Is Zooming Bad for Democracy?

Although we are all back to school, the Pandemic is in its third year and the wear and tear on our society is evident. For example, not all schools are back, as the omnicron variant continues to shut down parts of the system, whole classrooms are sent home when COVID-19 variants break out, and the country is more divided than ever over politics, mask-wearing, and vaccinations. Perhaps one of the most visible reactions to the Pandemic was the use of video, commonly called “Zooming” to connect educators and students.

Less Democracy, More Authoritarian

If the definition of democracy is the ability to connect and learn together on the public education needs, zooming has helped us get through our education priorities. But the downside of zooming is largely ignored for now. The downside of this is that educators and students feel disconnected even though they can see their counterparts in the educational mission. Teachers end up defaulting to one-direction teaching….where teachers talk and students listen. And most important to our system of education that includes 50% impoverished and 20% with disabilities, the chance to address and remediate problems is very low.

Zooming Masks the Real Problem

The real problem for our democracy, as embedded in these zoom problems in classrooms, is that our democracy is weakening and devolving into more silos of groups who have their own agenda and that agenda includes hate for the other groups. We are at war with each other. This was started when the internet brought much more information to each of us and our response to being overwhelmed devolved into finding interest groups that were just like us. Even our professional organizations such as lawyers, physicians, business men and women are divided up into smaller affinity groups. Teachers are divided into smaller affinity groups depending on level of education that they teach in, or domains of their subjects. Zooming is not the problem, but a symptom of small-minded thinking across a democracy that is fractured. We must look to our fractured lines of connection, our internet groupings, our professional gatherings and find ways to increase connection across divided lines.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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