Initially, teaching social justice at the elementary level may seem strange. Derma-Sparks and Edwards explain their experiences with this topic, ” Adults sometimes ask: Aren’t prejudice, discrimination, and anti-bias adult issues? Why bring children into it?” It’s important and necessary for adults to address how social justice may impact their lives. Educators must take on the role of eliminating these barriers with young children in order to help them cultivate a a sense of self and an acceptance and respect for others.
Technology gives us a great opportunity to connect with others to help foster communication, collaboration, and exploration beyond the four walls of our classrooms. We can connect students that may have never been able to otherwise connect with one another. Any educator knows, that building strong connections to our world and others is a powerful practice. Learning about other students and classrooms can be informational at the surface level, but once students have a deeper understanding of others, a sense of respect and acceptance is sure to follow.
Spiegler also suggests that teachers use familiar examples with children to explore diversity, bias, and social justice. She explains, “you can provide openings for children to see how bias takes place in media and the everyday objects that they use.” At a very young age, children start to recognize the differences between male and female and they begin asking a lot of questions about those differences to the adults around them. We can use their personal experiences with television, The Internet, or video games to explore those topics further. It can be as simple as exploring gender stereotypes within these platforms.
Technology gives educators the opportunity to connect and “tap into” student interests, surrounding/outside communities, and facilitate collaboration with diverse groups of students.
Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2015, July 8). Teaching Young Children about Race. In Teaching for Change. Retrieved from https://www.teachingforchange.org/teaching-about-race
Spiegler, J. (2016, June 16). Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice. In Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/teaching-young-children-social-justice-jinnie-spiegler