Opinion
Student Well-Being Opinion

Now Is No Time for Spectator Democracy

By Jesus A. Tirado — March 23, 2020 3 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It is safe to say that social distancing has become part of our new daily lexicon. It’s important to know that this is saving people’s lives, but I want us all to recognize that in this world of social distancing, we do not need to continue our practice of spectator democracy that keeps us sitting on the sidelines while others make the important decisions for us.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing is a form of civic duty, something we are doing to protect the most vulnerable of our society. We’ve given up March Madness for social media tags like #stayhome and #stayhomesavelives that build solidarity around our shared stories of staying in. And while we think about what we’ve lost, we are hoping that we can hold on to something much more important: each other.

Let's use our social distancing time to become better and more informed navigators of the world."

When we are all stuck at home, it may seem like the wrong time to talk about political and civic engagement. After all, attending campaign rallies with other people, organizing petitions, and canvassing neighbors feel like the last things we should be doing. But since we’ll all be alone together (or #alonetogether—another popular social media tag for connecting stories of social distancing), I thought I’d offer some ways for us to remain politically engaged.

It is essential that we maintain our commitment to protect each other. We must ground ourselves in the kindness we’ve already shown each other as we think about and guard the more vulnerable members of our society. We need to think critically about the news that we are consuming and then begin to ask ourselves what we can do to make sure our society continues to protect those who need it the most.

See Also: Coronavirus and Schools

First, let us take this time to think about how we are consuming information and where it is coming from. Who is saying what? Where are reporters getting their information? Who are the quoted experts? Question what’s going on and trace it back to the source.

Places like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering both share their data on the pandemic and allow users to explore some of that data. Take time to peel back some of the layers and get to information instead of letting headlines and social media posts dictate how you feel. Having information and looking at sources can help with all the changes that are surely coming. Let’s use our social distancing time to become better and more informed navigators of the world.

The other piece of advice that I offer is to be kind to yourself and everyone else. We’re all making huge adjustments and asking difficult questions with no easy answers. We are all finding our lives to be more precarious than we previously thought. Even as we are missing our teachers who can no longer take care of our kids, those same teachers are reaching out through the internet to help. Retailers are asking that we minimize our footprint in their stores to keep the aisles clean and safe for those who need food and to stay healthy.

Let us be honest that we are in a time where we are answering a crisis with bold action—and let’s remember how that sacrifice feels so that we can build a kinder society when the pandemic passes. We are giving up comforts for the lives of others. We can do this again when our old normal returns. We can make changes to ease the precariousness of those who are suffering from the virus and its many ramifications, but it starts with asking questions.

In the meantime, I hope I see you being politically active and civic-minded. Take care of yourself. Check in with friends, families, and colleagues. Practice self-care and good hygiene. Support local businesses, tip if you can, and be kind.

Related Tags:

Follow the Education Week Opinion section on Twitter.

Sign up to get the latest Education Week Opinion in your email inbox.
A version of this article appeared in the March 25, 2020 edition of Education Week

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Omicron or No, Schools Should Prepare for a Pandemic Winter
Here are answers to questions about the new strain, which is considered potentially more infectious than Delta.
4 min read
Leader holding telescope and looking ahead while on top of ladder leaning on a large virus pathogen
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Student Well-Being Opinion Want Students to 'Build a Better World?' Try Culturally Responsive Social-Emotional Learning
The practice includes expanding students’ networks and developing their awareness of what it feels, looks, and sounds like to manage emotions.
19 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being Opinion Social-Emotional Learning and the Perils of Teaching as Therapy
SEL risks overburdening teachers with responsibilities they aren’t trained for, compromising their ability to build academic skills.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Student Well-Being Opinion Culturally Responsive Social-Emotional Learning: How to Get There
Bringing culturally responsive SEL into class can't be done as an add-on. It needs to be integrated into daily routines and academic work.
14 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty