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The “new normal” in education

Abstract

Effects rippling from the Covid 19 emergency include changes in the personal, social, and economic spheres. Are there continuities as well? Based on a literature review (primarily of UNESCO and OECD publications and their critics), the following question is posed: How can one resist the slide into passive technologization and seize the possibility of achieving a responsive, ethical, humane, and international-transformational approach to education? Technologization, while an ongoing and evidently ever-intensifying tendency, is not without its critics, especially those associated with the humanistic tradition in education. This is more apparent now that curriculum is being conceived as a complicated conversation. In a complex and unequal world, the well-being of students requires diverse and even conflicting visions of the world, its problems, and the forms of knowledge we study to address them.

From the past, we might find our way to a future unforeclosed by the present (Pinar 2019, p. 12)

Texts regarding this pandemic’s consequences are appearing at an accelerating pace, with constant coverage by news outlets, as well as philosophical, historical, and sociological reflections by public intellectuals worldwide. Ripples from the current emergency have spread into the personal, social, and economic spheres. But are there continuities as well? Is the pandemic creating a “new normal” in education or simply accenting what has already become normal—an accelerating tendency toward technologization? This tendency presents an important challenge for education, requiring a critical vision of post-Covid-19 curriculum. One must pose an additional question: How can one resist the slide into passive technologization and seize the possibility of achieving a responsive, ethical, humane, and international-transformational approach to education?

The ongoing present

Unpredicted except through science fiction, movie scripts, and novels, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everyday life, caused wide-scale illness and death, and provoked preventive measures like social distancing, confinement, and school closures. It has struck disproportionately at those who provide essential services and those unable to work remotely; in an already precarious marketplace, unemployment is having terrible consequences. The pandemic is now the chief sign of both globalization and deglobalization, as nations close borders and airports sit empty. There are no departures, no delays. Everything has changed, and no one was prepared. The pandemic has disrupted the flow of time and unraveled what was normal. It is the emergence of an event (think of Badiou 2009) that restarts time, creates radical ruptures and imbalances, and brings about a contingency that becomes a new necessity (Žižek 2020). Such events question the ongoing present.

The pandemic has reshuffled our needs, which are now based on a new order. Whether of short or medium duration, will it end in a return to the “normal” or move us into an unknown future? Žižek contends that “there is no return to normal, the new ‘normal’ will have to be constructed on the ruins of our old lives, or we will find ourselves in a new barbarism whose signs are already clearly discernible” (Žižek 2020, p. 3).

Despite public health measures, Gil (2020) observes that the pandemic has so far generated no physical or spiritual upheaval and no universal awareness of the need to change how we live. Techno-capitalism continues to work, though perhaps not as before. Online sales increase and professionals work from home, thereby creating new digital subjectivities and economies. We will not escape the pull of self-preservation, self-regeneration, and the metamorphosis of capitalism, which will continue its permanent revolution (Wells 2020). In adapting subjectivities to the recent demands of digital capitalism, the pandemic can catapult us into an even more thoroughly digitalized space, a trend that artificial intelligence will accelerate. These new subjectivities will exhibit increased capacities for voluntary obedience and programmable functioning abilities, leading to a “new normal” benefiting those who are savvy in software-structured social relationships.

The Covid-19 pandemic has submerged us all in the tsunami-like economies of the Cloud. There is an intensification of the allegro rhythm of adaptation to the Internet of Things (Davies, Beauchamp, Davies, and Price 2019). For Latour (2020), the pandemic has become internalized as an ongoing state of emergency preparing us for the next crisis—climate change—for which we will see just how (un)prepared we are. Along with inequality, climate is one of the most pressing issues of our time (OECD 2019a, 2019b) and therefore its representation in the curriculum is of public, not just private, interest.

Education both reflects what is now and anticipates what is next, recoding private and public responses to crises. Žižek (2020, p. 117) suggests in this regard that “values and beliefs should not be simply ignored: they play an important role and should be treated as a specific mode of assemblage”. As such, education is (post)human and has its (over)determination by beliefs and values, themselves encoded in technology.

