CASE & CSA Webinar Series: COVID-19 and Educational Challenges

March 3, 2022

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Canadian Association of Sociology of Education (CASE) and Canadian Sociological Association (CSA) Sociology of Education Research Cluster invite you to attend this free webinar.

Presentation #1: Over the horizon of neoliberalism: Online Education in Ontario during COVID-19

Dr. Beyhan Farhadi, York University

This presentation reviews the state of online education in Ontario since its modest expansion in 2006 as part of a provincial e-learning strategy to its mass delivery as a secondary graduation credit requirement to its use (and abuse) during COVID-19.

Within the context of neoliberal educational reforms that have corroded the promise and practice of public education, I report on findings from a study conducted with Dr. Sue Winton at York University on policy enactment in secondary schools during COVID-19. In our study, we interviewed 31 teachers in Ontario in three 1-hour long focus groups about the variables impacting their decision-making during crisis, specifically as it relates to the interpretation and translation of policies during the pandemic and the impact of online education during 2020 school closures and 2020-2021 school re-opening. Through critical policy approach, this presentation will show the range of contextual factors that impacted decision making, including geography, school history and demographics, teachers ’values and atttitudes, physical and digital infrastructure, staffing and budgets, discourses outside the school, as well as the political context and ideology that shapes policy. To conclude, I review current proposals to make online learning a permanent feature of education in Ontario, which expand corporate influence in schooling and further monetize public education.

Presentation #2: Theorizing Academic Crip Doulas in Higher Education

Hannah Sullivan Facknitz, University of British Columbia and Danielle E. Lorenz, University of Alberta

In this presentation we build on some of our extant work on how academic ableism has transpired during the COVID-19 pandemic that have exacerbated pre-existing deep structural inequalities. Pre-pandemic we knew that academia was extractive and violent, requiring disabled students to develop their own strategies to access to their courses, programs, and institutions—labour not required of nondisabled students. We know this because we have lived it as disabled students. We contrast the exploitative nature of higher education with what we are calling academic crip doula-ing. Care work, from a crip lens, comes from an ethos that is always-already political, and thus, never neutral (Piepzna-Samarsinha, 2018). Where academia focuses on medicalized understandings of “accommodation” and “care,” crip care work aims to heal the systemic wounds of harm and rupture the harming systems. Using critical disability studies as a methodology, we employ a Cripistemology (Johnson & McRuer, 2014), rooted in our shared experiences of disability and chronic illness, to shape our understanding of mutual care work in higher education. We outline what it means to be an academic crip doula, and how our experiences of disability inform this position in a time where the language “pre-existing conditions” and “comorbidities” are used to dehumanize and devalue the lives of our chronically ill and disabled kin. We focus on the ways “crisis learning” was used to obfuscate institutional commitments to equity and inclusion, and why we feel compelled to do radical care work as both violently marginalized and intensely privileged graduate students.

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