DAYS after the formal opening of classes for School Year 2020-2021, we have encountered a considerable amount of challenges. By example, frequent social media posts have gone viral, showing Filipino students climbing trees, or even mountains, just to get a good internet signal for their online classes. This enraged both netizens and educational stakeholders that called out schools and universities for giving precedence on academic output over student welfare.
Most of us see problems as obstacles in one’s academic journey but we must know that they are blessings that were given to us by God. Life will be unmeaningful if we don’t have ups and downs. We are given problems for us to be stronger, for our skills to be sharpened and for us to be closer to God. We should always remember, problems are just problems and we have a bigger God than all of the burdens that we have in life. We should turn our problem into a blessing that will make you stronger and a better person. In so doing allow me share with you a list of blessings amidst all these challenges which I call the BEATITUDES OF ONLINE LEARNING:
Blessed are those who struggle to study and learn online;
For they will appreciate the value of education.
Blessed are those who cope with their inadequate cyber gadgets;
For they will learn to innovate and compensate.
Blessed are those who frequently catch up with lessons amid slow connectivity;
For they will understand the virtue of patience.
Blessed are those who need to find financial support to pay for their internet load;
For they will discover the importance of a hard-earned income.
Blessed are those who miss face-to-face classes with teachers;
For they will rediscover self-learning and tutoring from parents.
Blessed are those who tussle to find a quiet place for their online classes;
For they will now realize the significance of solitude and silence.
Blessed are those who yearn to share the company of classmates and friends;
For they will recognize the meaning of togetherness when they see each other again.
And, blessed are those who hope that school doors will open once again;
For they will say that, “Online Learning has prepared me for the challenges ahead”.
If we look deeply we will realize that there are more blessings than problems but because a lot of us are frazzled and overwhelmed, we notice more the problems than the blessing. When we are focused on what we needed, or what we thought we needed, we will be blinded by it and we will not notice the blessings God gave us. I do believe that God gave us what we truly needed. Nothing happens without God allowing it. In fact, God will not permit any troubles to happen to us unless He has a specific plan for a greater blessing to come out of that challenge.
Similar to the biblical Beatitudes, these Online Learning Beatitudes “depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity. They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection; they shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations; they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ’s disciples; they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1717).
As we prepare for the “new normal” in Education vis-à-vis this COVID-19 Health Crisis; our academic institutions will not just be about functioning in a setting that safeguards the wellbeing of students; nor will it be about completely transitioning to online modalities. The shift will likewise entail the establishment of ETHICAL PARADIGMS that would help guide administrators, teachers, parents and students in maneuvering in this new “flexible & unfamiliar learning space” in the creation of new norms outside the traditional classroom environment; and these Beatitudes seek to help benchmark this ethical framework.
“The Beatitudes are in some sense the Christian’s identity card. They identify us as followers of Jesus. We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus. Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy” (Pope Francis).
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