Will the pandemic detoxify our addiction to technology, or will it cement that addiction? Pinar (2019, pp. 14–15) suggests that “this idea—that technological advance can overcome cultural, economic, educational crises—has faded into the background. It is our assumption. Our faith prompts the purchase of new technology and assures we can cure climate change”. While waiting for technology to rescue us, we might also remember to look at ourselves. In this way, the pandemic could be a starting point for a more sustainable environment. An intelligent response to climate change, reactivating the humanistic tradition in education, would reaffirm the right to such an education as a global common good (UNESCO 2015a, p. 10):

This approach emphasizes the inclusion of people who are often subject to discrimination – women and girls, indigenous people, persons with disabilities, migrants, the elderly and people living in countries affected by conflict. It requires an open and flexible approach to learning that is both lifelong and life-wide: an approach that provides the opportunity for all to realize their potential for a sustainable future and a life of dignity”.

Pinar (2004, 2009, 2019) concevies of curriculum as a complicated conversation. Central to that complicated conversation is climate change, which drives the need for education for sustainable development and the grooming of new global citizens with sustainable lifestyles and exemplary environmental custodianship (Marope 2017).

The new normal

The pandemic ushers in a “new” normal, in which digitization enforces ways of working and learning. It forces education further into technologization, a development already well underway, fueled by commercialism and the reigning market ideology. Daniel (2020, p. 1) notes that “many institutions had plans to make greater use of technology in teaching, but the outbreak of Covid-19 has meant that changes intended to occur over months or years had to be implemented in a few days”.

Is this “new normal” really new or is it a reiteration of the old?

Digital technologies are the visible face of the immediate changes taking place in society—the commercial society—and schools. The immediate solution to the closure of schools is distance learning, with platforms proliferating and knowledge demoted to information to be exchanged (Koopman 2019), like a product, a phenomenon predicted decades ago by Lyotard (1984, pp. 4-5):

Knowledge is and will be produced in order to be sold, it is and will be consumed in order to be valued in a new production: in both cases, the goal is exchange. Knowledge ceases to be an end in itself, it loses its use-value.

Digital technologies and economic rationality based on performance are significant determinants of the commercialization of learning. Moving from physical face-to-face presence to virtual contact (synchronous and asynchronous), the learning space becomes disembodied, virtual not actual, impacting both student learning and the organization of schools, which are no longer buildings but websites. Such change is not only coterminous with the pandemic, as the Education 2030 Agenda (UNESCO 2015b) testified; preceding that was the Delors Report (Delors 1996), which recoded education as lifelong learning that included learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together.

Transnational organizations have specified competences for the 21st century and, in the process, have defined disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge that encourages global citizenship, through “the supra curriculum at the global, regional, or international comparative level” (Marope 2017, p. 10). According to UNESCO (2017):

While the world may be increasingly interconnected, human rights violations, inequality and poverty still threaten peace and sustainability. Global Citizenship Education (GCED) is UNESCO’s response to these challenges. It works by empowering learners of all ages to understand that these are global, not local issues and to become active promoters of more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable societies.

These transnational initiatives have not only acknowledged traditional school subjects but have also shifted the curriculum toward timely topics dedicated to understanding the emergencies of the day (Spiller 2017). However, for the OECD (2019a), the “new normal” accentuates two ideas: competence-based education, which includes the knowledges identified in the Delors Report, and a new learning framework structured by digital technologies. The Covid-19 pandemic does not change this logic. Indeed, the interdisciplinary skills framework, content and standardized testing associated with the Programme for International Student Assessment of the OECD has become the most powerful tool for prescribing the curriculum. Educationally, “the universal homogenous ‘state’ exists already. Globalization of standardized testing—the most prominent instance of threatening to restructure schools into technological sites of political socialization, conditioning children for compliance to a universal homogeneous state of mind” (Pinar 2019, p. 2).

In addition to cognitive and practical skills, this “homogenous state of mind” rests on so-called social and emotional skills in the service of learning to live together, affirming global citizenship, and presumably returning agency to students and teachers (OECD 2019a). According to Marope (2017, p. 22), “this calls for higher flexibility in curriculum development, and for the need to leave space for curricula interpretation, contextualization, and creativity at the micro level of teachers and classrooms”. Heterogeneity is thus enlisted in the service of both economic homogeneity and disciplinary knowledge. Disciplinary knowledge is presented as universal and endowed with social, moral, and cognitive authority. Operational and effective knowledge becomes central, due to the influence of financial lobbies, thereby ensuring that the logic of the market is brought into the practices of schools. As Pestre (2013, p. 21) observed, “the nature of this knowledge is new: what matters is that it makes hic et nunc the action, its effect and not its understanding”. Its functionality follows (presumably) data and evidence-based management.

