Phones in our house started ringing early today—it was the school department calling to let us know of the Google outage that was crippling the universe, including millions who woke up planning to attend school virtually.
The robocalls and emails alerted us to the outage and promised to let us know when it had been resolved. But they did not tell us whether or not we should wake up our kids for school—I inferred that to their minds, if there is no Google, there is no school.
Lord, I need some patience today.
I understand that waking up to an outage makes the day feel impossible, especially for teachers and students whose only mode of communication and teaching and learning is completely reliant on Google’s services. Scrolling through tweets and Facebook posts from teachers all over the country was a poignant reminder of how much they must rely on Google just to do their jobs, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. But I hope we can agree that learning should not come to a screeching halt because our computers won’t do what we want them to for a few hours.
Let’s have a contingency plan in place so students know what to do when technology fails. Because it will.
My children have an assigned book in their backpack — putting aside how long it is taking their classes to make their way through one book this year, at least it is an old fashioned book made of paper that they can hold in their hands. Why haven’t they been instructed to read that today? And they have notebooks for class. Why haven’t they been instructed to write something, ANYTHING, related to the book. Or anything else for that matter. My bar may seem low and some readers may accuse me of proselytizing about busy work—guilty as charged. While I wouldn’t characterize writing as busy work, I’d be happy with pages of math problems or vocabulary lists. I think I’d give my left arm for some grammar worksheets. Yes, remember grammar? Good because our kids don’t.
If we are to accept that we live at a time that a Google outage means NO SCHOOL, I’m not on board. Are you?
While I was writing, it appears that Google is now back up and running here in our house. Good news. But this episode is a mulligan and a warning that we need to be better at existing in the world and “doing school” without being 100 percent dependent on one tech giant.
Let’s start simple. Read a book. Write a chapter summary. I realize this may be blasphemy to some but it sure makes sense to me.