Covid-19 – How does it feel?

7 December 2021, 11.30am – 4pm AEDT/1.30pm – 6pm NZDT

Conference Presentations 2021


Conference Programme in PDF format

Isolated Dialogue: Considerations of lockdown on dialogic spaces

Anneleis Humphries, University of Melbourne

This presentation will examine the role of dialogue and social relations in learning and well-being, using Paulo Freire's notion of conscientisation to understand and consider some of the ways in which this has been impacted with the ongoing restrictions, particularly for young people and their education. Pre-COVID research identified the importance of dialogue for conscientisation. Drawing on discussions from groups of young adolescents, the research identified how creating an environment of trust and acceptance opens opportunities for new and broadened understandings of the world. In particular, many shared about newfound understandings of their peers interest in discussion around issues of social justice and desire to contribute to social transformation. While these discussions are atypical for these young people, it does raise questions about the role of social dialogue in educational endeavours. Specific to COVID, it raises questions about the changing role of social dialogue in young people's learning, amidst global lockdowns and home schooling. While teachers have had a steep learning curve to ensure students educational outcomes remain, to the greatest extent possible, unaffected, other aspects of the school and learning environment may not have been paid the same level of attention. Learning can often be teacher-centred, with online learning likely heightening this effect. Additionally, spaces for socialising, such as recess and lunch breaks, have all but disappeared as a space for engaging young people socially.

Buen vivir and the art of living. Comparing Western and Latin American perspectives on living a good life

Christoph Teschers, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, & Dr Maria Nieto

Buen Vivir (good living) is a cultural concept in the Indigenous peoples of Central and South America, which has awakened a recent interest in both the academic research and the political debate. Esteva (2009) argues that the interest in the Indigenous concept of Buen Vivir can be traced to the eighties when different sectors of the population began to question the economic and political paradigm of “development” in the Americas since 1948 by the former USA President Truman. It is against this conceptualisation and the consequences it has had in terms of the prevailing economic and political models in Latin America that Buen Vivir seems to gain prominence as an “alternative” to understand and arrange social and economic life.

In this presentation, we will compare and link the Latin American notion of buen vivir (good living) with Schmid’s (2000) Western concept of the art of living, which also can present a counter narrative to current neoliberal individualistic ideologies towards the development of people’s good and beautiful life in a social and community context. As such, buen vivir also supports the challenge the pandemic posed for individualistic notions in a globalised community that is interconnected and interdependent. We will supplement the philosophical comparison of these concepts with preliminary empirical findings from (mostly) indigenous voices of Andean people from Colombia and discuss the relevance of these concepts and the preliminary findings for educational theory, curriculum and pedagogy.

Conference 2021 Keynotes

Abaddon Has No Covering - A Girardian Reading of Undifferentiation, Lockdown Education and the Anti-Festival

David Lundie, University of Glasgow

This essay reflects on the longer-term challenges posed for societal, political and educational sectors following the imposition of a shutdown of face-to-face schooling and universities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using Rene Girard's mimetic analysis of festivals as concealing originary violence, and drawing on multimedia sources, it poses the question of what role remains for education under undifferentiated conditions, amnd whether an authentic differentiation can be recovered without the logic of enclosure.

Policing knowledge in and of the pandemic

Georgina Stewart, Te Ara Poutama, Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

Among the unprecedented challenges of the current pandemic are issues of scientific knowledge, and the growth of public mistrust of experts and the motives of government. The democratic rights and freedoms of individual citizens have been perversely distorted into a refusal to comply with systems and rules designed to protect their lives. In Aotearoa New Zealand as in other countries, the Indigenous population is becoming infected at disproportionately high rates, which look set to increase. This commentary discusses how social media occupy a liminal niche between knowledge and ignorance in relation to the current explosion of national anti-vaccine sentiment. Social media effectively disseminate misinformation that influences attitudes and opinions of targeted groups, for example, social media are being blamed for growing vaccine hesitancy among young Māori. Anti-science ideas and public skepticism are examined through the lens of agnotology, or managed ignorance, and a comparison is drawn between the current anti-vaccine campaign and the recent Listener letter that falsely claimed that science was in danger from Māori knowledge.

Ecopedagogical Literacy of a Pandemic: Teaching to Critically Read the Politics of COVID-19 with Environmental Issues

Greg William Misiaszek, Beijing Normal University, China / Paulo Freire Institute, UCLA, USA

Politics of public pedagogies that systemically obscured, ignored, and/or flat-out lied about COVID-19 realities that led to, and worsened, the global pandemic coincides with education that falsely justifies environmental violence, unsustainability, and dominance of Nature. I discuss how ecopedagogy, grounded in the popular education models of Paulo Freire, are essential to critically compare and contrast COVID-19 aspects with environmental issues to construct effective environmental pedagogies for critical literacy (i.e., ecopedagogical literacy) to disrupt and “unlearn” ideologies that sustain and intensify unsustainable acts of environmental violence. The following three disruptions are argued as essential for socio-environmental justice and planetary sustainability: disrupting Northern, dominate epistemologies that instills world-Earth distancing (i.e., “us” humans (anthroposphere) from the rest of Nature); disrupting “development” defined within neoliberal and neocolonial framings, including being solely grounded upon epistemologies of the North, and disrupting academic scholarship and structures that lead to the first two aspects needing disruptions as mentioned.

In Pursuit of the Unvaccinated: Whatever Happened to Informed Consent?

