Claude Heiser, President of the CESI Trade Council Education, Training and Research on how education experts contribute towards fighting the crisis.

Is time standing still?

The lights of society in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are abruptly being switched off, in the wake of all school activities being suspended a few days previously. Just as a tornado occurs when very damp soil vapour and cold and dry mountain air meet, the inner revolt asserts itself in detail when two equally opposed principles collide: whilst most of us are required to slow down and be passive, even come to a standstill, the coronavirus is raging all-around at a diabolical speed. What can we do in this state of limbo, which parades our powerlessness and loss of control before our very eyes on a daily basis? What can we education experts contribute towards fighting the crisis?

Whilst those working in the sectors of health, security and the food supply chain face concrete challenges and expose themselves to risks every day, we need to consider the spiritual and emotional needs of overwhelmingly young people. Our children and young people must continue to enjoy the opportunity to undertake training and benefit from the chance to educate themselves, in order to build a secure future. In these times of isolation, this calls for a complete methodological volte-face as we resort to exclusively educating young people via electronic means.

This paradigm shift, which has arrived unexpectedly quickly, demands flexibility, constant adaptation and a spirit of innovation on the part of the teachers. What’s essential is that, at this time of total standstill, we maintain and support a continuous thinking and learning process amongst the young: the dynamic processes of thinking and learning can serve to counteract the stasis occasioned by our isolation.

After all, if the coronavirus has an impact on our physical wellbeing, fighting the virus through isolation and social distancing places a strain on our mental equilibrium. It’s no longer possible to take your mind off things through enterprise and most of us are being forced to concentrate on ourselves and occupy ourselves. This too requires strength and support, which is being supplied by additional people working with schools, such as psychologists and educators. Currently, more hotlines providing psychological support are being set up, in order to cope with increased demand.

How do things look in my home, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg? – Well, it’s just like the rest of Europe: state of emergency, freedom of movement significantly curtailed, growing numbers of infected people. The virus is raging, society stands still. My call to all colleagues in education is to create hope, take courage and continue to stand up for children and young people and a safe future. I also call on those politicians working in the field of education to lend their active support to all teachers, educators and students. For something is becoming clear: something which we can’t do without in education is human interaction. Society needs committed teachers and educators. They can’t be replaced by computers.

Claude Heiser

President of the CESI Trade Council Education, Training and Research