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No reason for boredom

For schools still in session, there are continuing online classes and tutorials. And all of us who have taught know how much more challenging and burdensome that is, preparation-wise, for teachers. When technology did not as yet allow this luxury of face-to-face learning and we had to prepare work for emergency days off whether for calamity or security reasons, we would all say with deep sighs, why, it is so much easier to actually teach my class rather than do all this voluminous paperwork.

That is why I was amused to watch the 90-second video of an exasperated mother of four in Israel, Shiri Kenigsberg Levi, who raved and ranted about online learning, on the second day of remote learning brought about by the lockdown in her country. And the internet replied to her, “Same!”

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Her complaint: how to cope with her usual chores at home, her own responsibilities as a special education teacher (an award-winning one yet), and looking over her children’s homework. What do I know about fractions, the latest music sheet sent by the teacher, the constant solicitous inquiries about how the children are faring, she asked. “Ask me how I’m feeling! I’m falling to pieces!” It was all done in good humor, and Levi was surprised at the worldwide reception. A final complaint: “If I knew Victoria Beckham would put me in one of her Instagram stories, I would have gotten a blowout, put on a nice shirt, some makeup!” Laugh and empathize with her on https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/parenting/israeli-mom-coronavirus-remote-learning.html

And, spoken like a teacher, a former colleague added that maybe parents working with their quarantined children will now see that teachers are not always entirely to blame.

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Here are the week’s discoveries for adults to take comfort and refuge in, highly recommended by Manhattan-based friend Sheila Coronel who is also working doubly hard these days for online learning:

A short two-minute treat from Patrick Stewart of “Star Trek” fame, reading a Shakespearean sonnet: https://twitter.com/SirPatStew/status/1241506250086666241?s=20&referringSource=articleShare

For those with more time on their hands, a rich offering of New York’s cultural life: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/arts/theater-dance-classical-art-stay-home-virus.html?referringSource=articleShare

The New York Times remains a wonderful, dependable resource, but it always pleases me more to know and experience FB offerings from our own authors and illustrators. Aside from the easier access, it highlights the good heart and exceptional talents of our creatives. Illustrator Robert Alejandro, who began his daily 10 a.m. lessons for children online long before the idea caught fire, experimented with a class for adults, and it’s poised to become regular, too. Author Genaro Gojo Cruz has a daily 5 p.m. storytelling session that a teacher has christened “Facebooklatan Kasama ni Titser Gene.”

Lock ‘n Roll Live, hosted by Segundo Matias Jr., publisher and author of “Moymoy Lulumboy” and “Mga Batang Poz,” is the newest kid on the block. It began impressively with Ricky Lee talking about his craft; yesterday, Al Santos of Room to Read and Asa Montenejo of Adarna talked about the current state of children’s literature in the country. Other guests have included writers Luis Gatmaitan, Zarah Gagatiga, and Willi Pascual, and illustrator Ivan Reverente.

The enthused and interested online audience were awed to meet the familiar bylines and begged for more such workshop opportunities. They were left with helpful tips to begin with—read, read, read, write, write, write; the illustrator puts in the art what the writer cannot express in words; it is harder to tell a story with an 80-100 word count and so the writer learns to distill, while the illustrator expands.

The most recent session was on comics; the time varies depending on the availability of resource persons.

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The Room to Read project, which produced 20 books for beginning readers, was completed in record time, with seemingly impossible deadlines because of calendar year restrictions on given donations. The amazing products are books especially relevant for Filipino children and the difficult circumstances they find themselves in. Remembering the pressure of writing a story in over a day—albeit in the comfort of a Bohol beach resort—Gatmaitan said that that was the original lockdown. If only these books would become available to everyone sooner than later.

And of these days, a viewer, Mark Steven Manzano, commented: “Walang lockdown sa imahinasyon.” Well said.

Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ([email protected]) is a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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