Rethinking the Purposes of Schooling in a Global Pandemic: From Learning Loss to a Renewed Appreciation for Mourning and Human Excellence

Studies in Philosophy and Education 42 (1):5-16 (2022)
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A main goal of this paper is to complicate “learning loss” as the only, or even the main, thing schools should be concerned about as they respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. While schools have a responsibility to make sure students who are enrolled in school are learning, this cannot come at the cost of ignoring the other substantial losses students are also contending with. Following the work of Jonathan Lear, I make the case that schools should engage students in a process of learning how to mourn for their individual and our collective losses, while also considering ways that school can move beyond narrow conceptions of the purposes of school and to a deeper appreciation for the ways that an education can promote human excellence. As this pandemic wears on, it becomes harder and harder to do anything but endure. One goal of this paper is to serve as a reminder that schools can do more than endure: they can envision new possibilities for schooling that promote conceptions of wellbeing that go beyond fear of learning loss.



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Radical hope: ethics in the face of cultural devastation.Jonathan Lear - 2006 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Meaning in Life and Why It Matters (Markus Rüther).Susan Wolf - 2011 - Philosophischer Literaturanzeiger 64 (3):308.
The Faces of Injustice.Judith N. Shklar - 1990 - Ethics 102 (2):393-395.
A Common Humanity.Raimond Gaita - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (212):468-470.

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