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

We’ve had some interesting discussions thus far during class regarding social justice, and integrating it into our teaching content.  It has been a pleasure to learn some ideas and thoughts from other students with regards to their learned experiences in school based on the states, and/or countries that they are from.  It is evident that the location, society, and size of where we all are from have an impact on our learning, in addition to our perspectives with regards to integrating social justice into our teachings.

Social Justice refers to the equal opportunity between an individual and society; however, will this ever be the case…will we as a society ever be fair with one another, and will the playing field ever truly be level.  Depending on who you ask this answer will differ greatly; however, the first hurdle is getting society to acknowledge that there is such a gap, that there is such an imbalance of social justice, and then be willing to make the change in order to close that gap.  We see it in all aspects with regards to race, wages for women compared to men in the same job title & with the same qualifications, as well as within the court systems and sentencing.

Knowledge is power and as future educators we have an obligation to not only appreciate the views of our students at their current points, but to empower them to open their eyes, open their minds, and open their souls to other possibilities.  We are not here to force someone into believing our views, but to have them respect one another, and understand that social justice has been a huge crises within the country, and an unknown crises for the future.  We were all born innocent and remembering this fact, and understanding that in most cases we are a product of our society can help us understand how these things have shaped our views of society today.  This does not mean that our views can’t and won’t change for the future; but again, as teachers we have an obligation to prepare our students and give them this knowledge so that they are able to make educated and conscious decisions in the future with respects to social justice, and/or social in-justice.

Integrating social justice into our classrooms begins with knowing our students, taking the time to understand them, and understanding what they will need in order to be successful.  Success comes in many forms and as educators, this is a role that we must understand and embrace, so that we can allow our students the greatest chance at success.  I have had the pleasure of experiencing many cultures, countries, and customs; one reason I continue to keep an open mind and understand that social justice is always going to be an issue within society.  This fact as allowed me to embrace many things, and a quality that I hope to pass on to my future students.

My fear-is that I won’t be enough…won’t have enough time to prepare my students…and won’t be able to fully give them the opportunity that I have had over the years in many aspects.  They always say you can’t save them all…you can’t teach them all…but why not. I end the post with a quote from a known author, and it is as follows:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.”

-Marianne Williamson

 

We Are Responsible

As individuals entering the field of education to hopefully become professional educators, we have an important responsibility to our students, the culture of the school district and the community to create an atmosphere of acceptance and connectedness. In a recent article that I had read, I was actually shocked to find that in the past discrimination and stereotypes were like a lens through which some educators and other professionals approached the task of educating in order to maintain the system of white privilege. Because of this system that is still in place, many “students of color…may have fewer advocates to protect them” (Connor). This article talks mostly about special education services that created segregation because of biases. We must act as advocates in every opportunity.

Teachers would be in a perfect position to dispel prejudice and injustice in their students’ minds. In order to do this we must “be working against the grain and be willing to see themselves as agents of change” (Kohl). This may seem like a daunting task, but it is really simple. Teach policies of no tolerance for social injustice. Cultivate an atmosphere of acceptance. Teach by example and seize every opportunity to take a situation or circumstance that could potentially form harmful ideologies in students’ minds and show how it can be much better.

 

Kohl, H. (2002). Developing Teachers for Social Justice. The Radical Teacher, 65, 5-10.

Connor, D. J., & Ferri, B. A. (2005). Integration and Inclusion: A Troubling Nexus : Race, Disability, and Special Education. The Journal of African American History, 90, 107-127.

An Educators Responsibility

As an educator of our youth, I believe that it is my responsibility to guide my students into having an open mind about social justice, prejudice, and exclusion.  At a young age, students should be guided, rather than taught to stand up against these prominent issues that we see everyday. The primary goal of Social Justice Education is to prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to confront social inequality in society and promote equity within their sphere of influence (Adams, 2010). As teachers we are some of the biggest role models our students have and if we take the time to show our students how to stand up for prejudice, social justice, and exclusion, the future may become a better place.  Poplin (2005) states, Teachers must be educated to understand their responsibilities regarding the content of their instruction and the results they are to achieve for all the students they teach. To do this, teachers must know and be able to work effectively with state standards and assessments.I truly believe this reflects all areas of teaching.  

I believe that students should be exposed to these issues at the elementary school level.  If teachers model to students at a young age, the students may follow and remember their rights and the rights of others.  As the students get older, they are exposed to more and more issues and it is difficult to reshape their minds. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.  I believe that if this is instilled at a young age, students will have an open mind regarding others.

References

Adams, M., & Marchesani, L. (1997). Multiple issues course overview. In M. Adams, L. A. Bell,& P Griffin (Eds.), Teaching for diversity and social justice (pp. 261-275). New York: Routledge.

Poplin, M., & Rivera, J. (2005). Merging Social Justice and Accountability: Educating Qualified and Effective Teachers. Theory Into Practice, 27-37.

Struthers, A. C. (2016). Human Rights: A Topic Too Controversial for Mainstream Education?. Human Rights Law Review, 16(1), 131-162. doi:10.1093/hrlr/ngv040