Wells: Are there projections on how many schools might close?
Harris: You’ve been ranging projections from dozens to hundreds, but I believe people ought to exercise caution. Education is resilient.
Wells: So you don’t believe this is the conclusion of a large proportion of colleges in this nation?
Harris: I do not believe this is the conclusion of a high proportion of colleges, but I really do think that colleges are deluding themselves about what the fall will really look like their capacity to contain anything that might occur on their own campus.
Hamblin: Can it be possible that teachers will be remote and the pupils will be seated in the classroom?
Harris: That is a possibility, and a few colleges have offered waivers for faculty who have health issues so that they can instruct liberally. But I think you need to look to the men and women who are going to be tasked with cleaning the residence halls and courses to the staff, past the faculty\. They’re consistently being thrown into this situation.
Wells: Have there been thoughts on what education might look like for another couple of years that appear to rationally account for the doubt that we have about the pandemic but continue to find ways to actually do the important job of instruction?
Harris: There was a model of how to adapt to this kind of reality for decades, and that’s what community schools have done. They have a mix of in-person classes and online courses\. Students don’t live on campus. This was kind of this hybrid model already. A whole lot of community schools could adjust very quickly when America kind of came into the collective understanding that oh, that is a significant thing.
Wells: This only seems like a disaster. Am I wrong?
Harris: No, I do not think so. There have been a great deal of schools that have stated,”We are going to receive our pupils to sign pledges that say,’With this next six months, you’re likely to go to college, you are likely to get this education, and you are just going to accept a few of these new restrictions that we’ve set in place for you. We’d like you men to not have parties. ”’ And without an enforcement mechanism there, I really don’t see how that actually works. Colleges had a challenging time quitting underground parties prior to the pandemic.
Hamblin: Our colleague Derek Thompson has laid out this idea for me before that faculty is giving people three things, almost in equal pieces. A third of it is what you understand. A third of it’s the network which you construct. And the thing is what which you have. Should schools be focusing just on that very first third?
Harris: The response is… likely. There are a lot of things that schools have about exactly what their objective is to reconsider. And if the purpose is to educate students there should be a reconsideration of that education is being delivered.
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