May 1, 2020

BONUS EPISODE: Agent Kwame Sarfo-Mensah (Reflections on COVID-19)

Your bonus lesson, should you choose to accept it, is to explore how you think COVID-19 will change education. The special agent assigned to help you with this task is Kwame Sarfo-Mensah, owner and founder of Identity Talk Consulting.

 

I chose to air a bonus episode in addition to Kwame’s full-length interview about teacher identity for two reasons: one, I thought his insights were worth sharing, and two, I liked the idea of creating a record of how COVID-19 has been changing the ways teachers view education. I spoke with Charles Williams at the end of March about this issue for an entire episode, and then spoke with Kwame a little over a month later, though that month felt like it actually lasted several years. In that time, almost all districts have switched to a distance education model, especially for younger students, with mixed results.

 

Moreover, while some parents are seeing their children struggle with distance education or miss school keenly, other parents are seeing their children bloom in a situation where they don’t need to face the racism, homophobia, or ableism that they are forced to deal with daily.

 

Another important change is that larger issues of equity in education have been highlighted publically and sparked mainstream conversations about how learning opportunities are distributed. Many districts seem to be waking up to the fact that just because all students enter the same building every day does not mean that every one of them has equal access to technology, the Internet, and time to try and replicate the school experience at home, not to mention the 1.3 million American students who experience periods of unstable housing.

 

All of this to say, we are having more productive national and international conversations about education than I ever thought possible, and stake holders like parents are looking critically at our education systems now that many of its faults have been exposed. This is not to imply that there are not amazing teachers and districts that are doing wonderful things, and I do want to acknowledge their incredibly hard work. However, unless we’re willing to call out the places where we’re failing students, there’s no way we can change.

 

This excerpt from our conversation begins around at the 24-minute mark of episode twenty.

 

Links:

 

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