Go ahead and turn your microphone on

The number 4! The number 4! The number 4! And, "virtual kindergarten." Plus 7 other things worth your time.

For today’s email newsletter, I’d like to share…

Wait, this might be more fun if I were to just dive in, and put it in context afterward.

Teacher:

The number 4!

Oh! I see Brit is holding up 2 and 2. That will also make 4!

I see 4 and zero! That is 4!

What kind of pictures do we see over on our number 4?

Can you raise your hand?

What’s a picture that you see over our number 4?

Grayson! Go ahead and turn your microphone on for me.

What kind of picture do we see?

Hmmmm.

Can you get your microphone on? So we can hear you?

Yeah, what’s the picture that you see, Grayson?

Grayson:

For some reason it wasn’t working.

Teacher:

Oh, but do you have it working now? It sounds like I can hear you.

Grayson:

Yeah.

Teacher:

So what’s the picture that you see?

Grayson:

I see a class of kids.

Teacher:

Oh my good—!

Welcome to Virtual Kindergarten, pandemic-style, 2020.

The transcript comes from a Twitter-ized version of a TikTok video, apparently filmed by a kindergarten teacher, and which millions of people have watched over the last couple of days.

Look, I’m on record in this newsletter as being, shall we say, a big skeptic of virtual classrooms, especially for younger grades.

But after watching this, and about 20 other similar virtual teacher videos, and having had the experience of watching my daughter’s virtual classroom — I wanted to take a moment to give teachers their well-earned due.

There’s nobody really to blame for our current situation, with kids unable to go to school in many places. It’s a global pandemic, what can you do?

I’m still in the camp that says I’d rather prioritize safety. But still, that doesn’t mean anybody has to like it.

So, bottom line: thanks to all the teachers who are really trying hard, and doing a job that I would probably never be able to do very well. My grumbling about the situation isn’t at all a reflection on what I think of you.

Oh, and to the Graysons of the word? C’mon buddy. Let’s learn to turn on your microphone.

7 other things worth your time

  • Ever wanted a giant T-Rex skeleton? There’s a complete one up for auction. Expected price: between $6 million and $8 million. (CNN)

  • Never forget? A fairly shocking new study says 23 percent of Americans aged 18 to 39 think the Holocaust was a myth, nearly half can’t name any of the Nazi concentration camps, and 12 percent have never heard of the Holocaust at all. (The Guardian)

  • The Big 10 college football conference says it will play this season after all, starting in late October. (ESPN)

  • The Caribbean country of Barbados says it will remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state. "The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," the government said. (BBC)

  • The U.S. military considered using a controversial “heat ray,” designed to make it feel as if your skin is burning, on American protestors in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. “It uses millimeter wave technology to essentially heat the skin of people targeted by its invisible ray,” a report said. (NPR)

  • Wondering who might play Joe Biden on Saturday Night Live this fall? Apparently: Jim Carrey. (LA Times)

  • Almost 60 percent of U.S. business closures due to the pandemic are now permanent, according to Yelp. (NBC News)

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