A new language is thus imposed on education and the curriculum. Such enforced installation of performative language and Big Data lead to effective and profitable operations in a vast market concerned with competence in operational skills (Lyotard 1984). This “new normal” curriculum is said to be more horizontal and less hierarchical and radically polycentric with problem-solving produced through social networks, NGOs, transnational organizations, and think tanks (Pestre 2013; Williamson 2013, 2017). Untouched by the pandemic, the “new (old) normal” remains based on disciplinary knowledge and enmeshed in the discourse of standards and accountability in education.

Such enforced commercialism reflects and reinforces economic globalization. Pinar (2011, p. 30) worries that “the globalization of instrumental rationality in education threatens the very existence of education itself”. In his theory, commercialism and the technical instrumentality by which homogenization advances erase education as an embodied experience and the curriculum as a humanistic project. It is a time in which the humanities are devalued as well, as acknowledged by Pinar (2019, p. 19): “In the United States [and in the world] not only does economics replace education—STEM replace the liberal arts as central to the curriculum—there are even politicians who attack the liberal arts as subversive and irrelevant…it can be more precisely characterized as reckless rhetoric of a know-nothing populism”. Replacing in-person dialogical encounters and the educational cultivation of the person (via Bildung and currere), digital technologies are creating uniformity of learning spaces, in spite of their individualistic tendencies. Of course, education occurs outside schools—and on occasion in schools—but this causal displacement of the centrality of the school implies a devaluation of academic knowledge in the name of diversification of learning spaces.

In society, education, and specifically in the curriculum, the pandemic has brought nothing new but rather has accelerated already existing trends that can be summarized as technologization. Those who can work “remotely” exercise their privilege, since they can exploit an increasingly digital society. They themselves are changed in the process, as their own subjectivities are digitalized, thus predisposing them to a “curriculum of things” (a term coined by Laist (2016) to describe an object-oriented pedagogical approach), which is organized not around knowledge but information (Koopman 2019; Couldry and Mejias 2019). This (old) “new normal” was advanced by the OECD, among other international organizations, thus precipitating what some see as “a dynamic and transformative articulation of collective expectations of the purpose, quality, and relevance of education and learning to holistic, inclusive, just, peaceful, and sustainable development, and to the well-being and fulfilment of current and future generations” (Marope 2017, p. 13). Covid-19, illiberal democracy, economic nationalism, and inaction on climate change, all upend this promise.

Understanding the psychological and cultural complexity of the curriculum is crucial. Without appreciating the infinity of responses students have to what they study, one cannot engage in the complicated conversation that is the curriculum. There must be an affirmation of “not only the individualism of a person’s experience but [of what is] underlining the significance of a person’s response to a course of study that has been designed to ignore individuality in order to buttress nation, religion, ethnicity, family, and gender” (Grumet 2017, p. 77). Rather than promoting neuroscience as the answer to the problems of curriculum and pedagogy, it is long-past time for rethinking curriculum development and addressing the canonical curriculum question: What knowledge is of most worth from a humanistic perspective that is structured by complicated conversation (UNESCO 2015a; Pinar 2004, 2019)? It promotes respect for diversity and rejection of all forms of (cultural) hegemony, stereotypes, and biases (Pacheco 2009, 2017).

Revisiting the curriculum in the Covid-19 era then expresses the fallacy of the “new normal” but also represents a particular opportunity to promote a different path forward.

Looking to the post-Covid-19 curriculum

Based on the notion of curriculum as a complicated conversation, as proposed by Pinar (2004), the post-Covid-19 curriculum can seize the possibility of achieving a responsive, ethical, humane education, one which requires a humanistic and internationally aware reconceptualization of curriculum.

While beliefs and values are anchored in social and individual practices (Pinar 2019, p. 15), education extracts them for critique and reconsideration. For example, freedom and tolerance are not neutral but normative practices, however ideology-free policymakers imagine them to be.

That same sleight-of-hand—value neutrality in the service of a certain normativity—is evident in a digital concept of society as a relationship between humans and non-humans (or posthumans), a relationship not only mediated by but encapsulated within technology: machines interfacing with other machines. This is not merely a technological change, as if it were a quarantined domain severed from society. Technologization is a totalizing digitalization of human experience that includes the structures of society. It is less social than economic, with social bonds now recoded as financial transactions sutured by software. Now that subjectivity is digitalized, the human face has become an exclusively economic one that fabricates the fantasy of rational and free agents—always self-interested—operating in supposedly free markets. Oddly enough, there is no place for a vision of humanistic and internationally aware change. The technological dimension of curriculum is assumed to be the primary area of change, which has been deeply and totally imposed by global standards. The worldwide pandemic supports arguments for imposing forms of control (Žižek 2020), including the geolocation of infected people and the suspension—in a state of exception—of civil liberties.

