I am pretty sure none of us thought we would be in this situation. As I walk the neighborhood, making sure my family practices the recommended 6 feet of distance from others. It hit me how my behaviors have changed due to social distancing and how being away from the school house has affected me. I find myself waving to neighbors, waving at cars passing by and looking forward to seeing the mailman drive up to the mailbox. Due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, my subconscious has changed to be more willing to seek out human connection and listen more intently. This moment in our history is in fact just that. We are in the midst of history. Each of us have the power and influence to write a story worth telling for years and generations to come. The question is how will we add to the narrative and adjust our ability to still be compassionate and innovative while deepening our ability to be resilient.
It goes without saying, I like movies and value films that have a deep overarching moral meaning. As I watch the pandemic unfold and watch the news, I look for parallels between my favorite films and how communities rise to the occasion. For example, most of my favorite films have the following components in this order:
- Tranquil moments are perceived
- Issue or problem arises
- Adversity meets the characters
- Characters rally together to problem solve and process through critical thinking
- Deep sense of accomplishment and benefit to the community
For example, in the 1995 Apollo 13 film, three astronauts originally set out to be the third landing on the surface of the Moon. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the spacecraft experienced an oxygen tank explosion creating a massive issue. While in space, the crew was met with the adversity of not having enough oxygen, minimal power and frigid temperatures, plus a slew of other problems. Through intense stress and dire circumstances, Mission Control and the Astronauts needed to adjust course and realign the mission. Quickly procedures were created for landing, flying around the Moon and fixing their depleted Oxygen issue. In the end, our Astronauts thankfully returned home.
Operation Breakthrough was a rescue effort to save several gray whales trapped under thick ice near Point Barrow, Alaska in 1988. The underlying issue for the whales is that they were too far away from the open ocean and poachers wanted the whales for food. With national attention and a coordinated effort, a plan was hatched to save the whales. The town rallied behind the effort to free the whales and made sure if a road block presented itself, the power of the collective body would prevail. Saving the whales was only made possible by pressure from local residents, national civic organizations, the National Guard, international partnerships and the White House. This story became a movie called, Big Miracle.
My last example might be made into a movie and it’s actually a movie script we are currently living. The COVID-19 pandemic will be history. We will talk about its effects for generations to come and our children will speak about it from a lens we should be looking through. Our children are experiencing a culture of separation, social distancing and balancing competing responsibilities. They are physically separated from their teachers, hands-on learning opportunities and isolated from the greater community. In 1934, John Dewey, Philosopher, said the purpose of education was to, “give the young the things they need in order to develop in an orderly, sequential way into members of society.” Dr. Martin Luther King, civil rights activist, eloquently stated , “the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically…we must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
In the COVID-19 era, we are forced to adjust our process for teaching and learning. Now, our students are away from school and living even more so in a digital space. Our ability to “pivot” and adjust will be vital to the continuation of our purpose of educating the next generation of young people. Keep in mind, every child, adult and family are experiencing the pandemic in different ways. When we emerge on the other side, the COVID era will allow us to emerge stronger, more connected and firm in our focus to support each other. Thus, redefining our purpose. In the movies, right before the end credits, the sun rises and shines for the resilience we all possess.
Dr. Darryl S. Diggs, Jr.
Control your content.
Control your distribution.