MASSENA — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said this week that the state is collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a blueprint to “reimagine education in the new normal.”
The state and foundation will look at several areas to consider what education should look like in the future including, “How can we use technology to provide more opportunities to students no matter where they are?” and “How can we provide shared education among schools and colleges using technology?”
What that means for the future of education remains to be seen, but Massena Central School Superintendent Patrick Brady said it’s too early to make a guess.
“I would need to hear more about what the governor means by reimagining,” he said.
Mr. Brady said students are reacting positively to the remote learning that was necessitated by the arrival of the coronavirus.
“The remote learning unleashed a great deal of creativity for our students and staff, experiences that will enhance education when they get back to what the normal is going to be,” he said.
Mr. Brady said the district was prepared for remote learning before it became necessary.
“We’ve been designating considerable resources to improving technology in our instruction — smart boards, Chromebooks, Google Classroom, i-ready. When the pandemic occurred, we were in a very strong position to do remote learning. We could provide every child with a Chromebook,” he said.
In addition, he said, teachers and staff joined students in stepping up to the challenge.
Still, he said, remote learning may not be the best way to continue educating students.
“I do not believe that remote learning on its own can replace the personal attention that great teachers provide in the classroom,” Mr. Brady said.
He said remote learning could take away some of the necessary socialization students receive in public schools.
“I’m hearing loud and clear, they want to be in school, they want to be with their friends, they want to be with their teachers and in the classrooms learning. I don’t think a remote system is going to be beneficial to students. Research is clear, a teacher in the classroom has the most impact on student learning,” he said.
Some students also don’t have access to the internet, or the service might be spotty.
“Not all home environments are conducive to focused and sustained learning,” Mr. Brady said. “We have a lot of questions. Reimagining education, what does that mean? We’re certainly open to ideas.”