By destroying democracy, the technology of control leads to totalitarianism and barbarism, ending tolerance, difference, and diversity. Remembrance and memory are needed so that historical fascisms (Eley 2020) are not repeated, albeit in new disguises (Adorno 2011). Technologized education enhances efficiency and ensures uniformity, while presuming objectivity to the detriment of human reflection and singularity. It imposes the running data of the Curriculum of Things and eschews intellectual endeavor, critical attitude, and self-reflexivity.

For those who advocate the primacy of technology and the so-called “free market”, the pandemic represents opportunities not only for profit but also for confirmation of the pervasiveness of human error and proof of the efficiency of the non-human, i.e., the inhuman technology. What may possibly protect children from this inhumanity and their commodification, as human capital, is a humane or humanistic education that contradicts their commodification.

The decontextualized technical vocabulary in use in a market society produces an undifferentiated image in which people are blinded to nuance, distinction, and subtlety. For Pestre, concepts associated with efficiency convey the primacy of economic activity to the exclusion, for instance, of ethics, since those concepts devalue historic (if unrealized) commitments to equality and fraternity by instead emphasizing economic freedom and the autonomy of self-interested individuals. Constructing education as solely economic and technological constitutes a movement toward total efficiency through the installation of uniformity of behavior, devaluing diversity and human creativity.

Erased from the screen is any image of public education as a space of freedom, or as Macdonald (1995, p. 38) holds, any image or concept of “the dignity and integrity of each human”. Instead, what we face is the post-human and the undisputed reign of instrumental reality, where the ends justify the means and human realization is reduced to the consumption of goods and experiences. As Pinar (2019, p. 7) observes: “In the private sphere…. freedom is recast as a choice of consumer goods; in the public sphere, it converts to control and the demand that freedom flourish, so that whatever is profitable can be pursued”. Such “negative” freedom—freedom from constraint—ignores “positive” freedom, which requires us to contemplate—in ethical and spiritual terms—what that freedom is for. To contemplate what freedom is for requires “critical and comprehensive knowledge” (Pestre 2013, p. 39) not only instrumental and technical knowledge. The humanities and the arts would reoccupy the center of such a curriculum and not be related to its margins (Westbury 2008), acknowledging that what is studied within schools is a complicated conversation among those present—including oneself, one’s ancestors, and those yet to be born (Pinar 2004).

In an era of unconstrained technologization, the challenge facing the curriculum is coding and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), with technology dislodging those subjects related to the human. This is not a classical curriculum (although it could be) but one focused on the emergencies of the moment–namely, climate change, the pandemic, mass migration, right-wing populism, and economic inequality. These timely topics, which in secondary school could be taught as short courses and at the elementary level as thematic units, would be informed by the traditional school subjects (yes, including STEM). Such a reorganization of the curriculum would allow students to see how academic knowledge enables them to understand what is happening to them and their parents in their own regions and globally. Such a cosmopolitan curriculum would prepare children to become citizens not only of their own nations but of the world. This citizenship would simultaneously be subjective and social, singular and universal (Marope 2020). Pinar (2019, p. 5) reminds us that “the division between private and public was first blurred then erased by technology”:

No longer public, let alone sacred, morality becomes a matter of privately held values, sometimes monetized as commodities, statements of personal preference, often ornamental, sometimes self-servingly instrumental. Whatever their function, values were to be confined to the private sphere. The public sphere was no longer the civic square but rather, the marketplace, the site where one purchased whatever one valued.

New technological spaces are the universal center for (in)human values. The civic square is now Amazon, Alibaba, Twitter, WeChat, and other global online corporations. The facts of our human condition—a century-old phrase uncanny in its echoes today—can be studied in schools as an interdisciplinary complicated conversation about public issues that eclipse private ones (Pinar 2019), including social injustice, inequality, democracy, climate change, refugees, immigrants, and minority groups. Understood as a responsive, ethical, humane and transformational international educational approach, such a post-Covid-19 curriculum could be a “force for social equity, justice, cohesion, stability, and peace” (Marope 2017, p. 32). “Unchosen” is certainly the adjective describing our obligations now, as we are surrounded by death and dying and threatened by privation or even starvation, as economies collapse and food-supply chains are broken. The pandemic may not mean deglobalization, but it surely accentuates it, as national borders are closed, international travel is suspended, and international trade is impacted by the accompanying economic crisis. On the other hand, economic globalization could return even stronger, as could the globalization of education systems. The “new normal” in education is the technological order—a passive technologization—and its expansion continues uncontested and even accelerated by the pandemic.

