Today we are in the midst of unforeseen circumstances, where an ominous virus looms large in every home and in every person’s thoughts. A catastrophic pandemic has engulfed the entire planet. Enough has been written and circulated about the coronavirus. There’s an information overload, advice on precautions to be taken and staying safe. The only topic of discussion on whatsapp or the TV or conversations seems to be covid19. While some experience fear and panic, there are others exhibiting a blatant disregard to movement restrictions, jeopardizing the health and safety of others by their foolhardy behavior?

The world has literally come to a standstill. As flights and trains stand cancelled, shops, establishments offices and schools are ordered closed, and people are literally grounded in their homes, it’s time to pause and reflect.

Thanks to Greta Thunberg’s tirade against the world leaders in the wake of their inaction towards containing climate change and global warming, we too as educators have been trying to sensitize the kids about their responsibilities towards conservation of resources. We exhort them to plant trees, reduce their carbon footprint and save the environment and the planet. But does the planet need to be saved? In one masterstroke it has shown man, that it is way more powerful than we could ever imagine. The earth does not need man to preserve it. Nature has self healing abilities and also the power to put things right. Our insatiable greed, continuous exploitation and humiliating desecration of earth’s beauty have tested to its limits. It has struck with a vengeance and brought mankind to its knees.

As life slows down, we as humanity are forced to reflect. What is the meaning and purpose of life? Why are we here? Where have we gone wrong? Is life on earth going to come to an end as predicted by many in the past? Or are we at the cusp of a new beginning? A satyug, after a maha kalyug? The night is darkest before the break of dawn. Are we near that proverbial dawn of a new era while we battle with this darkness and death of millions across the globe? For those who tide through this catastrophe, will life and work move at a different pace? Will people become less selfish and more giving? Kinder and more compassionate? Time will tell.

As of now, Covid has thrown a huge challenge to the teaching community in particular. Working from home, training to teach online, keeping parents and students engaged, being more visible to parents while teaching, are going to test teachers to their limit. ‘Working from home’ may no longer seem an attractive proposition. Already many feel that working within the school was better. As we gear up for all this, for an indefinite period, teachers surely will develop more skills, they will have to become more creative, they will have to think on their feet and they will only gain from collaborating and sharing.

May we all come out stronger, smarter and more enriched from these trying times? Happy teaching and learning to my fellow educators.

(Ms Poonam Kochitty, Principal, Seth Anandram Jaipuria School, Lucknow)