How is the COVID-19 pandemic transforming young people’s lives and experiences?

Joining CUI host Mary W. Rowe for our ongoing series of candid conversations – How is the COVID-19 pandemic transforming young people’s lives and experiences? – are Josh Fullan, Maximum City; Joe Salmon, UBC Class of 2024;  Zoë Bennett, Youth Advocate; Jordan Bighorn, Community Education Development Association (CEDA); and Miatta Dukuly, Youth Advocate. 

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. We must enhance youth voices

When developing plans for the future, young people cannot be left out of the equation. Including youth in these conversations, especially during the pandemic, will help develop plans that meet their needs. At the same time, we must find ways to encourage young people to speak out about their experiences. Indeed, this may be one way to help empower young people during and after the pandemic.

2. Young people are experiencing this pandemic in vastly different ways.

No two young people share the same background, circumstance, knowledge or personality. Some young people have been thriving during the pandemic because they can spend more time towards their passion projects. Some are just getting by, and are missing the time spent with friends and classmates. Others, however, are struggling because they are less engaged with their education and lack in-person activities and essential interactions with peers and adults.

3. Schools and parents can’t do it alone

From teachers to parents to mentors, parents and educators are taking on most of the responsibilities when it comes to caring for young people during the pandemic. Continuing in this way is unsustainable – families and schools alike need more assistance. Government and communities need to offer more support for schools and to develop innovative strategies for education and re-opening plans.

4. Provide flexibility

Young people are coming of age during a tumultuous time without activities, physical contact and their usual support systems. Rather than pressing for traditional coursework, teachers should instead prioritize flexibility when it comes to academic assessment. For example, students can pursue passion projects during their spare time, or seek to engage with their local communities. Indeed, this can be continued after the pandemic with the help of their teachers and communities. Many schools have already shown students flexibility by adjusting grading systems, but such approaches should also be adjusted on a long-term basis.

5. Schools must be made more accessible

Schools should be made more open for students to access, regardless of background, identity, ability, or learning style. This includes supplementing online learning with other delivery options. Indeed, one of our panelists offered the concept of “raising the walls” around schools.