We Need to Know Each Other: Covid-19

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Jutta Treviranus, founder and director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University, tells us that dealing with Covid-19 requires us to know each other. We need to understand our various strengths, skills and needs in order to respond effectively. Treviranus was our guest this week on The Laura Flanders Show. You can watch or listen to the full episode here.

From public health to remote learning, Treviranus says Covid-19 is forcing us to rethink how we design response systems. Where we have the greatest vulnerability, we have the greatest chance for innovation. And that’s what it’s going to take for us to survive. Amazing learning moments are coming out of this, but that will require a lot of un-learning.

As many schools are forced to shut their doors and shift to an online learning approach, the education system is forced to change. Students are no longer exposed to a uniform set of conditions. They are at home with their parents in very different environments. Treviranus says we need to abandon many of our assumptions about learning and education. We need to get rid of the notion that education is about ranking students along the same scale and competing towards the same learning goals. Instead, schools need to get to know each other. They need to start asking, what are your interests, what are your skills, what are the resources you have? We need a shift away from creating a monoculture. Bringing students of different ages together works better than grouping them by age.

Most importantly, we need to move towards project based learning. Now more than ever, it is hard to engage students in something that doesn’t seem at all relevant. There are many problems we need to address, and Treviranus emphasizes it is important to use the inclusive design principles. We need to focus first on the people who face the greatest difficulty or can’t make things work. If we focus first on those in the center, we will leave behind students on the margins. If we address the needs of those with the most difficulty first, we will create solutions that work for everyone. Amazing learning moments are coming out of this, but we need to unlearn a lot too.


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