From my bedroom windows and from the windows-on-the-world via computer, I see the world turned upside down. In the morning, it was gloomy news for late March: wet snow falling upon the first flowers of my favorite magnolia and on a gorgeous-yellow forsythia hedge. See below – what a difference with a normal spring view it makes!
Later, my computer news barged in, all about the lessons in human resilience and adaptation to coronavirus’ swiftly shifting scenery. That got me thinking.
Experiential Learning in Coronavirus Times
There are certain things that we, the people, can learn only experientially, with better or worse outcomes. Here’s the experiential learning’s better outcome part, which may bring some possible coronavirus-induced long-term benefits:
- Mass education on personal hygiene, with proper hand-washing technique for starters
- Modified social norms stressing thinking of the others’ safety as one’s own (with wearing masks and gloves in public places, elbow bumps instead of handshakes, etc.)
- Flexible distant workhours improving work-life balance – a sign of the future that humanity was moving towards anyway.
Here’s the experiential learning’s worse outcome part, top 3 of a longer list:
- Getting accustomed to grab more foods and hygiene supplies than necessary and hoard them at home, thus depriving those in need of them
- Modified social norms might settle in for longer term—and traditionally warm nations become “colder,” as over time cultures evolve too
- Working from home reduces valuable face-to-face colleagues’ connections; typically feeling a part of a bigger team increases productivity, performance, and creativity
- More things will be learned on the go, especially – I suspect – in personal interactions of a bigger family stuck within the four walls.
In general, experiential learning, like drinking, is good in moderation. The question is, what can we control at this unpredictable coronavirus times?
Looking out of my window(s), I can see that today most countries focus on counteracting, controlling, and stopping the pandemic. No Pasaran, meaning ‘they shall not pass’ (the phrase from the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, used by the soldiers fighting against Franco and the Falangists) is the inspiring slogan. But what country is the most effective in its war on coronavirus?
In the US, many blame the government for moving too slow in rolling-out the people’s safety net. It’s true, they started late and proceeded slowly. However, let’s remember that America is not China, and we cannot fully imitate Chinese ways of stifling the pandemic. Why? Because China used massive surveillance coupled with forceful limitations of individuals’ privacy rights, unthinkable in true democracies.
Today, America is adding cases at a faster pace than Italy in the beginning of its outbreak: it took America 16 days to grow from 100 to 1000—a day faster than Italy recorded the same growth. Too bad, but what’s to be done?
We need to learn experientially from the best, period.
Take France. On March 12, Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation asking people to limit social interactions out of their sense of “national solidarity.” How French that is! We remember that “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” (French for “liberty, equality, fraternity”) is the national motto of France, since the French Revolution.
The inspirational motto did not work, so the President wasted no time on further wording, and on March 17 the state started to act. Everyone leaving home was required by law to present a signed attestation, hand-written or printed from the government website, stating they were on essential business (shopping for groceries or medicines). Businesses had been closed in most countries—but with a difference in France: The Army was mobilized; 100,000 police offices and gendarmes issued 4,095 fines on March 18 only. That worked like magic. The French now obey the lockdown rules.
The experiential learning of the whole big nation tells us that any law is effective only when enforced. Money, motivation, and lockdown orders alone do not help.
I have nothing against curfew and isolation in the comfort of my NJ home. Unfortunately, nationwide many governors tend to forget that we’ll be winners in the fight with coronavirus only if they remember the old saying, “Deeds, not words,” and prevent people hanging out, going to beaches, parties, and such. If our government does not learn the essential experiential training techniques, all its 2-trillion-dollar stimulus deal package will go to waste, while covid-19 keeps spreading. And this is OUR money, my fellow citizens, it’s OUR skin in the game, so let’s urge our government to act swiftly!
We’re in this together, watching the world out of our windows. You may feel lonely, yet you’re not alone. So, chin up, my friends. Optimism never hurts. Together, we say No Pasaran to the coronavirus panic, fears, and that sinking feeling that it may last for a long while.
The world is learning to cope experientially, on the go—and so shall we.
We shall overcome!
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Learning from whatever source is an everpresent opportunity, and experiental learning is the one we (kind of) are closest to. It’s in front of us and accompanies us for a bit. The problem is to make it your own, to assimilate it, so that the experience becomes part of you, and from then on influences your thoughts and actions. Too often we conveniently “forget” this type of learning. That’s my 2 cents,
Margot, thank you for your comment, you nailed the issue: we need to make it our own, whatever problem we have, and then act with the assimilated problem-solving experiences. Let’s never forget it!