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Sara McCombs (they/them)
Sara McCombs (they/them)

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Pushing Learning Mid-Pandemic, Does It Make Sense?

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Among the things I strive to expect or prepare for their eventuality in my life, a pandemic is the last thing on that list. No one really expects a pandemic to occur. A lost job. A sick child. Sure, those are things in the realm of possibility. Pandemic? Definitely, not.

I was so wrong though.

For me, this pandemic came in like a tsunami post-earthquake and found me in the middle of learning Javascript. Not that timing for a pandemic could ever be good, it just hit my family after a series of personal hurdles we had just managed to work through. Among the loss of most personal support systems, my Flatiron cohort also lost its beloved lead. Lost as in he gained employment elsewhere, not perished thankfully. To say this was all overwhelming was the understatement of my lifetime. There was no “business as normal” for my family during this time. The “new normal” we were attempting to adjust to was now shaken and completely undermined. The “new normal” was now the “old-new normal”.

To keep myself focused amid additional life-crumbling changes, I persevered through the rest of the Javascript curriculum at Flatiron. Possibly not the smartest move, but the support of two of my cohort mates gave me the strength I needed to work through yet another insurmountable obstacle hitting my life in the past three months. The companionship these two provided and the ability to stay within my cohort provided me the “glue” necessary to keep from falling apart. It was absolutely enough to stay sane, but not enough to ensure the things I was learning were actually going to be retained.

The week before project weeks, the confusion and lack of confidence with Javascript were evident. Adjusting to a new cohort lead, which included a new teaching style, as well as trying to keep straight the differences between ES 5 and ES 2015/ ES 2016/ etc have made my head spin a time or two. Maybe it was the order I learned these various version differences, the lack of curriculum emphasis on the more recent versions, the new cohort lead, the new teaching style, or the fact I was trying to learn during a never-before-encountered-in-our-lifetime pandemic. In actuality, it was a healthy combination of all of them with a strong lead by the last one.

I’ve made it through my Javascript project now, and the phrase “Hindsight is 20/20” could never be more true. Learning during a pandemic absolutely does NOT make sense for everyone and the bullshit ideology of “you should come out of this situation with x new skills” is toxic. Strong words, but the fact that we are trying to push learning during a pandemic and encouraging a “business as normal” mindset is terrifying. We are literally living through a time that is being compared to the Black Death and the Spanish Flu. I’m fairly certain that the general focus for those living through those eras was one of supporting each other for basic survival and adapting to suddenly different circumstances that everyone was now facing. While we are much more technologically advanced to deal with this situation, we are still human and the mental and emotional stress is still the same. We must have a HUMAN focus and not a PRODUCTIVITY focus during this unprecedented time in our lives.

Without the additional stressors of the pandemic, working through my project would have given me a significant surge in understanding and confidence with Javascript. While I am extremely proud of the project I have put together amid such mental and emotional weight, the confidence to face my Flatiron review is lacking. I know this is 100% the result of learning while working towards a deadline in the current global climate. While I will continue to study and prepare for my project review every day until its actuality, I can only pray that the completion of the project will provide a sense of clarity and foster confidence as I move forward in the Flatiron curriculum.

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