Histories of the past and histories of the future: Pandemics and historians of education

The COVID-19 outbreak at the beginning of the 2020s not only marked a dramatic moment in world health, but also the start of manifold and entangled global crises that seem to define a watershed moment with severe effects on education. Pandemics we know are recurrent events. Faced with COVID-19 some historians have looked to previous pandemics to understand the nature of the disease and its trajectory, and how previous generations have dealt with similar health crises. This special issue intends not to reinforce narratives of the past but rather to question them. The histories that have been written for this special issue Histories of the Past and Histories of the Future: Pandemics and Historians of Education offer insights that refer to past and future research agendas. They look at the mediation and circulation of knowledge during past pandemics, trace unheard voices and emotions of pandemics, analyse national policies and emerging discourses, and underline the entangled histories of education and pandemics. Collectively the articles brought together in this issue forcibly suggest that the most fruitful and rewarding way forward to studying past pandemics lies in thinking ecologically. By asses- sing the myriad consequences of living in ” pandemic times,” of confronting exposure, transmission, transmutation, disruption, and loss, and looking to community and collective futures we believe we cannot study pandemics and their impact on education and children's lives without widening the aperture of our research. Adopting an ecological approach will help us to not only actively engage with histories of the present and contemporary collecting, but also offer the possibility of new understandings and new insights into the dynamics and consequences of past pandemics.

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