Pankaj Agarwal, Founder & CEO, TagHive

Mr. Pankaj Agarwal is on a mission to transform classroom learning with Class Saathi – an affordable clicker solution to drive engagement and participation in classrooms. He is an inventor on over 50 international patents and was selected as one of the Top 10 Innovators in India in 2017 by MIT Technology Review and Mint. Prior to TagHive, Mr. Agarwal was with Samsung Electronics where his decade-long career spanned several professional capacities – hardware circuit engineer, strategic innovation manager, and an advisor to the CTO of Samsung. He is the founder and Chairman of the IIT Alumni Association of  South Korea. He is also a trained magician and is fluent in Korean. He has a Bachelor of Technology degree in EE from IIT Kanpur, MS from Seoul National University, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. 

 

Almost every conversation today has something to do with the pandemic or the way the pandemic has affected change in all sectors of a person’s life. Usually, we leave kids out of these conversations since children seem like their youth and childhood will preserve them from all such difficulties. However, the pandemic has taken everyone for a long drive with children losing out on the most fundamental aspect of their youth – the schooling experience.

However, the education sector really showed their dedication by ensuring that an alternative framework was set in place and the transition from physical classrooms to online, happened intuitively and fast. To ensure this system works impeccably parents were roped in. Let us examine what changes were catalysed by this move.

Many parents are still split between the choice of sending their children to schools once they open full time and continuing with their online classes. The reason is simple: There are no vaccines insights for children and it can be scary for parents to make this decision given that they are endangering their children by asking them to go to school. This is the same rationale that also suggests that children should be given a structured environment, as soon as possible, since there’s no foreseeable evidence to suggest that things could change.

To cut it short, parents are under a lot of pressure and whether schools remain online or they open full time, the roles of parents in the academic ecosystem have changed drastically and in all likelihood, for the time to come.

Firstly, children spend roughly half the time they did in school given that it is a health risk to force students to stare at computer screens for eight hours together. This means that teachers will have to enlist the help of the parents to extend school learning at home. Parents have to ensure that daily tasks happen as prescribed by the school. This means setting aside a good portion of the day to help students revise, make notes, complete assignments and plan for the upcoming classes.

Secondly, all parents are anxious about how well their children are going to learn. What we call a robust Indian schooling experience is one that requires an intense amount of time inside schools and tuition centres. Children are expected to put their noses to the grind and learn every day. While it may be a disagreeable way to approach learning, at least there was assurance in the fact that multiple stakeholders were involved in this process and parents could rest easy knowing that the gaps were being filled. Since that can’t happen, parents are required to be most vigilant.

During the peak of the lockdown, we had teachers sending us activity kits, project timelines, lesson plans and weekly timesheets by way of ensuring a framework that augmented online learning. This is the same experience most parents had to live through. In year two of the pandemic, the system has hardly changed. With 7 kids in my joint family, I have reasons to be concerned. All the adults in the family are trying to find a fine balance between the kids’ safety and “future readiness” by sending them to physical classrooms

So if the question is whether parents’ guidance over students has increased over the pandemic, the answer is yes, definitely it has.

The anxiety is real – most parents are still deliberating on sending their children back to school. While this doubt remains still at large, their children will definitely not be going back to school. Parents these days are hyper-vigilant about progress and not in a “you have to score extremely well in your semester finals” kind of way. But more of like “We want to ensure the children are learning something in every way possible” a more reasonable way.

This means increased parental control in the learning environment. Unlike earlier times, the communication channels between parents and school are a lot smoother and more regular. So parents are aware of what their children need to prepare for school, what their daily task lists look like and how much they need to cover.

All that aside, they also need to ensure regularly that their children are sitting in online classes, maintaining the decorum prescribed and performing their duties duly. This is the most nascent form of reinforcement. To be fair, the biggest challenge is not even preparing children for increased learning outcomes. It is, most basically, ensuring that the child is ready in the morning, is sitting with the camera on, can take notes on their own and does not cause any disruptions for the teachers and the rest of the class.

So to say, parental responsibility in this whole situation is at an all-time high and this may not be very good news for their children. Parents are doing what they can and to be fair, it actually promotes more transparency and accountability in the system.

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