As an educator it is important to promote equality in your classroom. As a teacher you have control of your room and within that room you can create the environment. This environment needs to be fostering of learning and listening. I teach social studies, in a social studies classroom it is crucial to have a class environment that promotes free speech and discussion. This can also help in the realm of instructing on injustice and prejudice in our country. It is my responsibility to foster the ability of students to debate and discuss civilly. All too often people discuss and debate a topic and if there are contrasting views it gets heated and no listening or sharing of knowledge is taking place. If students practice the skill of sharing a different opinion in a civil manner, then the discussion on injustice in our country can really take shape. My goal and responsibility as a teacher is to provide the skills so after students graduate they can research, discuss, and debate the role of injustice in our society in a civil and educated manner. Storms (2013) echoes this idea in her article Preparing Teachers for Social Justice Advocacy Am I Walking My Talk? by stating, “The primary goal of SJE (Social Justice Education) is to prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to confront social inequality in society and promote equity within their sphere of influence (Adams, 2010)” (Storms, 2013, p.33). In order to reach this goal and to allow students to gain these skills for change it is imperative that the curriculum follows this idea. Mary Poplin and John Rivera (2005) state in their article Merging Social Justice and Accountability: Educating Qualified and Effective Teachers, “The vision embraces a commitment to both social justice and accountability, requiring us to develop a more balanced program, one that educates teachers to be (a) aware of the critical racial–economic issues that influence schooling and multiple strategies for addressing these issues, (b) highly skilled in the content of the curriculum standards they are called to teach, (c) educated in multiple pedagogical theories and strategies that can be applied to the various content areas…” (Poplin & Rivera, 2005, p. 31). It is crucial that we create a curriculum around our values because if we don’t our values tend to get lost in the mess of test scores and other state assessments. The education of our students must encompass an aspect of diversity to ensure that students understand the issues felt by multiple groups of people. My responsibility as an educator is to show a different prospective and bring to life not just one point of view. Allison Struthers states in her article Human rights: a topic too controversial for mainstream education?, “HRE (Human Rights Education) has historically been viewed largely as an enabling right, for logically one can only self-recognize and act upon a violation of their rights if he/she has sufficient pre-existing knowledge and understanding of those rights” (Struthers, 2016, p. 134). If students are aware of another point of view they can have a voice for others that are being oppressed and not given the human rights they deserve. This voice and compassion for others only exists if that other point of view and knowledge is acquired.
Mary, P., & John, R. (2005). Merging Social Justice and Accountability: Educating Qualified and Effective Teachers. Theory Into Practice, (1), 27.
Storms, S. B. (2013). Preparing teachers for social justice advocacy: am I walking my talk?. Multicultural Education, (2), 33.
Struthers, A. (2016). Human rights: A topic too controversial for mainstream education?. Human Rights Law Review, 16(1), 131-162. doi:10.1093/hrlr/ngv040