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Driven Away by Distraction

School is any place that allows for the time and space to allow for focus to build confidence.

Photo of Kevin Varano
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Written by

I am a.....

  • Teacher

Tell us about your idea

I teach in an under-served, minority majority small urban area. Ability and drive are not the issue as much as the time to focus to build the confidence to be successful. Students are distracted by their everyday devices of choice, just as if they were in school. However, school provides the space for students to explore, challenge and develop the skills that allow them to excel. How do we recreate that in any environment for everyone? My students are working to feed their families, to pay bills, to make just a little money to pay for college. Many of my students are the chief cook and bottle washer, providing day care and ensuring their younger siblings have their shot at school. I have communicated with my student from 8am until well past midnight, answering questions about schoolwork, financial aid or help with some other homework. While I admit, more security for food, housing and the like are heavily politicized issues, access to time is sacred for the continuity and success of creating confident learners and leaders to take advantage of endless opportunities. 

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

The schedule. It's archaic. It's inflexible. It no longer works in today's society.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I am a teacher in a small public school in Central PA. I work with students who have to overcome a system rigged against them. They inspire me everyday. Having had a career in social work prior to becoming a teacher, advocating for the rights of persons with serious and persistent mental illnesses, I have been appalled at the conditions our unfair systems of funding have created in the pursuit of higher education.

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

I live in Lancaster County, PA and teach in Harrisburg, PA. I teach in a small STEM high school for public school students from the city of Harrisburg. Harrisburg, is a small city, an old city, but the Capitol city of PA. Our school is mere blocks from the Capitol Building but the distance between living there and working there are continents apart.

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Photo of Peter Worth
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Thank you for your post, Kevin Varano . Your commitment to and empathy for your students is inspiring. You have raised a really important issue. Have you thought about how you and your students could prototype some ways to create that sacred time? It would be very interesting to hear their ideas on how to create time to focus under these circumstances. Thanks!