We are now well and truly into our first week back at our virtual school and what seemed an unthinkable way of teaching and learning is now becoming familiar; the new normal. As I think about this oxymoron, I am fascinated about how we are using language to express what is happening and the emotions we feel.
Lexicographers are studying the words we are using in the time of COVID-19. Words matter – they provide comfort and order amid chaos, as John Kelly, Senior Research Editor of Dictionary.com writes. In a PSHE lesson today, we looked at the word ‘unprecedented’ and just how many times this had come up. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. As an English teacher, I wince at the idea of overusing a word but find myself as guilty as the next in employing this stock phrase. I was trying to explain to my PSHE group that in these singular circumstances we might want to stop and reflect upon how this all feels. Diary writing might have gone out of fashion for teenagers these days but now perhaps more than ever might just be the perfect moment put good old-fashioned pen to paper and, starting with today’s date, capture this moment: where we are; who we are with; what we are doing and what we are feeling about it all. When our future selves look back, it will be fascinating to remember these extraordinary times and how we coped.