Those who can do, those who can’t teach


“Those who can do, those who can’t teach.” Sorry Mr Bernard Shaw, but you are wrong. I can not do algebra, nor it seems can I teach it. Or to that mind, anything – I seem unable to teach them anything! Max is getting very frustrated, it turns out my long-standing and well developed (yet not often used) way of working out long division, is also wrong.

Those who can do, those who can’t teach

Not wrong, I mutter under my breath, just different. Max does not agree, Max thinks my technique was derived from a time of chipping sentences into stone, he asks again if I recall the year the Titanic sank, for the fifth time today I tell him I am a child of the 1980s, not 1880s. You don’t get it he says! I agree I am losing the will now, I am getting ratty, Max is now crying, my work phone is ringing, Ethan wants breakfast, My email bleeping… all I can think about is wine o clock. Sound familiar?

COVID-19 has made master multitaskers of us all. Parents and carers like me are balancing work and home life with the added pressure of taking on our child’s education. I initially and most self-assuredly started this lockdown nightmare with a military approach. I ordered highlighters, workbooks and writing pads a plenty, developed a colourful very precise schedule (using my new ruler from my new pencil case) to draw perfect lines on a very polished timetable. I am an able and agile person, this would be a breeze, this was easy – 3 hours in, my mind was leaving alongside my false sense of security. This was hell.

The children were not in their usual academic working environment, they were at home. In their place of refuge, where they relaxed, where they left school and entered the comforts of their worlds. The very nature of the task was at odds with all they knew and all they had experienced. It was in effect like me trying to do a workout at the pub.

I decided early on something had to give. I had a job to do, they had to keep up with their education and we all had to stay sane.

The first thing I had to do, relax. I am a big believer that if you enjoy what you do, you will do it well. We, therefore, decided we would in part create our own ‘COVID Curriculum’. Cooking became one of our lessons, breakfast, lunch and dinner all had to be made. So, we decided that was one of our key lessons. Geography and Science topics were touched upon on our daily walks. Picking flowers, researching the flora and fauna. Movie time became a daily essential. I worked, they watched. Bohemian Rhapsody, School of Rock and Rocketman I believe also ticked of music lessons, Dunkirk, well that was history sorted and painting the skirting boards… Art lesson nailed!

We found a happy medium. We discovered that the learning environment had changed and therefore our lessons also could be adapted to meet our new environment.

That led me to think about how our working environments had changed, my working day surely had. Flexibility was key. Sure, jobs had to be done and I had clients and deadlines and important tasks to do. But did it make any difference if the marketing messages were created at 10 pm or 10 am – not really. This level of agility and creativeness has been essential for me to be able to cope with the restraints of working from home, with two kids and what feels like 10,000 meals a day to prepare. With this in mind, we have also applied some of these principles to our own business, our live chat sessions are now available on the evenings, for instance, hopefully giving the multitaskers out there more flexible access to our services. It’s also important, I truly believe to give ourselves a little break. Some days will be harder than others, and that is okay, the long division has changed over the years… and that is okay. Wine has become an essential item on my shopping list… also okay.

Rachael Nixon