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LEARNING LOSS IS DEFICIT THINKING.
The narrative that students have “lost” a year of learning dismisses that young people have spent the past 18 months learning what no other students have had to learn in the history of public education: how to survive a global pandemic.
It also dismisses the accomplishments of many young people during this time who mobilized to help build mutual aid networks, support their families, and prioritise their own well-being over the production of capitalist education.
Students “lost” a year or more of instruction and therefore are “behind” in their academic preparedness. Students must “catch-up” or they won’t be competitive college and job applicants.
Students are trying to survive a global pandemic and, in addition to their coursework, are learning valuable lessons about coping and community building. Students don’t need to catch-up to an ableist, cis hetero patriarchal, and capitalist society, adults need to work in solidarity with young people to dismantle it.
LEARNING LOSS IS SMOKE & MIRRORS.
The global pandemic put a spotlight on the inequities of capitalist, settler colonial education. Focusing on “learning loss” instead of the root causes of educational inequity has been a campaign of smoke and mirrors to distract educators and the public from the fact that education can never be equitable until we directly address ableism, anti-blackness, white supremacy, and the class barriers erected by capitalism.
The fact is that what many students, especially young BI&POC, are taught in Western education systems is more akin to indoctrination than liberatory thinking. Young people are taught how to conform to systems of oppression, how to be “productive” workers and obedient citizens, rather than how to resist and dismantle colonial projects.
If learning loss were a honest concept, it would focus on recouping the knowledge empire has destroyed throughout colonization instead of looking for ways to force students to catch-up to unrealistic and oppressive expectations.