What responsibility do you have to integrate social justice into teaching content?

My responsibility, as a future teacher, is to allow all my students to understand their environments and interactions both in the classroom and out in society. As far as social justice, students must first be equipped with the knowledge needed in order to generate their own ideas and opinions of the events happening out in the world. I think in my classroom, this would look a lot like incorporating history and current events into my classroom discussions, lessons, and activities. This way, students will feel comfortable and safe sharing their individual ideas about social issues, which could possibly be the direct opposite of their peer sitting one seat over. As educators, it is incredibly important that we allow our students to create their own standpoints on societal issues and historical events. The best classrooms I have encountered are the ones where I am introduced to ideas that challenge my own beliefs and ideas. This is because I know that in the end I will come out with not only a stronger sense of myself, but of the people around me, what they stand for, and how we can work together peacefully. Social justice is the foundation for this type of end result, considering it is the basis needed for the world. Without social justice in our classrooms, the generations to come would not be able to as easily adjust to the ideas, beliefs, and opinions coming their way from around their environment, as they would if they had grown up being able to critically think from different perspectives and understand their own perspective on these things.

8 thoughts on “What responsibility do you have to integrate social justice into teaching content?”

  1. You bring up a great point of challenging ourselves and our beliefs. Many of our beliefs are based on our experiences that we have had in our life. If we are exposed to different situations that question what we already know, this can help to broaden our mindset and beliefs. Teachers have the opportunity to provide opportunities to their students to do just this. One show What Would You Do which aired on ABC has some videos that highlight different abilities that people have through hidden cameras. For example, one video shows a woman making a payment and getting change from the cashier. The woman is blind and the cashier does not give her the correct change. The other people in line are then put in a situation to either stand up for the woman who did not receive the correct change or to let that situation continue and not stand up for social justice. I have attached a link to the YouTube channel. Not all videos are right for social justice but there are some really good examples of how abilities of being able to see, hear, or the gender that you express yourself as impact our lives every day.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwdo8-3UrfZ9scHPl0m4Ysg/videos

    -Natalie

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  2. I think that you are right to bring up the ideas that are not always easy to discuss. Using current events is a great way. One thing to keep in mind is that not all students are going to have the same opinions on varying topics. You are going to want to remind them that it is okay for us to have different opinions on topics, but we need to discuss them in a polite manner. One website that discusses current events is ADL. They make lesson plans out of current events. While looking at it, I notices there is even one about the Nike issue with Colin Kaepernick, which i’m sure many students have seen.
    Here is the link: https://www.adl.org/education-and-resources/resources-for-educators-parents-families/lesson-plans

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    1. I agree that students need to be encouraged to generate their own ideas about social justice and the events occurring in our society. It is important that we teach students how to respectfully disagree. At the beginning of the school year, students should discuss what respect means to them. Tolerance.org has created a lesson plan in which students define respect and write their own rules for respect. This could be a great start to student discussion of social justice issues so that students are aware of the importance of respecting the opinions of their classmates.

      https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/agree-to-respectfully-disagree

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  3. As teachers we do indeed need to prepare students to understand their environment on a deeper level. This means that they need to be able to identify social injustice, even if it is not blatantly obvious. By talking about current events and having individual students speak about their own perspectives and experiences, social justice will develop naturally in the classroom. I really like what you mentioned about challenging students perspectives on particular topics. Many students grow up in such a way that limits the way they see certain issues, such as immigration or abortion. Without condemning one choice or another, students should feel free to discuss opinions and ideas while also getting feedback from students and teachers. Simply by treating each other with respect in the classroom, students will develop good social justice habits to exhibit in society and in turn, improve social justice in their environment.
    -Anthony
    https://www.weareteachers.com/current-events-classroom/

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  4. I truly enjoyed reading your post. I agree, as educators, we must provide students with opportunities to understand the world around them. Like you said, when we provide students with new experiences and perspectives, they can think more critically about the world around them. One site I found extremely interesting that might be useful to you in your future lesson planning is called 3rd World Farmer. 3rd World Farmer is a “thought-provoking” simulation game. In the game, you are a farmer in a poor county with a very small budget. Based on random events (endless wars, diseases, droughts, unreliable markets, animal attacks) you can either earn money to provide for your family to play another turn or your family and farm will suffer from the lack of basic necessities.

    The game was extremely interesting to me because it skimmed the surface of some really important topics and issues around poverty. “By letting players experience this – albeit in a harmless, fictional setting – we hope to open their eyes to the problems and to motivate them to make a positive social change. Our aim is to have everybody play the game, reflect, discuss and act on it. The game is a great starting point for discussions of 3rd World issues, so we encourage teachers to use it in class” (3rdworldfarmer.org, 2006). In addition to promoting meaningful class conversations, the site provides links to organizations that fight The War on Hunger. By providing students with these organizations, students can begin to research about important issues and identify ways to get involved. 3rd World Farmer can promote students to become advocates for important issues in today’s world. I have attached the website below!

    https://3rdworldfarmer.org/

    3rdworldfarmer.org. (2006). 3rd World Farmer: A simulation to make you think.. [online] Available at: https://3rdworldfarmer.org/ [Accessed 20 Sep. 2018].

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  5. You make some really great points here. We are helping to create the future world leaders. We must do everything in our power to help them see social justice issues for what they are if we want any hope of a brighter world for not just our students, but ourselves. Even if it is just one student at a time that we reach, that is one more chance of a student growing up to help make the world great.

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  6. Growing up, I always admired my teachers and the many different things they were able to teach me. I also watched the joys and frustrations of being a teacher through my mom. One thing she said is that “No matter what struggles I’ve gone through each year as a teacher, nothing beats the joy of having a student come back and visit and them tell you what an impact you’ve had on either their personal life or their educational life.” I strive to be able to also make a big enough impact on a students life to the point where they come back and tell me how I have.

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  7. I agree that students must make their own decisions on what they believe. But they must also know why they feel this way and why they believe it. As it was said before in a previous post we need to be able to teach students how to respectfully disagree because were not all going to have the same views and beliefs so we need to know how to disagree respectfully and professionally.

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