Two Greek concepts, kronos and kairos, allow a discussion of contrasts between the quantitative and the qualitative in education. Echoing the ancient notion of kronos are the technologically structured curriculum values of quantity and performance, which are always assessed by a standardized accountability system enforcing an “ideology of achievement”. “While kronos refers to chronological or sequential time, kairos refers to time that might require waiting patiently for a long time or immediate and rapid action; which course of action one chooses will depend on the particular situation” (Lahtinen 2009, p. 252).

For Macdonald (1995, p. 51), “the central ideology of the schools is the ideology of achievement …[It] is a quantitative ideology, for even to attempt to assess quality must be quantified under this ideology, and the educational process is perceived as a technically monitored quality control process”.

Self-evaluation subjectively internalizes what is useful and in conformity with the techno-economy and its so-called standards, increasingly enforcing technical (software) forms. If recoded as the Internet of Things, this remains a curriculum in allegiance with “order and control” (Doll 2013, p. 314) School knowledge is reduced to an instrument for economic success, employing compulsory collaboration to ensure group think and conformity. Intertwined with the Internet of Things, technological subjectivity becomes embedded in software, redesigned for effectiveness, i.e., or use-value (as Lyotard predicted).

The Curriculum of Things dominates the Internet, which is simultaneously an object and a thing (see Heidegger 1967, 1971, 1977), a powerful “technological tool for the process of knowledge building” (Means 2008, p. 137). Online learning occupies the subjective zone between the “curriculum-as-planned” and the “curriculum-as-lived” (Pinar 2019, p. 23). The world of the curriculum-as-lived fades, as the screen shifts and children are enmeshed in an ocularcentric system of accountability and instrumentality.

In contrast to kronos, the Greek concept of kairos implies lived time or even slow time (Koepnick 2014), time that is “self-reflective” (Macdonald 1995, p. 103) and autobiographical (Pinar 2009, 2004), thus inspiring “curriculum improvisation” (Aoki 2011, p. 375), while emphasizing “the plurality of subjectivities” (Grumet 2017, p. 80). Kairos emphasizes singularity and acknowledges particularities; it is skeptical of similarities. For Shew (2013, p. 48), “kairos is that which opens an originary experience—of the divine, perhaps, but also of life or being. Thought as such, kairos as a formative happening—an opportune moment, crisis, circumstance, event—imposes its own sense of measure on time”. So conceived, curriculum can become a complicated conversation that occurs not in chronological time but in its own time. Such dialogue is not neutral, apolitical, or timeless. It focuses on the present and is intrinsically subjective, even in public space, as Pinar (2019, p. 12) writes: “its site is subjectivity as one attunes oneself to what one is experiencing, yes to its immediacy and specificity but also to its situatedness, relatedness, including to what lies beyond it and not only spatially but temporally”.

Kairos is, then, the uniqueness of time that converts curriculum into a complicated conversation, one that includes the subjective reconstruction of learning as a consciousness of everyday life, encouraging the inner activism of quietude and disquietude. Writing about eternity, as an orientation towards the future, Pinar (2019, p. 2) argues that “the second side [the first is contemplation] of such consciousness is immersion in daily life, the activism of quietude – for example, ethical engagement with others”. We add disquietude now, following the work of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Disquietude is a moment of eternity: “Sometimes I think I’ll never leave ‘Douradores’ Street. And having written this, it seems to me eternity. Neither pleasure, nor glory, nor power. Freedom, only freedom” (Pesssoa 1991).

The disquietude conversation is simultaneously individual and public. It establishes an international space both deglobalized and autonomous, a source of responsive, ethical, and humane encounter. No longer entranced by the distracting dynamic stasis of image-after-image on the screen, the student can face what is his or her emplacement in the physical and natural world, as well as the technological world. The student can become present as a person, here and now, simultaneously historical and timeless.

Conclusions

Slow down and linger should be our motto now. A slogan yes, but it also represents a political, as well as a psychological resistance to the acceleration of time (Berg and Seeber 2016)—an acceleration that the pandemic has intensified. Covid-19 has moved curriculum online, forcing children physically apart from each other and from their teachers and especially from the in-person dialogical encounters that classrooms can provide. The public space disappears into the pre-designed screen space that software allows, and the machine now becomes the material basis for a curriculum of things, not persons. Like the virus, the pandemic curriculum becomes embedded in devices that technologize our children.

