Transitions. The process of change from one form to another. A period of adjustment, transformation, and growth. As we cautiously emerge from the global pandemic, conscious of the pains and challenges of the past two years and begin to venture out and test the waters of our new normal, Congress 2022’s theme of Transitions is fitting. As we move forward, we, as researchers, policymakers, principals, heads of departments, school administrators, teachers, and students, must be architects, engineers, and change-agents of a re-imagined education system. We are responsible to build and edify a safer, just, and equitable learning environment for all. The papers and presentations at CSSE 2022 made an extraordinary and earnest effort to do just that. Here is a quick rundown on some of the themes that emerged from this year’s conference.
Alternative ways of knowledge and understanding
Over the course of the conference, there was a consistent call for the acknowledgement of diverse voices and varied viewpoints in our education system. Both Terry Wotherspoon and Emily Milne’s presentation on Using Bourdieu’s Theories to Examine Education for Reconciliation Activities in Canada and Shamiga Arumuhathas and Fengchenzi Zhao’s roundtable on Investigating the Impact of COVID-19 on Racialized International Students’ Experiences in Higher Education in Ontario renounced the severely limited and often homogenistic representations of students and families who come from complex communities. Instead, we should take a page (or pages) from the multi-paper presentations by Marzieh Mosavarzadeh, Sholeh Mahlouji, Yasaman Moussavi and Elmira Sarreshtehdari on Walking with Water:(Re)making Places and Relations through Actions and Metaphors and Arianna Garcia-Fialdini on « Bon appétit tout le monde! » Artfully Preparing, Serving and Sharing Stories, and from Vicki Kelly and Paula Rosehart in their symposium-panel on Honouring Ways of Knowing and Being in Education: A Métissage of Praxis, to broaden our mindsets and be open to consider the different ways we can collaborate with and learn from each other.
Various sessions articulated the need to reflect on current models in education and re-envision our schools and classroom as we transition beyond the current pandemic. The inconsistencies in political and public health discourses left students, parents, teachers and school leaders frustrated and anxious and in need of physical as well as psychological support, as highlighted in presentations by Stephanie Chitpin and Olfa Karoui on The Covid-19 Pandemic Educational Decision-Making During COVID-19 in Ontario, and Jessica Whitley and Jacqueline Specht on Stress, Skills and Squeaky Wheels: Parent Advocacy for Students with Special Education Needs in the Context of COVID-19. We will need to dislodge ourselves from negative and discriminatory classroom practices, as discussed by Sachin Maharaj and Sana Zareey on The Other Side of the Tracks: How Academic Streaming Impacts Student Relationships, Christopher DeLuca and David Baidoo-Anu on Categorization of Secondary Education in Ghana: Unpacking the Experiences of Teachers and Students in Category C Schools, and Jasmine Pham on The Professional Legitimacy of Native-English Speaking Teachers, and be ready to seek out new processes and alternative approaches for innovative and equitable outcomes.
Elevating our methods and mindset
It is therefore crucial that we, as knowledge producers, to expand our research repertoire to meet the demands and challenges faced by our diverse stakeholders. We were presented with many new and innovative approaches to research and analysis. Spatializing Bourdieu’s Theories: Understanding Education Marketization and Inequalities across Canadian Cities by Ee-Seul Yoon drew on Bourdieu’s theories to help to guide the process of spatial analysis and would be helpful in examining the relationship between school choices or education marketization and social class. Collaborative Data Analysis: A Cross Case Analysis of Learning from Data Parties by Katrina Carbone, Paisley Worthington and Michelle Searle highlighted the use of a data party, where diverse stakeholders, researchers and member of community come together in a participatory sense-making event to analyse the data collected and collaboratively construct meaning through their diverse experience.
More importantly, and repeatedly emphasised by multiple presenters, is the need to engage and support our research partners. This includes cultivating a reciprocal learning relationship with our stakeholders, as explored by Vicki Kelly and Paula Rosehart in their symposium-panel on Honouring Ways of Knowing and Being in Education: A Métissage of Praxis, as well as incorporating inclusive ways in which we can build on each other to strengthen the future for all involved in education, as discussed by Emily Sprowls, Zoë Deskin, Blane Harvey and Allison Gonsalves in their roundtable discussing Co-learning for Sustainable Futures: Collaborative Learning among Future Teachers and Future Environmental Professionals Engaged in Sustainability Education.
There are no guarantees in our current unpredictable and complex realities. However, there are clear indications from CSSE 2022 that we have started the transitioning process by outlining the potential directions to build a stimulating and respectful environment for our students and education stakeholders.