I am writing these lines on Lockdown Day #60, confined at home, and listening to the Berlin Philharmonic performing Shostakovich at their Digital Concert Hall after having had a family video call. For all of us, the work and day-to-day environment has changed so much. It has now been long enough to start recognising which things won’t go back to how they were, and maybe, to distinguish those that will endure in a post-COVID-19 world.
As with many sectors, education changed overnight. Schools closed their doors with only twenty-four hours’ notice and the summer term started online. However, changes in education are generally slow and need time to settle down. There is a lack of computers and good internet connection in many households. A significant number of teachers are not familiar with eLearning tools; educational contents and resources aren’t all available online. Primarily, education was conceived as an activity where human relationships formed an essential part of its purpose.
On the other hand, there are obvious opportunities in digitalising education; youngsters socialise and consume mainly digital content, students can explore their own learning process and some schools had long adopted flipped classroom methodologies, to mention a few.
So, while there is a digital divide, and digital availability is a real threat, those changes are here to stay. Soon, education – accelerated through COVID-19 necessity – will no longer be solely in person or online. It will be in a more fluid state and will move from one medium to another immediately and continuously. Institutions, academic directors, teachers, and students need to adapt to this new situation, and that is what Anthesis is are currently helping to do.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Education for Sustainable Development and Eco-social Education fit naturally in to this new ‘liminal space’, as its purpose is providing meaningful learning to become informed, active and action-orientated citizens. Within this mental framework, one-way master classes and immutable truths do not fit well, but discussing current and emerging issues, inquiry-based and open questions and personal and collective insights do.
Moreover, the COVID-19 crisis has provided us with a chance to introduce a handful of significant learnings for schools, such as:
- One Health and the interdependence between human, animal and environmental health.
- Preserving Biodiversity and mitigating the Sixth Extinction.
- Collateral effects of the Lockdown in the air quality, drop of emissions, noise reduction and recolonisation of species in urban areas.
- The globalisation of production and trade, the patterns of consumption, and the role of gender leadership in dealing with the crisis.
It is still early to forecast if this period is truly ‘liminal’, but we have the chance to reflect on it and to do our best to make it happen. As Howard Zinn quoted:
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasise in this complex history will determine our lives. To live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory.”