet time'. "Since I didn't pay attention, and you did, you do the homework," I'm told glibly by the first grader who has by now folded his arms and seated himself comfortably on the sofa, with his gaze turned firmly away from the screen. 
And so the home schooling continues.

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