Mr. Dan’s School for Wayward Children

Well, we went on spring break and they decided to let the kids stay off school for an extra week because of the coronavirus. Then they pushed the return to school back to April 15, saying we’d do “distance learning.” That’s when your kid gets your computer all day while you attempt to oversee their school work online.

This may result in families growing closer.

Unless they cancel the rest of the school year. Then it may result in bloodshed.

Personally, I think the kids are mainly enjoying being away from school, even though they miss their friends. I think the parents are adapting and will share ideas and tips with each other on how to improve the semi homeschool experience. And while there have been jokes about giving teachers a raise, let’s not forget most parents in this situation are trying to do two full time jobs – their regular job and the teacher’s job. They’re not getting paid for one of those and didn’t want to do that job. Those jokes about raises will go away with each passing week we’re doing this.

Wanna know what won’t go away? Distance learning.

A lot of parents are seeing classes and topics they don’t approve of. The ones with kids in college are wondering why they’re paying outrageous fees for books and room and board when their kid can obviously self direct their education at home for much less – and without hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt afterward.

Colleges did it to themselves. Many turned into pseudo playgrounds full of safe spaces and therapy bunnies to coddle their human revenue streams while the internet was exploding with more ways to learn things than there are grains of sand on the beach. You have to figure, after a while, the people footing the bill would notice.

This week, they will.

As comedian and magician Penn Gillette said, due to the internet, if somebody really wants to learn something, they can – often for free.

A lot of colleges will notice a drop in student registrations next year, and that trend will continue until they get their act together. (I think they will, but one never knows,)

Meanwhile, expect homeschooling numbers to jump dramatically because you just made us test drive something we didn’t want to do, and we may decide our kids are worth the investment.

It’s been a rich, valuable week, and I look forward to the next two weeks. We’ve done some fun FaceTime sessions with friends while having a spelling test, did a “distance lunch” where we got McDonald’s and visited a friend, eating in the front yard while staying ten feet away, and we’ve grown closer as a family and a community. We’ve rallied to help friends with old computers at home and we’ve done Zoom calls with our class and our teachers. It’s been interesting.

Times like these test our mettle, It’s a small challenge compared to what other generations have been called on to do. We aren’t storming the beaches at Normandy. LOTS of Parents have taken to Facebook to complain as loudly as possible about how unprepared our schools were for this. Lots of others have quietly gone about what Americans always do – getting the job done so things can return to normal, and maybe appreciating something in the process: an opportunity to spend a little more time with our precious kids before they leave the nests – which they will all too soon.

When I was a new dad with a tiny baby in my arms at the grocery store, complete strangers would come up and tell me, “They grow up fast. Blink twice and you’ll be walking her down the aisle.”

For some reason, that advice resonated. Maybe because my dad, older brothers and sisters, and high school friends with their own kids said it, too.

Many dreary eyed nights while I did a 2am feeding, I recalled their words and decided to do my best to enjoy all of it because it wouldn’t last. Those 2am feedings became my special time with my daughter. An investment in bonding. An example of selflessness and optimism she might carry forward one day. And now, ten years later, the friends and family members and strangers at Publix were right. She grew up fast.

I expect a few years from now, maybe sooner – probably sooner – the inconvenience of distance learning will be long forgotten. The memories of the ways we made it fun and special will remain with us forever.

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

11 thoughts on “Mr. Dan’s School for Wayward Children

  1. A lovely post about home schooling and your thoughts about it, Dan. I am also supervising home schooling for my boys but also under the umbrella of the school distance classrooms. It would be harder if I didn’t have that help and the teachers posting Youtube videos and such like. I think home schooling is much more intense as the kids doing have physical education, or break and social times, drama, art or any of those types of creative skills. I have had to put those in place at home. Lets see how this all pans out over the next few weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a Learning Mentor for a London school, husband to a class teacher for children with special needs, and a man who dreams of being a dad as soon as he possibly can, I see exactly where you’re coming from. I also look forward to deciphering the intricacies of home or distance learning, at least for my children’s early childhood, even after the world recovers.

    I would argue with those Facebook parents, but only because the education sector is too busy hopping around on the one foot it hasn’t shot itself in yet, creaking at the seams of the suit it’s desperately trying to fix in order to appear to have regular demands in order. It doesn’t. Even now, with the exception of a minority of schools, which I think have done the best they can by realising they can’t continue with business as normal, the sector tries to ignore how screwed it is and make matters worse by refusing to adapt to its new situation.

