“Ring out the old, ring in the new,” goes Tennyson’s poem, “Ring Out Wild Bells.”
Many of us were only too happy to ring out 2020, or maybe give it a firm boot out the door. With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out, we hope for a better year ahead.
But what are we ringing in – the new and better, or the same old? After a year of disruption, the longing to return to the status quo is completely understandable. But if that’s all we do in our schools, it’s an opportunity lost. This year brought us many lessons, including wider awareness of the pervasiveness of systemic racism. We saw both the drawbacks and the potential of online learning, and we also saw how less privileged and higher-needs students suffered disproportionately from the loss of in-person classes. Some students became frustrated and disengaged – but others thrived as they became free to follow their own interests without the social stresses of a classroom. All these experiences and more should lead us to question just what school could and should be as we move beyond the COVID-19 Era.
Through fall/winter 2020, and culminating in this magazine, we tracked the learning that was emerging from the struggle to adapt an education system to pandemic conditions and still provide quality, equitable education (read the whole series on our website). One standout for me was Vidya Shah’s article (p. 15) showing how we can (and why we must) work towards greater equity in education during and beyond the pandemic.
It’s important to acknowledge the huge effort and serious stress that educators at every level of the system have shouldered during this crisis. But now we have a chance to look forward, to ring in the new. In our spring issue, EdCan will explore how the UN Sustainable Development Goals can be used to engage students with global and local issues and help them acquire essential competencies. And in June, we invite contributors to share their vision for the (near) future of education. How can we create a schooling experience that truly prepares today’s students to build tomorrow’s world?
Photo: Adobe Stock
First published in Education Canada, January 2021
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