Integrating Social Justice in Today’s Classroom

Throughout history we can see how those around the world have not been treated fairly and how society has lacked social justice. As teachers we have the privilege of teaching our nation’s and world’s history. When teaching, we come across times in history that lacked social justice. We can look back on those times and see the lack of equity and justice. It is our jobs as teachers to point these events out to our students, no matter how hard it is to talk about, so that we can learn from our past mistakes. History repeats itself. Social Justice will never be perfect, but we must empower our students to take on these faults in our society, to help make the world a better place for all. Not only can we use history to help teach our students about social justice, but we can also use literature and poetry. The use of literature and poetry can help students understand the author’s point of view, as they read the first hand accounts of social injustice. When students read about the author’s experience, they are able to put themselves in the author’s shoes, which will help them see how important social justice is for all. Teachers have a great privilege of helping to shape the future generations. We must use history and literature to express the importance of social justice to our students, so that history will not be repeated.

13 thoughts on “Integrating Social Justice in Today’s Classroom”

  1. Great post! I definitely agree that as educators we must ensure that our young learners understand the perspectives of how different roles play in this issue of social injustice. Our voice and actions matter. Instilling this notion to our students early on, can provide opportunities for our students to be involved in any way shape or form.

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this post! I wonder if posing the question can social justice ever be achieved would help to spark students interest. This could be the overhead essential question of an entire school year and through the different literature highlighting different social justice areas such as race, gender, etc. you can continue to come back to how can we achieve social justice? Great job!

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  3. I agree with you that there will always be some sort of social justice issue to discuss with our students. We can always look at what happened in history and discuss those, but it is important to bring to light the issues that are going on now, because they can affect our students. In teaching event that are currently happening in the world, I would suggest looking at ADL. This website provides us with topics and even lessons that discuss current events. There are lessons on gender pay gaps, the Nike campaign and the families being separated at the border. These are all issues that our students are aware about and with some guidance, they can discuss. Here is a link to the website: https://www.adl.org/education-and-resources/resources-for-educators-parents-families/lesson-plans

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    1. I agree with you sheljm26! What’s happening now, is going to be most benificial; because it is happening in their world now. I appreciate the web-site, it will come in handy in the future when I become an educator. I will defineatly put it to use. There is always going to be some controversial topic we can teach, related to their lives; and maybe they can even go farther and take action!

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  4. Allison, This is a very powerful perspective. Teaching social injustices by using literature and poetry is a great way for students to build the connections they need to begin understanding the complexities of historical events. If students are required to write a response or reflection about the literature or poetry you provide to them, I would recommend looking into using Peergrade. Peergrade is a platform where students can evaluate each other’s work anonymously. This can allow students to provide feedback to one another using the rubric designed by you, the teacher. After the reviews are complete, students can view the feedback given to them and they can rate the comments (helpful or not) and flag problematic responses. Peergrade also allows the teacher to track who has provided feedback, which makes grading student participation much easier. You could also to use this tool as a way for students to receive feedback before they complete their final draft of their work. I have attached a video that explains in more detail how the ed tech tool works!

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  5. I really can appreciate what you said about being responsible for teaching our nation’s history to this set of students. When you think about it, it is such a great responsibility! One line of yours rally stuck out to me and got me thinking about a specific piece of technology that you could use. The line was “When students read about the author’s experience, they are able to put themselves in the author’s shoes, which will help them see how important social justice is for all.” That line got me thinking about a piece of technology that we could use to help students put themselves in another person’s shoes even more. And all I could think of was virtual reality! I am sure that there are educational virtual reality programs out there that students would really enjoy and would really change their perceptions on things. How cool would it be to be reading Gatsby and then be thrown into the 20’s in the VR device? I think that would be awesome! Of course, there are examples that would elicit much more empathy, too!

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  6. I absolutely love what you said about history repeating itself! History, in my opinion, is the best way to teach about social justice. Compare and contrast what social justice was like in different time periods and parts of the world. I also liked when you said the students should feel empowered to ensure that history does not repeat itself, since that is not the direction we want to head for our future. You said that it is our privilege, as teachers, to be able to teach our students about social justice. I cannot agree with that more! Why not teach our students about something that affects their everyday lives and applying it to other subject skills!?

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  7. I love that you mentioned the lack of social justice historically, because there’s the ever present conversation of how to even teach the subject, or tell the story of how our nation has systemically disabled many of its own citizens. It’s important to be honest with our students so they know how to recognize injustice in their world now and how to prevent it in the future and it is EVERYONE’S responsibility. The only way to eradicate the issue and secure a better life for everyone is to acknowledge it and be in agreeance that it is a problem so we can progress from it with the changes that they, ultimately, will be making.

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  8. One of my favorite quotes to tell to students is from Mark Twain: “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” I teach social studies so I am constantly talking about the social injustices of the past. My hope is that we learn from these and understand why they happened and the consequences. It is also important to discuss what was learned from these events and how we can prevent similar ones from happening again. Relating social justice to their own lives makes the lesson even stronger and will be one that sticks with students much longer.

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    1. I totally agree, when it comes to teaching students its really makes an impact on them when you can use their life experiences and cultures to help them connect to the topic. I think this a way to leave an impact on the kinds instead of always just teaching things students cant connect to or see why it matters.

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  9. I agree , our young learners should have as much knowledge as possible about the history , lack of opportunities and social justice. The students can pass this knowledge to there friends and other nomads

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  10. Allison, great points brought to light! I really like how you talked about how not only current events should have the spotlight but older events are just as important to bring into the classroom that there are so many great opportunities that can be learned from past events that help make current events easier to understand. Also bringing in life experiences is also a great way to incorporate social justice and classroom diversity, into your classroom.

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  11. I definitely agree with what you’re saying! Teachers are one of the most influential people, from my view, because other than family, teachers are the next people that students spend the most time with. There will always be controversial topics that come up in the future and hopefully we’ll be able to teach them some real life lessons.

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