Lessons yet to be learned

Why to design a new education system - Media Ecology Newsletter #14

In the knowledge economy, the education system needs a redesign. In fact, the current school was designed to serve societies that were building their industrial systems. But in the age of knowledge it must serve a new purpose. It must serve the adaptation of society to technological, ecological, economic, social, political, and cultural change: the big shift into the awareness of complexity. This means lifelong learning, knowledge sharing in the community, linking the most up-to-date information and the most strategic human skills.

The papers and findings in this issue of "Media Ecology" show how the cost of carrying on as at present would be unsustainable: 

1. The school was built as a social elevator. The current situation makes school one of the reasons why the poor stay poor and the rich get richer. 

2. The use of digital technologies in schools, which spread to an unprecedented level during the pandemic, seems to be generating unsuccessful results.

3. New formats can be developed by universities and schools to develop a relationship with students that will motivate them more

We will see in this issue more information about the first point. But we will have time to find more information about points two and three and read it in a next issue. This is a learning newsletter.

In the meantime, one can read on my blog about a new paper that seems to show some evidence about how to improve the educational system. Clearly, these opportunities for school improvement will not be seized if we only think about managing the emergency. It is necessary to think beyond that. The pandemic has accelerated processes and changed structures with a certain depth of impact: we cannot think that, once the pandemic is over, everything will go back to the way it was. But this implies that we need to move on as soon as possible from the emergency to planning for the aftermath. Please read: Didattica digitale, il tempo ritrovato (text in Italian, paper’s abstract in English).

Private Schools Have Become Truly Obscene 

Elite schools breed entitlement, entrench inequality—and then pretend to be engines of social change.

Story by Caitlin Flanagan

«A $50,000-a-year school can’t be anything but a very expensive consumer product for the rich» writes Flanagan. «In a just society, an education wouldn’t be a luxury item. Shouldn’t the schools that serve poor children be the very best schools we have?»

School Choice and the Polarization of Public Schools in A Global City

May 2020

Peabody Journal of Education 95(3):229-247

Ee-Seul Yoon, Cosmin Marmureanu, Robert S. Brown

«Over the past three decades, urban sociologists have shed light on the intensifying social inequality between the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods in global cities; yet limited research has been done to illuminate the relationships between urban polarization and school choice. This study sociospatially examines the patterns of secondary school choice in the global city of Toronto to illuminate the relationship between urban polarization and school choice (...). Overall, we found that popular schools and schools with specialized choice programs tend to be located in high-status neighborhoods, defined as neighborhoods with residents in the top 20% of family income, home prices, education attainment, and representation from the dominant culture».

School Choice Policies Shaping Neighborhoods, School Locations, and Destinies

Peabody Journal of Education, 95:3, 203-210. July 2020

Charisse Gulosino, Ee-Seul Yoon

«In this article, we introduce a special collection of research articles that consider the processes and consequences of school choice across different social and spatial contexts in order to better understand the relationship between school choice and stratification in educational opportunity (...) Disadvantaged families who live in poor neighborhoods across North America and around the globe hope their schools will help their children achieve academic success and social mobility, rather than trap them in a vicious cycle of poverty. Indeed, over the past half-century, low-income African American, Latino, and other families of color in underserved areas have witnessed growing income polarization and racial stratification which have left their neighborhoods at the bottom end of the social hierarchy or at the margins of the spatial hierarchy»

New child tax credit could slash poverty now and boost social mobility later

Christopher Pulliam and Richard V. Reeves

Thursday, March 11, 2021

«Child poverty is center stage in current policy debates, at last. Far too many American children grow up poor. One in seven children live in poverty, according to the official poverty measure; one in eight by the supplemental poverty measure (which accounts for government transfers). President Biden has just signed into law a bill that fundamentally restructures the child tax credit for one year as part of a larger relief package (...) The payments are projected to drastically cut child poverty across racial groups, but with particularly large reductions for Black, Hispanic, and Native American children. Similar reductions are expected for the number of children living in deep poverty».

Coronavirus and schools: Reflections on education one year into the pandemic

Daphna Bassok, Lauren Bauer, Stephanie Riegg Cellini, Helen Shwe Hadani, Michael Hansen, Douglas N. Harris, Brad Olsen, Richard V. Reeves, Jon Valant, and Kenneth K. Wong

Friday, March 12, 2021

«One year ago, the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. Reacting to the virus, schools at every level were sent scrambling. Institutions across the world switched to virtual learning, with teachers, students, and local leaders quickly adapting to an entirely new way of life. A year later, schools are beginning to reopen, the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill has been passed, and a sense of normalcy seems to finally be in view (...) But it’s safe to say that COVID-19 will end up changing education forever, casting a critical light on everything from equity issues to ed tech to school financing».

Teens on a Year That Changed Everything 

In words, images and video, teens across the United States show us how they have met life's challenges in the midst of a pandemic. 

March 7, 2021 

What has it been like to be a teenager during the first year of a historic pandemic?  The New York Times, through its Learning Network, asked the question, and more than 5,500 responses poured in.

How schools plan to close the pandemic education gap

Many students fell behind as a result of remote learning. Now, educators are trying to figure out how to catch them up. 

by Chelsea Sheasley

February 24, 2021

(Subscriber-only content)


Research and exploration about gaming in teaching at Fem

A course designed as a series has begun at the Politecnico di Torino. This will serve to make sense of the course being limited to online video. The title is "Hard Times". The course takes stock of the pandemic, before, during and after.

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