Janis Ozolins, University of Notre Dame Australia/ Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity

Following the medical scandals prosecuted in the Nuremburg trials and the violations of human rights uncovered in the Tuskagee medical experiments, the Helsinki Declaration (1964) and the Belmont Report (1978) sought to eliminate the exploitation of patients by medical practitioners in the conduct of medical research. Over the past forty years or so, national governments have refined the ethical principles which govern medical research with human participants. One of the key principles is informed consent. This principle not only governs informed consent in medical research with human participants, but also informed consent in medical treatment. In this paper, I will briefly outline what is meant by informed consent and argue that in mandating vaccination against Covid-19, governments are violating human dignity and undermining democratic freedom. There are good reasons why individuals should be vaccinated against Covid-19, but these do not licence a government to override individual autonomy by coercing individuals to be vaccinated through prohibiting the unvaccinated from working or engaging in social activity. It will further be argued that informed consent to medical treatment is no different to informed consent to medical research. That is, the same principles govern both. It also points to the importance of education in understanding the principles of democracy and the limits of government interference in individual lives.

The Rupture

Joanna Pascoe, University of Canterbury

The potestas of the proliferating force that is the Covid-19 viral pandemic, is a powerful presence. The easily-spread Delta strain of the virus has found its way to Aotearoa, New Zealand, where I write into a lockdown, a response to curtail viral spread. Despite the anxiety, vulnerability and fatigue that the pandemic engenders, can we hold hope for transformation? Author, Arundhati Roy states that, “[N]othing could be worse than a return to normality” (2020). Acknowledging the increasing complexity, uncertainty, inequalities, risks and possibilities that Covid-19 has revealed, an International Commission on the Futures of Education notes that, “[I]t is evident that we cannot return to the world as it was before” (2020, p. 3). Can Covid-19 provide an opportunity to realise our potentia, a pandemic portal, through which we can think differently, a rupture where we can go beyond the potestas of what author Arundhati Roy describes as, “the doomsday machine we have built” that is the pandemic, and the anthropocentric pollution of “dead rivers and smoky skies” to shake off prejudice, sexism, racism, and fascism? Can we acknowledge the rupture and allow a line of flight (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987) within education that breaks from the norm, destabilizing the status quo of human exceptionalism, which privileges some humans over others, and neglects the non-human? Let us explore if together we can re-imagine our world, via pedagogy, via philosophy, via stories to develop “affirmative education for the world to come” (Sidebottom, 2021) through a critical posthuman (Braidotti, 2013, 2019) focus on connections between humans and non-human-others in our more-than-human world.

Toward the Growth of Personal Paideia: New Potential in the Post-COVID Era

Jonathan Doner

Doner (EPAT, 2018) argued for the possibility of individualized educational systems as a means for the development of personal excellence within individually relevant content domains. Consequences of the COVID pandemic have given new meaning and urgency to the development of this perspective. In the classic model of the growth of educational excellence (Paideia), progress is imaged as a ladder. The structure, content, and purpose of each individual rung are the predetermined courses and curricula of modern education. Students fill these spaces and thereby climb the ladder toward a predetermined form of Paideia. The COVID pandemic, with its closures, home quarantining, and online classes proved educationally remarkable in both an encouraging and self-referential manner. On the positive side, educational systems world-wide were able to use technology to maintain the educational process within the home to a degree that would have been unimaginable just ten years before. Self-referentially, the experience made educators, students, and public alike aware of how far we still must go. This cognizance clarifies and strengthens the value of individualized instruction. The present paper outlines the philosophical basis and functional core of future systems of individualized instruction. These systems will be based in the operation of artificially intelligent tutor advocates capable of using the student’s interests, desires, history, and experience in the design, presentation, and evaluation of individualized educational experiences. Such systems will be extraordinary in their complete focus on the growth and development of person-centered paths of Paideia.

Access by Patti Smith

Lauren Ila Misiaszek, Beijing Normal University

Singer, songwriter, playwright, and poet Patti Smith encounters the author.

Ecopedagogy Reconsidered in the Pandemic

Ruyu Hung, National Chiayi University

Ecopedagogy indicates a pedagogy grounded on the ecological worldview, which means the ecological approach to the understanding of the life and the world. (Hung, 2021, p.2). Ecopedagogy aims to bring education and life into the natural world of interdependence, interaction, and interrelations to embrace ecophilia, ecosophy, and ecojustice (Hung, 2017, 2021). I have suggested that place-and-nature-oriented teaching and learning is an appropriate approach to the respectful and caring attitude of nature (Hung, 2017). However, the coronavirus pandemic almost changes every aspect of education at once, including the way of conducting place-and-nature-oriented teaching and learning and the way of experiencing and observing nature. Without a doubt, ecopedagogy now is facing many challenges. For example. the pandemic unexpectedly gives wild animals more space in cities and more opportunities to enjoy life with rare humans around. It is crucial to reconsider the human-nature relationship and ecopedagogy in the pandemic right away. What has been changed in the way humans experience nature as nature-place? How is the nature-place reconceived because of the pandemic? What do we reconsider the human relationship with nature, non-human beings, and the Earth in a healthy, sound and sustainable way?

Nearly two decades with EPAT: a changing role with a changing journal in a changing world

Susanne Brighouse, EPAT editorial ofice

This presentation is the history of my role with the Educational Philosophy and Theory (EPAT) journal over the last seventeen plus years. As the history of this role is outlined the story of the growth of EPAT is described as it evolved from three issues per year to the fourteen issues published per year currently. This presentation is my final task in this role as I retired at the end of November this year.

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