By Mikayla Stoodley ’20
With a global pandemic on the rise, there came the dreaded reality that the world would be temporarily shutting down and with it all schools. As students, we returned to our childhood bedrooms to continue our learning, only this time, it would be done through a screen.
Covid-19 has presented many challenges and the idea of completing the school year via our computers was a reality that many of us viewed from a place of fear and bitter indignation. Despite the unprecedented reality of remote learning, our Classical Civilizations class was soon presented with the incredible opportunity to explore a whole new environment through the digital education platform FutureLearn. As a group, we explored a world brought to life by none other than Mathew Nicholls, a Professor of Classics at the University of Reading and Senior Tutor at St John’s College, University of Oxford. He is a specialist in the Roman empire and the history of the city of Rome.
Professor Nicholls invited our class to explore his course and discover the innovation, beauty, and ingenuity of Rome, introducing us to the opportunity to gain a deep intuitive understanding of a place that truly shaped the development and success of modern civilization. As we dove deep into the course we soon felt less and less restricted by the limitations remote learning had once burdened us with. Professor Nicholls’ Rome Course encouraged communication, deep exploration and most importantly, it offered the opportunity for questioning and reflecting to fully understand that which we were studying. Who’s to say the Romans themselves didn’t face obstacles. We can learn from both their mistakes and grand successes, observing their dedication to honouring unity, success, ingenuity, and creativity in order to overcome the hardships with which we have been faced as a civilization.
With Professor Nicholls’ generosity came the opportunity for Lakefield College Schools’ Classical Civilizations course to explore the wondrous mysteries of Rome without leaving the comfort of our homes as we navigated the obstacles that came along with remote learning. This incredible course designed by the professor presented our class with the opportunity to expand our learning through communication and collaboration, offering a remotely interactive experience during times of isolation. As a graduate, I can say that finishing my very last year through remote learning was not something I looked forward to, but I can say, without doubt, Professor Nicholls Rome Course inspired my desire to explore and presented the opportunity to move beyond our childhood bedrooms through the incorporation of visual elements, virtual tours, videos, reading material and so much more.
Professor Nicholls was kind enough to join our last class via Zoom, sharing his inspiration behind the idea as he explained the importance of valuing the historical innovation that has shaped our world today, doing so with a passionate and optimistic mindset despite these difficult times. He left us with the words “Be open-minded” as he encouraged us to move forward in life with the desire to work out the debates around a certain topic, rather than simply searching for the direct answer, much so in line with the values encouraged by that of our LCS Classical Civilizations teacher Bruce McMahon!
As we face the hardships that come along with a global pandemic, we must work through these adversities rather than avoid them. Perhaps exploring Rome from your very living room is the taste of intrigue and hope we need right now.