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Started: 2020-10-28 21:23:18

Submitted: 2020-10-28 23:29:35

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator proposes a neologism to describe online elementary education in the First Plague Year

I have a neologism I want everyone to start using: "Zoomtergarten".

This is (obviously, I hope) a portmanteau of "Zoom" and "kindergarten", and should be used to describe attending kindergarten, virtually, via video conference. (It doesn't strictly have to be a Zoom call, because "Zoom" is well on its way to becoming a generic noun (and it's working on becoming a generic verb along the way).)

Julian on his kindergarten Zoom call
Julian on his kindergarten Zoom call

Julian turned five this spring, so he was eligible to enter kindergarten this fall. Because this is the First Plague Year, his school is entirely virtual: he has a half-hour meeting with his whole class at 08:30, then a twenty-minute meeting with a small group (four students), then several more half-hour subjects scattered throughout the week: library, music, PE. The rest of his time is assisted homework time: reading, writing, and math videos and worksheets (mostly online, some hard-copy). Julian's teacher spent the first couple of days of class drilling the students on how to use Zoom: how to mute and unmute themselves, how to raise their hands and wait to be called on, and how to interact without all talking at once (in an endless cacophony of five-year-olds).

One other thing Julian picked up from Zoomtergarten is how to make "books" by stapling together several pieces of printer paper then drawing and writing on the pages. In many of the books he drew the illustrations then dictated the text for our au pair Sharon to write; more recently he's been writing his own text (which does prove somewhat problematic in readability).

I am impressed by the school's ability to function in the First Plague Year, and I'm especially impressed by the teacher's ability to control her classroom. Julian does seem to be hitting all of the academic boxes he's supposed to take care of, but I'm still a little worried about his social interaction given that all of his classmates are reduced to stickers on his screen. But he's learning, and that's probably all I can really ask from Zoomtergarten this year.