By Kayla Bleier
It seems as if everyone is out of school and out of work. Even though school is still in session, the online classes just don’t cut it. We, as a general working group of people, are less productive at home. Due to the nationwide quarantine, students ranging from prepubescent middle-schoolers to legally adult seniors are losing critical experiences.
Sitting in our bedrooms and at our desks, the tasks at hand seem so far away. Everyone now has so much more free time that it seems impossible not to lounge around. Despite the never-ending list of things we want to do, time ticks by, and the checkboxes remain empty. Being at home creates a feeling of comfort and relaxation, which makes sense. Home is where we really feel like ourselves.
Despite the difficulties, the lack of physical school is not a lack of classroom learning. Teachers can still show their students the new algebra formula or teach the history of the Golden Age of Spain. What we as a collective community are lacking is interpersonal learning. The very definition of ‘social-distancing’ is to be socially remote. No matter how many Facetimes, Zooms, or Google Meet calls one attends, they will never be the same experience as sitting in a room with the person to whom you’re talking. At first, the distance seems to be an inconvenience. Weeks roll by, distance continues, and we begin to feel the absence of even subtle but personal interactions. As we sit, alone, with assignments piling up and the Internet unrestricted at our fingertips, what will stop us from choosing the distracting and instantly less boring option? Learning from home is not the same as gaining knowledge from Khan Academy or studying for the duration of the long weekend. The classroom experience is deeper and far more impactful.
Alongside issues with productivity come arguably more harmful consequences. Sitting at a computer and staring at a projection of a classroom, the tall kid isn’t tall anymore, quiet jokes will be heard not just by neighbors but by everyone, eye contact and unspoken and untyped conversations are lost, and much more. These interactions allow students to develop relationships and form memories that they will keep long after school. If we, as students, wanted nothing but lectures, papers, and problem sets, we might as well have chosen home-school from the start. Barrack is valuable not just for how it educates but for how it fosters friendships.