How Distance Learning Loosened My Grudge Against School


Avery Rush

Distance learning gives me more control over my days, as it allows me to complete my work wherever I feel most motivated.

Avery Rush, Assistant Editor

Growing up, I was always the nerd of the class who was rarely seen without a book in hand. I wasn’t necessarily introverted, but I typically kept to myself because I enjoyed the company of my schoolwork more than I did my classmates.

I was told by the adults in my life, seemingly every day, that I was going to “do big things one day.” I lived for the satisfaction I got knowing that I was making people proud. 

My elementary school allowed me to work on things at a pace I felt comfortable with and teach myself things in whatever way worked best for me. In doing this, I learned to view every day as a mini-competition to see how much I could accomplish. 

Once I started middle school, I was at a new school, in a new area, with entirely different expectations to adhere to. My light for learning began to dim as the days dragged on without the feeling of challenge and reward I had before.

With less control over my time and education, I felt school turn into a chore rather than something I looked forward to.

I asked myself how it was possible that I enjoyed school so much before, and settled on the idea that school is enjoyable when it’s about learning, not earning a grade. 

The praise I was accustomed to hearing from people turned into disappointment. I had set the bar so high for myself that anything less than excelling was seen as failure. I lost all of my confidence as a student, which resulted in a loss of all motivation as well.

Another aspect of school that majorly affected my success was the sudden change in social dynamics. I went from a tiny charter school to a middle school with 1,100 students, and the pressures that accompany growing up hit me harder than I could have ever expected. 

I’ve struggled with social anxiety since I was very young, but before changing schools, I was always in an environment that was sheltered enough for me to manage it. The constant stress I felt in middle school from bullying and the pressure to fit in with whatever was cool caused me to see schoolwork as an afterthought. 

My grades were slipping, which only worsened the other struggles I was dealing with. The prospect of being a super successful person with a college degree and a glamorous job faded away, and I fell into a pattern of seeing the bare minimum as more than good enough.

This pattern prevailed throughout my sophomore year of high school. I hated going to school, until I suddenly couldn’t go at all. 

The pandemic hit and my school days looked entirely different. While the transition was hard for some, I felt an instant sense of comfort completing my work from anywhere I could find motivation. 

Waking up and doing yoga or making oatmeal before class in lieu of my typical commute made me realize that digital learning allows me to control my days in ways I haven’t been able to since I was much younger.

Instead of anxiously pacing the halls during morning break, I’m now able to enjoy breakfast with the company of my mom and on my sofa instead of at an uncomfortable desk. 

The comfort of my house and the extra time in the morning definitely contributes to my appreciation for distance learning, but more than anything, I am appreciative of the academic freedom I now have. I can teach myself to do things in the ways that work for me, rather than a one-size-fits-all method recycled by teachers year after year.

I began to realize after a month or so that I liked school again, and it was because I found myself actually learning rather than going through the motions to get a certain grade. I was learning to hold myself accountable and be independent in my work.

Along with the academic benefits, I was met with the joys of a lack of social pressure and no need to fit any kind of norm for the first time in years. I had the friends in life that really mattered to me, and didn’t have to worry about anybody bringing me down.

Without the stress of wearing the right outfit or always saying the right thing at the right time, I was able to focus on the parts of school that actually mattered to me and that I truly enjoyed. 

I’m grateful for this experience because I now feel readier than ever to enter college, as I am now equipped with the ability to succeed without somebody constantly standing over my shoulder. My school days are not an obstacle I constantly struggle to defeat anymore.

Though my tasks are different from what they were in elementary school, I’ve finally returned to the habit of working smarter, not harder, which I never felt able to do during my typical school schedule.

Online school has treated me well, but I know that it can’t last forever. Although the prospect of in-person learning scares me to a minor degree, I am confident that I won’t regress to the rut I found myself in prior to the coronavirus.

My success at home has given me the confidence to also succeed after high school, now that I know I am capable of so much more than I’ve been giving myself credit for.