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.

References:

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

5 thoughts on “”

  1. Agreed! The usage and implementation of technology is very beneficial for all students regardless of age. I do think that elementary aged students could benefit from teachings on social justice. Despite the content itself being too abstract for younger children to grapple, from a very young age I recall seeing differences around me. Technology would then serve as a good resource to help break down some of those abstracts, rather relying on discussion based teachings. Younger children appear to be more visual than older children, which allows them to understand our world better through imagery, video and sound.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! I also think that elementary children should be taught social justice. I think it’s all in the delivery. The assistance of technology would be a great aid as well.

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  2. I love how you addressed the fact teaching social justice in an elementary classroom can be controversial. As adults, we sometimes wonder if it is a good idea to talk about essentially “adult” issues in social justice. I agree with you response 100% that we need to “eliminate the barriers” before biases begin to affect their lives. I also liked when you addressed the media and how if is very biased. It’s important to teach our students what messages certain kinds of media are sending and how to overcome those biases that are being forced upon them.

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    1. I hate when adults think of things as “adult” issues and assume children cannot understand or are unaware of what is happening. They know far more than what we think, they may not have a name for it or completely grasp whatever the concept is but they certainly know there is an “issue”. It is also very important to educate children on the fact that literally anyone can put something on the internet, so they need to check and double check their information as well as understand that they need to “see” multiple view points in order to get a fuller picture.

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  3. Honestly, my favorite part is the opening sentence and how it can be a challenge or even awkward to teach social justice in the classroom, I agree with this in so many ways because it’s a completely different mindset of children and teenagers. I believe it’s based on the delivery of the material and how simple you can make it so that elementary age students can understand. Great job!

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