Although one hundred years old, the images created in Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin return, less humorous this time than emblematic of our intensifying subjection to technological necessity. It “would seem to leave us as cogs in the machine, ourselves like moving parts, we keep functioning efficiently, increasing productivity calculating the creative destruction of what is, the human now materialized (de)vices ensnaring us in convenience, connectivity, calculation” (Pinar 2019, p. 9). Post-human, as many would say.

Technology supports standardized testing and enforces software-designed conformity and never-ending self-evaluation, while all the time erasing lived, embodied experience and intellectual independence. Ignoring the evidence, others are sure that technology can function differently: “Given the potential of information and communication technologies, the teacher should now be a guide who enables learners, from early childhood throughout their learning trajectories, to develop and advance through the constantly expanding maze of knowledge” (UNESCO 2015a, p. 51). Would that it were so.

The canonical question—What knowledge is of most worth?—is open-ended and contentious. In a technologized world, providing for the well-being of children is not obvious, as well-being is embedded in ancient, non-neoliberal visions of the world. “Education is everybody’s business”, Pinar (2019, p. 2) points out, as it fosters “responsible citizenship and solidarity in a global world” (UNESCO 2015a, p. 66), resisting inequality and the exclusion, for example, of migrant groups, refugees, and even those who live below or on the edge of poverty.

In this fast-moving digital world, education needs to be inclusive but not conformist. As the United Nations (2015) declares, education should ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. “The coming years will be a vital period to save the planet and to achieve sustainable, inclusive human development” (United Nations 2019, p. 64). Is such sustainable, inclusive human development achievable through technologization? Can technology succeed where religion has failed?

Despite its contradictions and economic emphases, public education has one clear obligation—to create embodied encounters of learning through curriculum conceived as a complicated conversation. Such a conception acknowledges the worldliness of a cosmopolitan curriculum as it affirms the personification of the individual (Pinar 2011). As noted by Grumet (2017, p. 89), “as a form of ethics, there is a responsibility to participate in conversation”. Certainly, it is necessary to ask over and over again the canonical curriculum question: What knowledge is of most worth?

If time, technology and teaching are moving images of eternity, curriculum and pedagogy are also, both ‘moving’ and ‘images’ but not an explicit, empirical, or exact representation of eternity…if reality is an endless series of ‘moving images’, the canonical curriculum question—What knowledge is of most worth?—cannot be settled for all time by declaring one set of subjects eternally important” (Pinar 2019, p. 12).

In a complicated conversation, the curriculum is not a fixed image sliding into a passive technologization. As a “moving image”, the curriculum constitutes a politics of presence, an ongoing expression of subjectivity (Grumet 2017) that affirms the infinity of reality: “Shifting one’s attitude from ‘reducing’ complexity to ‘embracing’ what is always already present in relations and interactions may lead to thinking complexly, abiding happily with mystery” (Doll 2012, p. 172). Describing the dialogical encounter characterizing conceived curriculum, as a complicated conversation, Pinar explains that this moment of dialogue “is not only place-sensitive (perhaps classroom centered) but also within oneself”, because “the educational significance of subject matter is that it enables the student to learn from actual embodied experience, an outcome that cannot always be engineered” (Pinar 2019, pp. 12–13). Lived experience is not technological. So, “the curriculum of the future is not just a matter of defining content and official knowledge. It is about creating, sculpting, and finessing minds, mentalities, and identities, promoting style of thought about humans, or ‘mashing up’ and ‘making up’ the future of people” (Williamson 2013, p. 113).

Yes, we need to linger and take time to contemplate the curriculum question. Only in this way will we share what is common and distinctive in our experience of the current pandemic by changing our time and our learning to foreclose on our future. Curriculum conceived as a complicated conversation restarts historical not screen time; it enacts the private and public as distinguishable, not fused in a computer screen. That is the “new normal”.

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Correspondence to José Augusto Pacheco.

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My thanks to William F. Pinar. Friendship is another moving image of eternity. I am grateful to the anonymous reviewer. This work is financed by national funds through the FCT - Foundation for Science and Technology, under the project PTDC / CED-EDG / 30410/2017, Centre for Research in Education, Institute of Education, University of Minho.

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Pacheco, J.A. The “new normal” in education. Prospects 51, 3–14 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-020-09521-x

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Keywords

  • Pandemic
  • Covid-19
  • Humanism
  • Humanistic tradition
  • Education
  • Curriculum
  • Technology