Taking on the challenge

A new perspective brings us together

Creative desktop top view. Typewriter, papers, diary, coffee mug, crumpled paper.

It is with humility and excitement that I take on the role of editor of Education Forum. For me, the publication has always signalled some of the best of what the Federation has to offer. Education Forum facilitates a deep and broad analysis about education, labour, and what it means to be part of civil society.

Right now it may feel as if the world has become disturbingly unhinged, but we have to try and find the moments of light in the darkness. We are experiencing a wholesale challenge to many of our norms and structures. We are at a point where we have the opportunity to make meaningful, progressive changes. But we are also at a point where our isolation and division threaten to break us apart. I’m choosing to embrace these challenges and changes while firmly holding on to my sanity by reaching out for the little things that matter.

I’m trying take a moment here and there to remind myself that we are, as a whole world, facing this pandemic together. Our individual lived experiences are very different and they must all be recognized for their power while we also recognize our need for one another.

Our organization, like so many others, is in the process of self-reflection. The recognition of the depth of systemic and normalized racism, the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on some of our most vulnerable communities, and the advent of a new learning experience in Ontario’s publicly-funded schools are all part of what has made up the year. Add to this the fact that we conducted one of the most contentious and publicly-fought rounds of negotiations in Ontario’s education history, and we can all say that we are living in difficult and challenging times. But we are embracing the challenge.

I keep hearing the word “pivot” used in reference to our changing views on the world. The idea of having to grasp ideas that are different than we have embraced previously is exactly the goal of education. We work in a field where we ask students to pivot all the time. Our Provincial Executive has jointly authored the cover story OSSTF/FEESO—Racism, Oppression, Equity for this issue and I think it best highlights the value of the pivot. It is about facing up to what we think we know, what we thought was best, and reorienting ourselves to improve. Jennifer Seif and Nanci Henderson, in their article Exploring the white fragility narrative put the pivot to the test as they embark on a critical friendship exploring and challenging race and privilege. OSSTF/FEESO’s Policy Analyst, Chris Samuel uses the idea of the pivot in his evaluation of truth, facts, “fake news,” and public perception. Beyhan Farhadi considers the discrepancies of online learning experiences. Pieces in this edition reflect concepts of moving, pivoting, questioning, and reorienting.

But one of the greatest pivots to date for our organization was our approach to bargaining this past year. In Transparent bargaining—Using transparency and facts to counter Ford’s dishonest narrative the organization reflects on its decision to engage in transparent bargaining; the approach arguably changed the course of bargaining in education as it engaged a whole new level of public awareness of education.

I invite you to tuck into this extended issue of Education Forum with a mind open to new ideas, and I invite you to embrace the opportunities for the best pivots that will bring out the best in us all. And above all else, I wish you wellness as we face the future.

In solidarity,

Tracey Germa, Editor

About Tracey Germa
Tracey Germa is the editor of Education Forum and education-forum.ca.

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