Redefining Post-Covid Education
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This is my post no.10, the last in the BlogChatter Marathon. I chose the theme of education for the exercise and portioned out different topics to consider each day, happy I could follow it. This is the time, everything in life is affected by Covid, so I took care to include its aspect into my theme. All those I have titled in my first post --New Challenges of Education at the Covid time. They were not long posts, a cursory touch of certain aspects.
Education is not an easy matter, and no educational theory is a complete answer to the pedagogical questions, how a teacher teaches, for a child to learn everything. The theorists formulated the theories based on what they thought was the nature of the subject, humans, and the world. I have highlighted this in my posts.
The present world is not a homogenous one but controlled by different interests--economy, race, caste, colour, region, culture, science, politics, technology, neoliberalism, market, globalism, technology. The strike of the pandemic aggravated all kinds of already existed imbalances in the control equations already existed. Among the new imbalances unfolding, the moral dilemmas are plenty; curtailing human freedom through physical distancing, closing boundaries and borders between nations, emotional isolation of the individuals, resulting in poor mental health and welfare. Nation's economy collapsed in some cases recovery a long pipe dream, individual's income follows suit, the lockdown restrictions cut down the number of regular and casual jobs. Then the divide between the people due to income, status, social, digital, gender, age, markets, etc, multiplied manifold.
The hardest-hit dimension is that of education, globally and nationally. How can the government and the experts redefine education is an important concern.
My answer is based on two essays. One Covid19 Pandemic and the Prospects of Education in South Africa by Lesly Le Grange, Department of Curriculum Studies, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
His essay is based on the International Handbook of Curriculum Reserch, Pinar (2014). The four concerns he addresses here are; moral dimension of education, race, technologies of surveillance, bio-informationism, neo-liberalism and the prospect of education after the Covid-19 pandemic: and why they need Ubuntu Currere. I consider them only in brief.
Education is a moral dimension-not in a didactic sense of teachers teaching learners morality but the commitment to teacher's ethics that make them committed to "engage in an ongoing basis, with the worthiness of knowledge--that is, with the worthiness of what education programmes include and/or include." In that engagement, the teachers should understand and investigate how the ongoing discriminations of all kinds that continue to plague education are applied and accelerated.
On the worthiness of knowledge, he cites; in the case of school biology, if considered as the 'science of life ' and not the 'science of living', what learners were taught was contents not related to contemporary issues facing society; human trafficking, biodiversity losses, the commodification of the genetic code among other things and sustainability.
Studying animals concerning sustainability, the learners 'could investigate what sustains an animal in fulfilling its ecological role or occupying its niche...". It develops among the learners a new way of thinking about biology, a new frame of the mind, he quotes, "a general mode of engagement with the world through which the world as a whole is revealed to us." This requires a new cognitive outlook and a mode of sensibility.
On the race issue, he cites, subtle forms of racism can emerge as the technologies of surveillance will advance in the covid and post-covid times. The Covid 19 pandemic has bared the underbelly of the society and the role of the government in maintaining it that way. The underlying cause of much of the inequality and deprivation is the dominance of neoliberal capitalism.
He suggests if we have to "free ourselves from the fetters of neoliberal capitalism, we have to live in harmony with one another and the more/other-than-human world." He calls this idea Ubuntu Currere "that makes possible an education that is a life-long affair of experimentation with the real--experimentation constrained only by life itself.
"Ubuntu is derived from aphorism in the Nguni languages of South Africa, which means that our being and becoming is dependent on others." or "because we are, therefore I am." This is in contrast with what Descartes said, "I think; therefore I am."
The second essay I want to refer to is The Indian Education System's Obsession with Merits and Status quo.
This becomes important in the Covid and post-Covid times because it highlights the education issues of learners from deprived backgrounds. An education system fetish about the merits and status-quo remains beyond the grasp of a section of the population deliberately pushed back due to none of their mistakes-- the materially impoverished state of life does not give them enough language and vocabulary needed to grasp the knowledge, their birthright. They come from ill-equipped schools that give them only the vernacular that makes them handicapped to compete with the English learning in the advanced section of the people.
Everybody knows this problem. All the curriculum concerns mentioned in the first essay in redefining post-Covid education are applicable in the second case also. They are workable, provided the authorities have a new mindset, a thinking 'mode of sensibility.'
Post No. 10 part of BlogChatter Half Marathon