Israeli mom rants about distance learning, finds fans around the world

"One of my daughter’s teachers is in a dream world and thinks she will get up at 8 a.m. to see him on the screen. At 8 a.m. she just rolls over in bed!"

A child sits at the computer (photo credit: FLICKR)
A child sits at the computer
(photo credit: FLICKR)
"If Corona doesn't kill us, distance learning will!" wailed Ashkelon mom Shiri Kenigsberg Levi in an Instagram post that went viral Wednesday.
But when Levi, who has four kids and teaches Special Ed, stepped out of her crowded apartment to record a video rant about how distance learning during the coronavirus lockdown was driving her nuts, she couldn’t have imagined that her lament would reach parents all over the world.
Her Instagram video was reposted by celebrities such as Sharon Stone and Elizabeth Banks and was shown on the Today Show and written about in the New York Post. It was even translated into Dutch and Chinese.
No honest parent could fail to identify with Levi’s frustration over confusing demands she was getting from her children’s teachers — in what she describes as “millions of WhatsApp messages” — and of her inability to make sure that her four kids were able to get enough time on the family's two computers to do all the assignments.
After only two days, Levi admitted she had reached her breaking point. "They're fighting from the morning over the computers," she said, adding that even getting her kids to sit at the screens for the teaching sessions had become a challenge.

"One of my daughter’s teachers is in a dream world and thinks she will get up at 8 a.m. to see him on the screen. At 8 a.m. she just rolls over in bed!" While Levi tried to make it all work, when her son's music teacher sent over a score, she really lost it. "What am I supposed to do with this? What, do I have a band in the house? I can’t read music! Dial it down, lower the expectations!” she said.
While Israeli daytime television has been full of chirpy experts telling parents how easy it is to create a daily schedule for kids in lockdown with times for studying, exercising, cooking and crafts projects, parents know that in reality, it doesn’t always work out so smoothly.
As parents all over the world grapple with the demands of working from home, helping their kids navigate their distance learning and getting them to look up from screens occasionally, Levi’s honesty struck a chord.
She was interviewed by just about every news outlet in Israel and found herself an overnight international celebrity. In addition to The Today Show and the New York Post, Levi's lament found its way to De Standaard and Nieuwsblad in Holland, and even a Chinese website with the URL Money.Udn.com. In a calmer moment during an interview with Ynet, Levi said that unfortunately she had more experience than she would like with having her children home for days on end because schools in southern Israel have often had to close due to missile attacks from Gaza.
On Thursday, the Education Ministry announced that distance learning was no longer mandatory but voluntary, meaning teachers could do it for free but would not be paid for it. In addition to the problems Levi commented on, the attempt at long-distance teaching was hampered by technical glitches that made it almost impossible to use.
Schooling for the vast majority of Israeli pupils will now be officially over until after the Pesach vacation ends, and, as any parent – certainly Levi -- would be able to tell you, school never really resumes full-speed after that vacation, what with all the holidays and memorials.