In the past couple of days, it feels like the coronavirus crisis has escalated to an unprecedented level. In reality, statistics of the spread have not changed that drastically. However, the response has generated some swift and drastic measures such as the NBA and NCAA sports being suspended, conferences being canceled, Disneyland and cruise ships closing, and universities shutting their campuses and moving all classes online for the rest of the semester.
This just happened with my university, and now all of us professors have a steep learning curve to transition to an entirely new platform mid-semester (many of us have never taught online before).
What is often lost in the midst of all this, however, is not just the left-brain, scientific, practical ways to handle the pandemic; it is the emotional intelligence side of all of this.
To continue with the university example, it is very easy for professors to get immersed in the logistics of how to suddenly learn to deliver online classes. But in the meanwhile, we may forget that our students are worried about things like losing their on-campus job, which leads to their inability to pay off their tuition, which means they might not graduate.
Being a good professor means that we not only become good deliverers of online content but good shepherds of our students’ well-being. Ironically, teaching an online class actually requires us to be more pastoral than teaching in-person.
What is driving much of these drastic responses is emotions and fear.
Fear and emotions can be good things, as they are designed to protect us from things that may harm us (in fact, I do think that using the “sledgehammer to kill the fly” approach may actually be warranted right now to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the coronavirus—but that’s a whole other conversation).
One unfortunate side-effect of this global pandemic is racism.
Rather than something like this bringing the world together to unite against a common enemy, it is easy to make some people the scapegoat; in this case, people of Asian descent.
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