By Jamie Fraser
What we have been and what we will become “post” COVID-19 (however that is defined) will be an ecological balance between our basic needs (the human condition), the customs that have historically been shaped around those needs, and the antecedent constraints those customs impose on future transformation. This is the lens I have been bringing to this pandemic to see where society will embrace, resist or be immutable to change. This heuristic depends on how easily an existing custom can be traced to the human condition it originated to satisfy.
In the context of K–12 education, where I have spent the past 30 years professionally, I would argue formal education stems from the human need to pass a “corpus” of knowledge from one generation to the next. It’s a survival instinct. Over time, schools evolved to be the place where knowledge lived (books and human purveyors). Children congregated there to collect it. Knowledge no longer lives in schools alone; access to it is ubiquitous. Therefore schools should be one of the institutions most ripe for transformational change, except they won’t be.
The topography of mapping human needs to societal constructs is complicated further by the imposition of constraints (e.g. geography, technology, physicality…). A constraint that makes schools extremely resistant to change is the need for parents to send their children somewhere while they focus on making a living, wherever that living might place them on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.