An Israeli mom went viral this week with a video in which she railed against remote education after all schools shut in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“It’s not working this distance learning thing. Seriously, it’s impossible, it’s crazy!” says Shiri Koenigsberg Levy in a video that went round the world after it was subtitled in English.
“You’ve finished us off — it’s only the second day! If we don’t die of corona, we’ll die of distance learning!”
Online learning for elementary and middle school students stopped in Israel on Thursday, just five days after it began.
“I’ve only got two computers in the house, all morning they are fighting over the computers. One of my daughter’s teachers is living in a dream world if he thinks she’s going to get up at 8 a.m. to see him on screen. At 8 a.m. she only just manages to roll over in bed.
“And all day, ‘How is the child feeling? He should draw a picture.’ How’s the child feeling? He’s spending all day on his cell phone — he’s fine!”
Koenigsberg Levy, a special education teacher and a mother of four, said she has to run from “one child to the other — here’s science, here’s math — forget it! And how am I supposed to know all those things? Now our children will find out how dumb we are. How am I supposed to know how to transform an improper fraction?”
“My youngest child’s music teacher sent over a musical score this morning. What am I going to do with that information? What, have I got a band in the house? I can’t read music. Just one second, let me pull out my clarinet and help my son with his score. Enough guys, teachers, dial down the expectations,” she said.
Koenigsberg Levy told the Ynet news site that the “crazy” situation led to her getting into the car and making the video which she then uploaded to a Facebook group for jokes about motherhood. “Humor saves us,” she said.
In an interview with Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew Language sister site, Koenigsburg Levy said that as a resident of Ashkelon which frequently comes under rocket attacks, she was already familiar with remote learning but on this occasion the levels of work required were excessive.
“As southern residents who are familiar with the emergency routine because of the shooting from Gaza, we are experienced at distance learning. Parents know this tool, but at a much lighter dose. Now it’s a crazy load,” she said, before clarifying that she supported the initiative. “I am very in favor, but in the right doses. I think the Education Ministry has done something amazing and extraordinary. It has provided a framework for children and I do not know another country in the world capable of picking this up at a moment’s notice.”
“Teachers are working twice as hard as they normally do,” Koenigsberg Levy said. “Ask them if they would prefer to teach in school or work like this from home? Everyone chooses the school routine.”
The Israel Teachers’ Union reached an agreement with the Finance Ministry on Wednesday evening which will see 180,000 teachers be given paid vacation time through the end of the Passover holiday in April. The agreement does not cover high schools where teachers have been instructed to continue online remote learning until a deal is reached between their union representative and the Finance Ministry.
Beginning Thursday, elementary and middle school teachers are allowed to continue online lessons on a voluntary basis.
Since the start of the remote lessons, parents across the country have reported the education system was not sufficiently prepared to implement online learning on such a large scale. The website used by the Education Ministry to administer courses frequently crashed or has been reported to take a long time to load.