We big-brained bi-ped opposable-thumbed creatures have many faculties that separate us from the animal world and in our arrogance, we are often way too proud about that. We may not have warm and fuzzy feelings about rattlesnakes, hyenas, mosquitos, but hey, none of them ever purposefully killed or made others miserable so they could make money or feel important. If we are to have these faculties and tools further up the evolutionary chain, we should at lest use them for the right purposes and the right reasons—things like health, healing and happiness.
Take writing. We can use it to make lists of possessions or create manifestos of hatred or use it to reflect on our human condition and try to make sense of what’s going on. Or at least make it humorous. It was in that spirit that an offhand comment in an e-mail inspired me to write a new version of a song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. Following Tom Lehrer’s example of using the song to learn the Periodic Table (called The Elements), I’ve written a few verses about the difficulty of teaching an old Doug the new tricks of online learning. Hope to get a friend to sing and record it soon, but here’s a first draft. Enjoy!
THE MODERN ONLINE SCHOOLTEACHER
Sung to Gilbert and Sullivans’s The Modern Major General
@ 2020 Doug Goodkin
We’ve got Google Drive and Google Meet and See-saw, yes and Schoology
To learn our mathematics and our English and zoology,
There’s Flipgrid, Acapella and then Padlet, also Parent Square
I’ve learned them all, so please don’t tell me that there’s even more out there!
I’m meeting kids in gridded squares on screens that are now run by Zoom,
And when they’re not available, I download videos from Loom.
The school I used to know is disappearing, yes it’s burning
In the forest fire that we’re calling online learning.
It’s drag it here and dump it there and click on this and click on that,
Command shift 4 to screenshot it, two-finger click is where it’s at,
Then grab the link and share it out or save it in your Google Drive.
Then see if you remember if you’re on asynchronous or live.
You’ve got to keep track of your passwords, keep your toolbox up to date,
Make sure that your signal’s strong so kids in Zoom won’t have to wait.
Have everything you need lined up, make sure you know the URL,
The teaching that was heaven suddenly feeling like you’re stuck in hell.
But don’t despair, tear out your hair, there is a moral to this song.
Now we’ll all be ready when the next pandemic comes along!