I was fortunate enough this week to be present when our senior philosophy class had a Zoom meet with Dr Lani Watson, the Leverhulme fellow in the Philosophy Department at Edinburgh University. It struck me as such an incredible opportunity for these pupils of ours to be developing their interest in Philosophy with one of the world’s foremost experts in Epistemology and the Philosophy of Questioning, and to be able to do it using the power of Zoom and without the need to waste time or resources travelling there. In the past we didn't even think of operating like this, and now we do. It struck me that there might just be some small silver linings to our current situation?
The second national lockdown has understandably been met with dismay in many parts of the country. Whilst it may well be necessary from a public health perspective, the negative impact on the economy, social lives, mental health and a myriad of other aspects of daily life is considerable. The impact on all young people has the potential, in my view, to be even more severe. It is therefore of huge significance that the Government has clearly stated that schools should remain open at this time and in the future. The importance of the continuity of education cannot be overstated and the deeper understanding of this amongst parents and pupils across the nation is perhaps another unintended positive consequence of the pandemic and lockdown. At a time when everyone craves human contact and a strong community, schools are well placed to provide exactly that, all within a safe, secure and supportive environment.
So while the past term at school has not been without its challenges, this has been balanced by a palpable feeling of good fortune that both pupils and teachers are able to come to school almost as normal. There are still many things that we miss; competitive team sports, singing and larger group activities to name but a few. But, considering we are faced with a global health pandemic, we feel grateful that we are at least together and enjoying the daily contact with others that so many are now lacking in their lives.
We often run the risk of taking so many things in our lives for granted, and it should not take a global pandemic to make us realise their importance in our lives. I pray that this deeper understanding of which things in life are truly important remains one of the silver linings that outlives the current crisis.
John F Gilmour