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

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.

 

References

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 Review16(1), 131-162. doi:10.1093/hrlr/ngv040

5 thoughts on “My responsibility as an educator to be to standing up against exclusion, prejudice, and injustice”

  1. Hi! I really appreciate your comment about civil discussion. You’re right, it’s nearly impossible to have a productive conversation if everyone is too heated and cannot pay attention to or consider what other people are saying. In a social studies classroom, it seems like you could tie that lesson quite well into the curriculum (current politics?).
    I also agree that it is essential to create a curriculum around our values, because if we don’t do that, it’s incredibly difficult to be passionate about teaching. If we aren’t passionate about teaching, our students won’t be passionate about learning, and so on.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading your post. One thing I thought about was how different it must be to teach social justice and equality to secondary students rather than primary (I teach 2nd grade). I feel like the students I have have not yet been exposed to as much in the world as secondary students have, therefore teaching them acceptance and respect is a little easier. With high schoolers/middle schoolers, they already have their opinions, and some of them cannot see outside of the little fishbowl that they live in.

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  3. I love how the first thing you talk about in your post is that teachers are the ones that control the classroom environment. It is so important that students know they are a part of an environment where they know they are safe, and their ideas are valued. As you mention, the environment needs to be fostering of learning and listening. Without this positive environment students will be more reluctant to share and may feel like they don’t belong in the classroom. I love that in your classroom you teach students how to debate in a civil manner, as you mention those who usually partake in debates usually refuse to listen and this causes no real information to be shared. If future generations can debate things in a civil manner, and actually learn to listen to each other, maybe one day people can work together to solve issues or at least find common ground.

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  4. I really enjoyed reading your post! I think equality in the classroom is one of the most important things. If everyone is treated equally by everyone there will be more learning and children will feel safe and welcomed. I also like other have said like that you teach students how ti have a civil debate. In our society there are debates often and many people don’t have the skills needed to do this. I think we should be teaching this to students and it falls under social justice. You brought up some great points in your post 🙂

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    1. Thank you! Yes I believe that, especially in this day and age, civil debate is a skill that not many have mastered. If students have years of practice debating in a civil manor, later in life they will have the skills necessary to share information with others who have different opinions.

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