After witnessing the often-invisible glue that binds us, there is hope this generation will emerge emotionally wise and public-spirited
Anxiety about the current cohort of schoolchildren is now at the forefront of concerns about the legacy of the pandemic. Recent changes of policy on school opening and exams has focused attention on their mental health, the lack of formal learning and qualifications, and the long-term damage to social mobility. But, along with these difficult experiences, the pandemic may also be delivering another kind of education: an informal education in social connectedness and compassion.
What’s happening to schoolchildren at the moment, particularly teens affected by the exam shambles, is as tough as it gets. Their social interaction has been drastically curtailed. Any freedoms they might have been gradually trying to negotiate with their parents have come to an abrupt halt. They are now mainly confined at home. Terrible stresses have been created by uncertainties and sudden reversals. One minute they are preparing for the new term. Next minute, school is out. One minute exams will “definitely happen”. Next minute, they are cancelled. If that wasn’t enough to create major anxiety, there’s the background threat of the disease, becoming ever more real as they personally encounter more cases.