Relationships by Grace

Grace's entry into Varsity Tutor's May 2020 scholarship contest

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Relationships by Grace - May 2020 Scholarship Essay

If Covid-19 has taught me anything, it’s that relationships matter.
A good relationship defines your educational career. You can ask anyone what the most influential part of their schooling was and they'll always answer with a person. A student, who was more than just a face in a classroom and became someone to mentor. A professor, who was willing to go the extra mile and explain material to you. A friend, who could explain physics like no one else.
During this time of isolation, I’ve never craved school more. Don’t get me wrong; I like handling my own schedule and planning out my day. But what’s hard for me is being away from people. I’ve always learned best when I’ve made a connection with the teacher, whether it be a shared hobby or just spending time with them after school. Keeping up relationships not only with my peers, but my teachers, is a key part of my learning experience.
Throughout my twelve years of schooling, the world has changed. I started kindergarten in 2008, when my uncle still had a Blackberry and computer carts were filled with white laptops that made too much noise when you typed. Chromebook wasn’t a word in the English lexicon. Neither was iPad. My teachers had overheads that they wrote on with dry erase markers; SMART boards didn’t come until late elementary school. Now, we’ve got Promethean boards in every class, computer carts full of chrome books and school districts looking to be “one to one,” providing a laptop for every student enrolled.
But the one thing that hasn’t changed are the people. Homework might be assigned on Google classroom, but students still have to come in after school to get extra help. Kindergarten classes still use talking sticks. Teachers still stand in the front of the class, still joke around with students, still give detention.
Fifty years from now, this will be the same. We might have holograms on the desks and paper might be obsolete, but nothing can replace the brick-and-mortar classroom. COVID-19 has given us all a chance to experience the virtual version- and for me, it’s not worth it. School is more than just curriculum, more than worksheets and math equations. It’s a place to learn how to advocate for yourself, how to interact with adults, how to navigate the social snafus in the lunchroom. To an outsider fifty years from now, education will look like a hotbed of new technology; every student glued to a paper thin laptop, teachers teaching geometric models with a hologram. But when you look closely, a classroom in 2070 will look largely the same as it does today; filled with people. Driven by relationships.