Today, we are a part of such a global village, connecting with each other by social media. It seems that, during these difficult pandemic times, we are moving even further with McLuhan’s prediction. It is not only staying in touch through the internet and following the news but it is the most fundamental elements of social development such as education that are becoming part of our virtual global village today.
However, with all the benefits of online education, also come the dangers. Mrs Buckley describes these dangers in detail in her article about Online Safety. The importance of online safety has been recognised globally this year and the 2020 International Children Peace Prize has been awarded to Sadat Rahman, 17-year old student from Bangladesh. Sadat has set up a mobile application called Cyber Teens that helps teenagers learn how to use the internet safely. Sadat wants to develop this application further so it can also provide psychosocial support to young people in need.
In addition to online safety, attending lessons for many hours in front of a computer brings another
set of problems, physical and psychological. Lower back problems and eyesight issues probably are still not affecting our students as much as adults but they remain a significant health risk to be addressed. A more significant problem that arises with online education is our mental health and the lack of social interaction. The human race and it’s progress is based on face to face interaction and the lack of such interaction is often difficult for some people to cope with. Therefore, without f2f interaction and with school being virtual, students rely more and more on what comes their way on the internet. However, with all the information overflow comes also a question of internet literacy. Are students able to filter through all this information and to determine what is true and factual from what is a lie and manipulation? It is our role as educators at TBS not only to help students in maintaining internet safety but also to provide them with all the tools that will allow them to become media literate. Only then students will gain more confidence about their internet use and more self-esteem about their own abilities and image.
We are also constantly looking at the ways of further improving our virtual teaching and learning provision. The most recent virtual school survey among Year 7-Year 13 students indicated areas where we can enhance what happens in our virtual classrooms.
We are slowly approaching the Christmas season and although this Christmas might look slightly different from normal, it is always time to reflect, time to be open-minded and time to care for others in need. I would, therefore, like to encourage everyone to become a part of PTA’s tradition at The British School Warsaw called The Christmas Giving Tree.
Finally, today, November 20th is UNICEF’s World Children’s Day. We have encouraged everyone to wear something blue today in support of this important day. It was on November 20th, 1959 that the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Now, each year on November 20th, the world promotes children's rights and takes actions that will create a better world for children.
Dr Jacek Łatkowski