Throughout this rapidly-changing global crisis, I find myself almost constantly having to balance reality with optimism in every aspect of my job and my personal life.  First Grade teacher Juli Vogelsang shared with me the following set of queries that she had heard at a service over the weekend.  It certainly speaks to me about what can be gleaned from the study of positive psychology – the challenge and need to actively work to reframe basic reactions based on fear and catastrophizing – to explore and create “what if…?’.

“I truly believe our kids will be okay. I believe they are learning more, watching us navigate this worldwide crisis.

  • What if instead of falling behind, this generation of kids is moving ahead because of this?
  • What if they have more empathy, they enjoy family connection, they can be more creative and entertain themselves, they love to read, they love to express themselves in writing?
  • What if they enjoy the simple things, like their own backyard and sitting near a window in the quiet?
  • What if they notice the beauty in nature instead of a screen?
  • What if they learned to be okay by themselves and their thoughts?
  • What if they learned their value comes from who they are and not their productivity and busyness?

  • What if this generation are the ones to learn to cook and organize their space and do their laundry and keep a well-run home?
  • What if they learn to stretch a dollar and learn to live with less?
  • What if they learned that it is okay to pause and enjoy quiet?
  • What if they learn the value of eating together as a family and finding the good to share in the small delights of the everyday?
  • What if they learn patience, endurance and steadfastness in the face of trials?
  • What if they are the ones to place great value on our teachers and educational professional, librarians, public servants and the previously invisible essential support workers like truck drivers, groceries, cashiers, custodial workers, health care workers and their supporting staff, who are taking care of us right now while we are sheltered in place?

  • What if among these children, a great leader emerges who had the benefit of a slower pace and a simpler life to truly learn what really matters in this life?
  • What if they are ahead?”

And, from Robert Pondiscia, a senior fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute: “Trust me on this: There’s a good chance that, years from now, you will feel a bit sentimental for these weeks spent in social isolation. We’re built for challenging times. We are writing the stories we will tell our children and grandchildren. When the children of the pandemic are old and gray, they will reminisce about their teachers. It will be a warm memory, even though so many people got sick, lost their jobs, and were afraid. They don’t have the vocabulary today to describe it, but the lessons will stick and become clearer in the retelling. It’s about social cohesion, love and loyalty, and how good people step up when we need them to.”

(Robert Pondiscio in “The Lessons That Last in the Time of Pandemic” in Education Gadfly, April 2020)

4 thoughts on “What if they are ahead?

  1. I agree with Corinne. These are challenging times, for so many different reasons. The realist in me fully respects the hardships so many people are enduring, and the optimist in me hopes that some good will come of this challenge we are facing. This article, with all the “what ifs”, really says it beautifully. I hope that each one of those thoughts comes to fruition. Not that I would wish this on anyone, but I do believe that the pace of the world is out of control, and that we need to see this. Is this what it takes for us to recognize how we are spiraling? Hopefully, in the future, we’ll step back and take a look at how we are moving through this world. Every once in a while, we need to take a break from the pace. Better yet, we need to regulate the pace before it overtakes us. I just really appreciate the message in this article. Juli and Paul, thank you for sharing…

    1. It truly is such a blessing. Seeing my kids to math with their Dad every morning and baking and biking and making family decisions together far outweighs the stress of losing our schedule. Thank you as always for sharing?

  2. I am grateful to have the opportunity to share reflections with others in our school community. As I see it, everyday gifts are always present, yet they allude us. The pandemic has allowed us to see the simple gifts in life, opening our eyes to what was always there. This has been a personal time for many of us to pause and reflect on what truly matters. As Amanda writes, it is a blessing to be together and to appreciate each other. As painful as this time is for many, we are holding one another through this.

    I also appreciated the “What ifs” article because it invites us to vision life beyond this time, full of possibility for us, our children and our grandchildren. In the present, it also prompts us to focus our attention on discovering the simple joys of being alive, moments of inner connection and being present for one another in ways that can change our lives. My gratitude to Paul and Juli for sharing this!

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