Throughout this historical time of complete digital learning, one question has plagued my thoughts; Is school easier now than when I was actually in a school building?
Extracurriculars pushed aside, as I have had the fortunate opportunity to continue pursuing my passions outside of the classroom, let’s compare the two.
A typical school day for me lasts four hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. I am still counting our designated “lunch period,” because I scarcely have time to both eat and make my lunch during those measly 30 minutes. Instead I confine myself to my desk chair and continue my work. Wednesdays we have off. Though many students still attend meetings during that time, taking away from their time to catch up and recuperate.
In theory, this sounds like less schooling than our typical eight hour school day; however, I would typically have one to two hours of homework every night, even with my five AP classes junior year. Now I have at least four hours of homework. One hour is dedicated to each class if not more. Sometimes I find myself prioritizing three classes instead of four just to be able to get my work done well in each one.
In person school
A typical day of in person school would have started at 6:30 a.m. to give me time to get ready and drive to school. School then started at 7:45 a.m. and would go until 2:35 p.m. This included the thirty minute lunch break given around 11 a.m. and our thirty minute morning blocks scheduled for advisory or extra work time (I have forgotten what they were called, don’t come at me it’s been almost a year since I’ve heard the bell dismissing me from class). Just kidding, someone informed me that it was called ELT.
After school I would come home, and have on average maybe one to two hours of homework for all of my classes in one night. As always this was not a fixed number, sometimes I wouldn’t have any, other times I would have four hours of work, but I have to say that the hours of homework were more consistent.
The HHS curriculum wasn’t intended for virtual learning. Asking teachers to completely change their teaching methods to fit a virtual method is hard, especially when they’re used to teaching material in a certain way. However, this isn’t like a Virtual Virginia course where the teachers have been conditioned to teach the material online for years.
Overall, it’s hard to quantify both, but I am inclined to say that online school is slightly more difficult. From the AP teacher panic at the beginning of the semester, to the uneven workload and unforeseen technological difficulties, I have never had less motivation to work hard in school.
Looking at the statistical side of this question, it agrees with my conclusion. A higher percentage of students are failing classes this year than any other year on record. This is from data pulled in the Harrisonburg City Public School district and national resources.
In the end, like many other students across the nation, I have learned how to do school online. I’m privileged to have fast internet access and caring teachers that want me to succeed.