Fast and Slow Thinking to Address Persistent and Complex Problems in Teaching and Learning.

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Date: Sept-Oct 2021
From: Journal of Teacher Education(Vol. 72, Issue 4)
Publisher: Corwin Press, Inc.
Document Type: Editorial
Length: 3,102 words
Lexile Measure: 1620L

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One of the things that has become clear to many scholars, including the authors of this editorial, is that there are many issues raised during the pandemic that did not have their origins in the pandemic itself, but which have persisted for many decades, have complex origins, and which exist within systems governed by diverse values and populated by diverse stakeholders (see, for example, Richmond, Cho, et al., 2020). This is especially true for issues that directly affect the ability of young people to receive the kind of high-quality education they deserve. Because the pandemic has touched the lives of so many individuals and groups, including those who have more economic, social, and political privilege, some issues are positioned by those with privilege as needing to be addressed, and quickly. No better example of such an issue is that of "learning loss," which has inundated public media and has captured the attention of education professionals and nonprofessionals alike. One of the problems with the conception of learning reflected in this language is that it ignores what students learned from their personal and academic experiences during the pandemic. While some students made less academic progress than they might have otherwise, all students experienced a sudden break from normative schooling and forced social isolation. Given the interconnectedness between socioemotional and academic learning, merely providing instruction on academic content that students missed is unlikely to meet their needs (Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, 2019). The best path forward will need to take into account the interconnectedness of social, emotional, and academic development (Darling-Hammond et al., 2020).

To better understand numerous intertwining factors at play, we can draw from complexity theory with its focus on relationships and the intricacies of interconnectedness (Mevawalla, 2013). As Martin and Dismuke (2018) have reminded us, classroom teaching is a layered, intertwining system of interactions and reactions that involve students and teachers in what Weade (1994) termed "co-participatory activity." The teaching-learning systems are always co-adapting, but never more so than during the pandemic. During this time, it has been crucial that educators, students, and families worked together to determine what was working and what was not working in dynamic ways but under constrained circumstances.

At the same time that the pandemic has highlighted longstanding inequities, it has also highlighted our increasing ability to pivot to address but also prioritize challenges. Many teachers drew on their knowledge of pedagogy and their relationships with students, families, and communities to rise to the challenge, even as they battled with the pandemic and its effects themselves. Many adjusted instruction to online platforms and worked tirelessly to ensure students were engaged in high-quality, cognitively demanding activities on those platforms and took time to check in with students about how they were doing, to talk about students' questions, concerns, and feelings. Numerous teachers and caregivers recognized that there was also an immense need for relationship building and personal connection with students, and they found ways to do this in the...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A673747523