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Reflections on a Fractured Year: The Bonkersness of 2020-2021

It’s approaching the final week of school for those of us in the State Sector in England. Some of my lovely (and lucky?!) friends and colleagues, who work in independent schools have already broken up so they’re a week of two ahead of me in the decompression stakes, I think.

2019-2020 was a bit of a daft year really wasn’t it? The academic year ended up a bit of a thump for so many of our kids with the COVID19 thing. It really did rather suck. That is the least impolite way I can find to express myself- my Mum reads my blogs from time to time, so I do need to be respectful and whatnot. Roll on 2020-2021 we all thought.

And then it did roll on. And that sucked too.

2020-2021 has been fractured as a school year. There have been so many gaps, pauses and interludes in children’s journeys through their education. Those may be pauses because of lack of IT infrastructure, illness, or barriers to learning which have been amplified by the pandemic. Governmental help has not always reached who it was meant to. ICT (or lack thereof) is still one of the biggest barriers to engagement and young people are still arriving in school hungry. These are all terrible things, which have been put under an enhanced microscope over the last 18 months.

And very little has changed resource-wise. That chat is not for now though. I’ve written something else on that this morning!

But what I do notice is the binary positions that are set up in debate. The erasure of nuanced debate. The setting up of ‘camps’ and ‘othering’ of those who might do things differently or whose opinion isn’t the same as yours is so wholly unhelpful! Positioning people with differing views as hated, or as uncaring. It makes me so sad. Of course there are some positions which are binary and are irreconcilable; for example, the behaviour racist England fans on social media is utterly deplorable and those individual should have the book thrown at them. But many things aren’t binary. The world is not made up of yes/no questions or box-fitting answers. Many things fit along spectra and nuance is needed to see them clearly.

We seem to be losing that capacity to see the nuance and allow it to be discussed and explored. Where the rubs, the discords and the discomfort happens, nuance is to be found. And through discussion and collaboration great things can come. However, that can only come where people have a grey-space to meet in the middle, and at the moment, those grey-areas just don’t seem to exist in so many fields. There is so little wriggle-room granted or space left for bridge-building. The spaces seem to be full of name-calling, personal insults and fracture.

2020-2021 looks fractured to me in so many ways and it’s just so sad.