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We Will Never Go Back

  • Blog Post
Dr. Sean Hamer

As we have settled into the normalcy of our pandemic lifestyles, we know that the world has changed dramatically from what we've known and cherished just 10 months ago. In reaction to the crisis, every area of our lives has become more creative, innovative, reactive, and speculative. As a school, we were forced to adopt new practices and ways of being to support our ability to fulfill our mission of educating students and sustaining a community of connection and support. In reflection, we can see that we were forced to advance the ways we think about delivering instruction, supporting situations that we had never considered before, and keeping care of the individual at the center.  What I've recognized in this short time, whenever I get a moment to truly reflect, is that we will never go back.

There are events that happened in our lives that change us at our core, disrupt our belief systems, shift our outlook on the world, and inform our behaviors and mindset for the remainder of our lives. This is one of those moments.  As we prepared to reopen and had to share with families and students all the practices of wearing masks, washing hands, using sanitizer, staying six feet apart, and doing testing, the feelings connected to our anxieties appeared new to me at first glance.  I   had a conversation with my mother who shared with me that disruption in school because of world events isn't really new to us. As an elementary student in the 1950’s, her school had drills where all the students had to shelter under desks in preparation for the possibility of atomic bomb strikes. That was 60 years ago and students had to confront the realities of loss and pain as part of a regular drill at school.  I also reflected on the fact that my grandfather never drove a vehicle again after World War II and that he saved every penny and was an extremely frugal individual. I learned that he drove a van in World War II through areas that had minefields and that experience changed his mindset forever. He grew up during the Great Depression and stood in food lines. He never wanted to be in a situation where he would be without like he had experienced as a child.

And now we are having similar experiences. We are facing challenges that have accelerated the adoption of lifestyle habits that many countries around the world had institutionalized decades ago. We’ve also adopted instructional and community building tools and technology that has changed us permanently. We have realized not only the challenges of these times but also the benefits of some of the tools created. Many advancements due to the health crisis will permanently be part of our lives moving forward. The ability to communicate locally and globally at home, school, and in every industry has shifted our expectations of connectedness. Interestingly enough, this reinforces the theories of Margaret Wheatleyin her book, “Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World”. Her premise, pre-pandemic, that we live in a time of chaos, requiring new ideas, new ways of seeing, and new relationships that have become a daily reality. She shares the premises that:

  • Relationships are what matters- even at the subatomic level
  • Life is a vast web of interconnections where cooperation and participation are required
  • Chaos and change are the routes to transformation

I recognize the harsh reality of our journey during the past year and that we will all move forward in a new existence ripe with lessons learned, and updated habits of mind. And while we now have the possibilities to return to former levels of social connectedness, we will never truly go back.

Dr. Sean