    The simplest solution is usually the best, right?

    That’s why it never stood a chance at preparing for this; most teachers have enough to stress about (more for their job safety than the children’s learning) without accounting for the added spectre of a world-changing pandemic. I saw it at work every day for five years (living it for one when I did teacher training) before I began social distancing last week. My wife is still beset by a clamour of overhyped virtual commands from her school’s senior leaders to keep teachers just as busy with old practices while working remotely, clinging to the usual mind-numbing, hair-fraying, unsustainable box-checking routines that demand ridiculously high input for a marginal increase in child enrichment. And most of those don’t even apply to her kids!

    The sector feels like it’s running scared of being proven obsolete in most ways. Maybe this is its reality check.

    This profession has enough underlying health conditions to qualify as vulnerable to Covid-19. It deserves to benefit from this crucial clinical research by parents and educators freed from the jostling-for-elbow-room-on-the-subway-system-you-shouldn’t-be-taking-anyway, afraid-to-have-someone-breathe-on-you lifestyle we’ve all been cycling around in until now.

    I hope the coming months lead to a cure that parents can be proud being a part of. A cure for Covid would be nice too, but I’ll settle for 1 out of 2 for now 😉


  3. With some folks, it’s almost like a competition to see who can tell you the most bad things they saw in the news today. I try not to be like that.

    I try to govern myself like this: This will all end soon enough. When it does, how do you want to look back on it? As a time when you stood tall and inspired people to be their best, or as someone who cowered in the gutter complaining about everything while doing nothing?

    I supposed it’s not a binary choice, but as for me, in times of crisis or challenge, I’ve always tried to be encouraging lead by example, and keep my complaints to myself. After all, a complaint voiced isn’t necessarily helpful. A complaint with a suggestion or solution attached is much better. Either way, you’re still complaining. It’s better to let someone else do that while you get things done.

    Like I said, when it’s done, how do you want to look back on how you acted? Because it will end in a few weeks. The way we’ve acted lasts forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My day job is filled with reading the results of a 21st century high school education. I can’t imagine getting into middle school if I wrote, “We wants to the stor to bye snakes” (we went to the store to buy snacks). People going to trade schools often make more money than a college graduate.

    A professor had a student who was gifted in a skill taught at a vocational school. He didn’t have the desire to study what the university offered, but his parents had insisted. The professor encouraged him to follow his dream — and caught hell for it. I know because that professor is my son and a busy electrician makes more money each year than he does.

    My SIL raised her grandson and homeschooled him. She found an “umbrella” homeschool service where accredited teacher were overseeing the curriculum once a month to ensure students were on track. He would have had a bonafide high school degree. She found this system through someone else who was home schooling. What the school system recommended was very expensive and didn’t provide a high school diploma. His dream was to live with his mom and dad. They got back together again when he was around 16 – 17. He went to live with them, they separated a few months later, and he never finished HS. When he took his GED, the testers were astounded at how much he knew. He made a very high score.

    The signs are all around us that our educational system needs a serious overhaul. I’m pleased that more parents — and students — are now seeing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really like my daughters school and I am not sure she’s had any teachers there that I didn’t really like a lot! But when it comes to the higher levels of education, high school and beyond, I went through all the way through and got an MBA. The number of good teachers I had along the way? Small. The stuff I learned wasn’t probably worth the price I paid. But we all do the best we can for our kids.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m happy to hear your child’s school has good teachers. In the 1980’s my son was in elementary school and had a bad experience. The horrible teacher wanted to hold him back a year. I said “hell no” had him tested. He belonged in the gifted program.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great encouragements, Dan! I love the picture of the little “school space” you guys have set up 🙂
    It’s been a little hairy here- We’re off till at least the 24th and I’m distance teaching one class, uploading enrichment stuff for 3 others, and I have my 3 kids “zoom” learning in various places around the house- but there ARE blessings in this. I’m so grateful for the wonderful teachers my kids have who are working their tails off to make this work- they’re amazing. More time together really isn’t a bad thing – it goes so fast! and our kids will remember the way we react to the tough and unexpected. Do we let the inconvenience and the struggles rule us, or focus on – like you said- the positives?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right. I think we’re showing them how to deal with a challenge. I hope I’m doing a good job and I hope when a challenge arises in my daughters life that she will rise to the occasion.

      I also think having kids in different grades with different curriculums and time requirements would be very much harder. Keep up the good work.

      Liked by 1 person

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