My responsibility as an educator to stand up against exclusion, prejudice, and injustice

As an educator, I think it is extremely important to stand up against exclusion, prejudice, and injustice myself, that way I can teach the students in my classroom how to do the same. “Teachers must be educated to understand their responsibilities regarding the content of their instruction and the results they are to achieve for all the students they teach” (Poplin & Rivera, 2005, p. 31). I think a huge part of doing this is talking about the different issues that are occurring around the world with my students on a daily/weekly basis. Having discussions with them will allow my students to understand that these are things we should talk about, so that we can hopefully work towards a solution. I think a great way to go about doing this is to pull different examples from global and local settings to talk with them about. Once we’ve talked about the situation, the students can then discuss what was wrong and how they would go about fixing it. “Social justice educators use culturally relevant content that examines multiple forms of oppression to increase students’ sociocultural awareness” (Storms, 2013, p. 33).

As a teacher, I will have students from all different types of backgrounds walk into my classroom. It is my job to know what rights they have, and to teach them those rights, so that they are protected and can fight for themselves if need be. “Ensuring young learners are aware of the rights to which they are entitled is also important for enabling them to recognize where those rights are not being met” (Struthers, 2016, p. 136). Some of these students’ parents might not talk about social justice with them, or they themselves may not be educated either, so creating a space where I know the students are gaining information on the topic is extremely important. Teaching my students about social justice is so important because it is something they are going to have to deal with every day, whether they are involved directly with an issue, or are a bystander. They are going to need to understand their rights, the rights of others, and how to properly defend those rights. From the moment they step foot in school these things should be taught to them so they grow up prepared to take on any possible challenges they may face.

 

Poplin, M., & Rivera, J. (2005). Merging Social Justice and Accountability: Educating Qualified and Effective Teachers. Theory Into Practice, 44(1), 27-37 doi:10.1207/s15430421tip4401_5

Storms, S. B. (2013). Preparing Teachers for Social Justice Advocacy. Multicultural Education, 20(2), 33-39.

Struthers, A. C. (2016). Human Rights: A Topic Too Controversial for Mainstream Education?. Human Rights Law Review, 16(1), 131-162. doi:10.1093/hrlr/ngv040

4 thoughts on “My responsibility as an educator to stand up against exclusion, prejudice, and injustice”

  1. I think one of the best ways to teach students about human rights is through current events. I think this can be done on both the local and global level. One way I bring in current events to my classroom is by having the students watch CNN 10. This is a quick news story that is designed for students, that shares with them what is happening around the world. This is a great way to get students engaged in current events, so they want to learn and discuss them. Another way I teach current events, is by having students read articles that I find on student news daily. Here, there are so many great current events articles, and many have to do with human rights. These are two things I do in my classroom to educate students about human rights and use current events.

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  2. I completely agree with using current events to teach students about these real life issues. It allows them to not only become educated on the subject, but also allows them to connect it to real life outside of the content being presented in the classroom. We as educators must become educated before educating our students. Once we become self aware, and model the behaviors we are teaching, then we are ready to bring this content into our classrooms. The ways in which we present this material to students is extremely important because these are topics they will continue to face throughout their entire lives!

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  3. It is so important that we teach our students their rights and how to stand up for themselves. Advocating for oneself is a powerful experience and I think once students learn how to do it they are much less likely to let things hold them back. I want my students not only to know their rights but also to be vocal about what they need and what rights they might be missing out on. Like you said this is something students should be introduced to at a young age and continue you to practice for the rest of their lives. Current events are a great way to show students the issues people are facing today as well as a way to show them how people are handling the situation and the way that they are working to overcome it and raise awareness. This opens students up to thinking about ways they can get involved to advocate for others and for themselves.

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  4. You are very right in the fact that not many students will walk into the classroom already educated on social justice and the issues that impede it. In many cases, as you said, parents are uneducated and so the student has very little exposure to learning about social justice. By creating an environment in the classroom where students can talk about and analyze global and local social topics, they will gain a deeper understanding of positive examples of social justice as well as how to identify an injustice. In addition, it is imperative for all students, and people for that matter, to know their rights. Students should be educated on what they are legally entitled to, as well as what is considered wrongful treatment of them or others. This knowledge alone can go a long way in helping students to combat social injustice and promote a positive learning environment and ultimately and more socially equal society.

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