How I make myself sick

"I make grandma sick" - about the madness of German education policy in times of the Corona

The German educational misery is based on decades of wrong and ideology-driven decisions by the responsible educational politicians in the federal states. But what is happening now in the course of the corona-related (or allegedly corona-related) school closings, comes on top. Face-to-face teaching has been largely replaced by online teaching. If it happens and works.

However, online teaching cannot be compared with traditional teaching, it is clearly inferior. In addition, it means that the actual teaching time is reduced by around half, 40% of the students have less than two hours of lessons a day. And the worse the children learn, the more important it is. The collapse in education for a whole year now has serious consequences not only for the educational development of the students, but also for their psyche.

As a general panacea, this type of learning is not suitable. No education politician can reinvent the human brain. It has remained unchanged in its basic structures and thus basic properties for thousands of years. And since there is no such thing as the “Nuremberg funnel”, that also means that the mechanisms for attaining education have in principle not changed for thousands of years.

The more the student himself is active with different brain activities, from the optical and acoustic pattern recognition, the sense acquisition and language processing in the cortex to the fine motor control of the handwriting in the spinal cord, the more sustainable the learning success. Working through it yourself, writing and calculating yourself, not just reading, is the ideal way to learn. You don't consume education, you actively acquire it. Repetition must also find its place. The decline in homework is counterproductive.

Passive consumption on the computer, on the laptop, on the tablet, remains little in the memory, at best has a supportive effect. Quickly googled, quickly forgotten, everyone should be familiar with that. Even the preprogrammed learning path in an app motivates well, but does not guarantee learning success. Because if a seemingly simple but necessary step is not understood, the app has to fail. Often enough, however, the student goes on and the chain of understanding breaks off. The student may try again, but it doesn't work again. A teacher can then still intervene.

Now a pediatrician, chief physician at a Neubrandenburg clinic, has spoken out on urgent questions about education and Corona. He jumps to the side of the teachers against the encroachments from educational policy and makes ideologized educational politicians look old through his specialist knowledge. The lecture is causing a sensation.

So far I have never supported the euphoria of the kind “Laptops and tablets in schools, then everything will be better” despite my affinity for technology. Smaller classes, more teachers, that brings more benefits than any technical upgrade. And the good old frontal teaching is still up to date. Point. At least if the teacher has enough time to deal with individual students. Teaching good students is easy, the more difficult the student, the more important a good pedagogical concept and the personality of the teacher are. This is necessary regardless of the technology used. On the contrary: too much technology distracts, learning takes place in the head.

This is exactly the notch that Doctor Crossbow hits:

In Silicon Valley, the boards have been taken out again.

The basics of optimal education are neurophysiological and have been established for thousands of years. This means: the more the student himself is active in the learning process, the more sustainable. "Working through it yourself" is the ideal way to gain knowledge. Passive consumption on the computer, on the laptop, on the tablet has at best a supportive effect. However, this type of learning is not suitable as a general panacea.

According to the pediatrician, people are pulling out the tablets even in Silicon Valley. There are recent studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calling for just this:

Only what you wrote stays in your head, not what you typed.

What is the best way to teach students? From my own practice: "Do-it-yourself, guided by the teacher". Writing yourself, traditionally by hand on paper, cannot be replaced by anything. And for the teacher: develop ideas live on the blackboard. Any kind of diagram is just a support. You have to be careful not to put too much information on it. Online schooling? That is a crutch and means that school time is halved.

The online education program means that “half of the children are not reached”. If a student does not understand something, I have to be able to approach him as a teacher, to influence him personally. A video image is not enough, it does not create a learning atmosphere. It works best in direct teacher-student contact. At least when it comes to complex and difficult content. I have not forgotten how many mathematics lectures passed me by during my student days, I only understood after working through the material myself.

Is there even a need to close schools and move on to online teaching? Obviously not. The incidence is simply too low, children are not the drivers of the pandemic and even in Sweden, where everything was left open and school lessons continued as normal, there were only a total of 15 sick children, which corresponds to an occurrence of 1: 130,000.

In Germany there have been three deaths among children that expired with Corona. One child was already in a palliative situation, another died of his heart problem. In all of Germany, only one child actually died of COVID-19 (with a high probability). Schools in Korea were also cautiously reopened, with an overall higher incidence. There was no increase in infections. The infection rate in children was never higher than the infection rate in adults, so the children were not the drivers of the pandemic.

The one death in Germany is sad, but not a sufficient reason to close all schools. "No COVID" does not work as a strategy here. There is simply no proportionality. And masks for primary school children are unnecessary, there is now even an official S3 directive that is binding for Ärzté, which she rejects. For younger students they are even harmful: children who only hear the language mumbled start to mumble themselves, as the doctor reports from his family. If contagion happens at all, it is from teacher to student, not among students. The classes are not a hotbed of infection. At most, masks are acceptable with restrictions among older students.

Children need constancy

And this constancy can best be achieved in a central location such as the school represents. Learning online is also of no technical benefit; there was an Oxford studio, which even taught the teachers in front Had to go back to the time of lockdown when schools reopened to catch up.

Masks are completely unnecessary in the lower grades. In the above, they are at least doubtful.

For me as a pediatrician, physical education with a mask is physical harm.

So if you want to do something good for the education system, there is only one conclusion: leave the schools open, leave the masks off (they are downright disastrous for elementary school students), test the teachers, but no more, and leave the online experiments ! What schools need is consistency and what everyone already knows: more money. more teachers, smaller classes. Laptops and tablets do no harm, but they also do not solve problems. Especially not online lessons.

There are children for whom school is the only sheltered place that they visit during the day.

For socially disadvantaged students, the consequences of school closings are particularly bad, because their home is often not a shelter for them.

What the long school closings will mean for the children in psychological terms cannot yet be foreseen. Apparently there are many fears. There are studies that report feelings of guilt and the fear of infecting adults. The children are (rightly) less afraid of their own illness.

So our schools need what they have always needed: neat rooms, blackboards and chalk, pens and paper. And enough teachers. We need a return to normal, while observing simple hygiene rules such as airing and hand washing. It can be done. Children who are afraid that they will make their grandma sick are a social declaration of bankruptcy. There is no rational reason for schools to close due to the corona epidemic.

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Posted in Education, Corona, Society, HealthcareEducational PolicyCoronaDr. Crossbow pediatrician

Published by Hans-Hasso Stamer

Graduate engineer for information technology, musician, politically affected. Show all posts by Hans-Hasso Stamer