Here is the definition of social justice as I have come to understand it: Social justice is defined as the steps in a community which bring about equity over time in such a way that more needs are met. Attaining social justice means closing the gap, or leveling the playing field. As teachers, we must figure out the best methods and practices that will promote social justice in our classrooms. Thus, we can help close the widening gaps in our society by meeting the diverse needs of our students.
I found an article online about social justice from Oswego State University of New York by Pat Russo, and it deepened my understanding of social justice in education. I thought it was important enough to summarize for you all. In this article, Russo says the first part of teaching with social justice is acknowledging the existence of injustices in our society. In our world we have to recognize that some people face oppression and some people have privileges based on a number of factors such as disability, race, class, gender, and so on. If the whole point of social justice is to close the gaps, we first have to understand that there is a gap. Second, Russo discusses the role of teachers as “change agents.” He highlights the importance of teachers learning how to “interrupt” or “challenge” injustices during their pre-service education. Finally, Russo defines teaching with social justice as “working to end the cycles of depression,” and he talks about a specific course at Oswego that prepares pre-service teachers to teach with social justice by demonstrating their understanding through projects. Our class, “Planning for the Diversity of Learners,” is a great example of how MSU prepares students to teach for equity. Through this course, I have already learned so much about teaching with social justice in mind and teaching for diverse learners. Our projects, discussions, and this blog are demonstrating our comprehension of social justice and our ability to think deeply and apply it to our educational practices.