Standing up against exclusion, prejudice, and injustice

As a society, we have a huge responsibility to stand up against exclusion, prejudice, and injustice. Although, as teachers, that responsibility grows as we are on the front lines of ensuring that the next generation is also able to stand up against these injustices. Allison Struthers (2016) states that teaching about human rights in our classrooms is “necessary for shaping the attitudes that will contribute to the building of a universal culture of human rights” (p. 132). It is easy for children to accept the things they hear around them about human rights, whether they be positive or negative, and turn them into their own thoughts and feelings on the topic. With this in mind, we need to ensure that we are also providing our students with accurate information about how exclusion, prejudice, and social injustices are all things that they need to be aware of everyday and that they can be the solution to these problems by using their voices and taking a stand against any type of oppression.

While it is important that we educate our students about how they can either continue to contribute to these problems our society has created or they can be the part of the solution, we also need to ensure that we are prepared to have these discussions and that we ourselves are educated enough on the topics of exclusion, prejudice, and injustice. Poplin and Rivera (2005) state that teachers must “understand, choose, and apply multiple pedagogical strategies in the teaching–learning process. This includes all pedagogies and learning theories from behaviorism to critical theory” (p. 31). It is important that teachers are aware of the different methods of teaching and how different methods may be necessary when discussing these topics with our students.

Once we know that the information we are teaching is accurate and represents the struggles of those who face exclusion, prejudice, and injustice each day then we are ready to have these talks with our students. The point of teaching about social justice issues is to, “increase students’ sociocultural consciousness and help them understand why change is necessary” (Storms, S. B., 2013, p. 34). In order for the society we live in today to make any type of changes, we need to ensure that our students understand the value of their voices and that they can make a change even at a young age.

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

6 thoughts on “Standing up against exclusion, prejudice, and injustice”

  1. I love how your post mentions that in order to truly educate students on topics of exclusion, prejudice, and injustice we must first educate ourselves. After all, how do we expect students to understand these issues if we do not understand them ourselves? And how do we expect to have meaningful conversations on these issues with our students if we are uneducated about them? As educators we need to be able to have meaningful discussions about different issues with our students. Students need to be made aware of different issues related to exclusion, prejudice, and injustice and know that one day they will be able to make a difference and promote equality for different groups of people.

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  2. Great Post! Teaching the importance of human rights is vital for educators. Like you stated students hear things about human rights from all different areas and times in their life but it is important that we as teachers instill the importance that those rights have to us and others in the world. Students need to be aware of what human rights entail, so that they are knowledgeable enough to be aware when those rights or being taken away. If students were unaware of the significance of their human rights, or what they are, they will be unaware if their or others rights are being infringed upon. I agree that it is also important for us as teachers to have the correct information to provide our students. Mary Poplin and John Rivera discuss the importance of creating a balanced curriculum that will give the teachers the training and information necessary to promote social justice and human rights to the best of their ability. They state, “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…” (Poplin & Rivera, p. 31).

    Reference
    Mary, P., & John, R. (2005). Merging Social Justice and Accountability: Educating Qualified and Effective Teachers. Theory Into Practice, (1), 27.

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  3. Great post! I like how you touched on the importance of educators first educating themselves about the concepts and issues surrounding human rights, before discussing these topics with students. I agree that it is critical for educators to acquire accurate information on the concepts and understand various strategies for integrating these topics into classroom instruction. I feel it is also important for teachers to take time to reflect upon our own biases and opinions, before integrating human rights education into classroom instruction. I think these is a critical step to take in preparing ourselves to teach about injustices, exclusion and prejudice. In doing so, we can ensure we are teaching our students factual information from various perspectives, rather than sharing our opinions and personal values.

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    1. I agree, it is important to make sure we as teachers are educated. Some social issues by their nature appear to be, in part, subjectively interpreted. Before we think about educating our students, we need “accurate information about how exclusion, prejudice, and social injustices are all things that they need to be aware of everyday and that they can be the solution to these problems” as was stated in this post. We need to filter out misinformation, biases, and other forms of propaganda that is sold off as truth otherwise our ‘teaching’ can have the potential to be highly destructive. Only then can our teaching have the potential to get students to become problem solvers on social justice issues.

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  4. I really enjoyed reading your post! It really stuck out to me when you said “While it is important that we educate our students about how they can either continue to contribute to these problems our society has created or they can be the part of the solution, we also need to ensure that we are prepared to have these discussions and that we ourselves are educated enough on the topics of exclusion, prejudice, and injustice.” As educators, if we are not educated about a topic ourselves, we cannot expect our students to understand. This includes all areas of our teaching. It is our responsibility to have a full understanding of everything we are teaching our students if we expect them to retain any information.

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  5. I was very intrigued about the point you made that children are very receptive to what is said around them and easy for them to accept those beliefs and turn them into their own beliefs. It is true and certainly our responsibility to not necessarily alter their view points because you can’t control what one may believe, however ensuring that they understand different perspective is crucial in this issue here.

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