Are Educators Social Justice Warriors?

Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice. This was our final debate topic of the class. Like every topic, I say this is a complex subject. In today’s world, this is so relevant and I thoroughly enjoyed discussing and hearing from my classmates. It was a great matter to end the debates on. Educators have always had the job to nurture and guide students to become positive leaders in our communities. Teachers should have a passion to promote kindness and being the ‘change in the world we want to see’. This doesn’t always have to tackle controversial topics in our world. Going into the debate, I was thinking about more controversial topics and if teachers should be addressing each of them. In our classrooms, I believe we should teach social justice. On social media, I am weary. Conversations face-to-face give you the connection to understand each other, your beliefs, where your opinion may come from and you’re able to have a real discussion. Social media has become a place that is not always safe to share your views on an issue and we see over and over people being attacked by others. There isn’t the same understanding and connection as being face-to-face. Being a teacher and posting on a public platform can be very powerful and positive or have negative consequences.

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I like to use the resources from CrashCourse on YouTube in my teaching and for my personal understanding. They dive into many topics that we discussed and explain them in a way that is easy to comprehend for students. The videos provoke many good conversations within the classroom.

Debate

On the agree side, Mike and Jacquie created a great video to open up the debate. They argued that all educators have a responsibility to advocate social justice issues in our community and world. They shared great articles and resources. One that stuck out to me was the TedTalk with Sydnee Chaffee titled Social Justice Belongs in our Schools. Sydnee stated that “Teachers don’t just teach subjects, we teach people.” She argues we are doing students a disservice by not be teaching social justice issues and having tough conversations. If we just teach the curriculum, we are not teaching what is relevant around them. Teachers need to speak up and teach students to stand up for what is right. Educators should be modelling this for their students. But what is the best way to do that? Is social media the best platform to use? I am still going back and forth with this particular part of the debate. I 100% agree teachers need to be social justice warriors, but I am not sure social media is the best place to do so? There is a lot of misinformation around matters and teachers have to insure they are teaching students how to distinguish between what they are reading or sharing to be true.

Brad and Michala displayed Brad’s wonderful acting skills in their video disagreeing with the statement. They brought up the points that teachers should be neutral, assumptions could be made about them, what kids say online sticks with them forever, and that face-to-face interactions is the best way to have these conversations. They talked about the argument of how effective ‘slactivism’ actually is online. ‘Slactivism’ is defined as “the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions, characterized as involving very little effort or commitment.” So again I ask the question ‘Is social media the best way for teachers to go about social justice issues?’ Brad discussed the possibility of creating students to be little foot soldiers for causes that are important to a particular teacher. He told an example from his career and stated that “Once media gets a hold of something, it’s not yours anymore.” It could be twisted or presented in a way that wasn’t intended. The conversation went into whether or not the act is authentic if it’s put on social media. I have scrolled across many amazing examples of kids using social media to display what they are doing to make the world a better place, especially recently. Social media can be a positive place to raise awareness of current issues in our world. Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice says to use literature to teach issues in the classroom. There are so many great books out there to teach kids of all ages about social justice. Teachers should have a diverse library to give students opportunities to see themselves in books and to learn important life lessons.

Thoughts

‘Heavy’ is what my classmate Jill described this debate to be in her blog. This is a very heavy topic but I also feel this word expresses how I have felt over the last few weeks processing all that is going on in our world and what our role is. I felt worried going into the debate that I may say something wrong or offensive. It’s a touchy subject right now and I appreciated the conversation and input from my classmates. The way my classmates were open and vulnerable brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Melinda and Alton for sharing your personal stories.

I believe all educators went into the profession to make the world a better place. Teachers naturally have a passion for the younger generation and want to see them make a difference in the world. It is important for teachers to create an environment that allows students to feel safe to share and have real face-to-face conversations about issues in our world. It doesn’t have to always be controversial topics. As a primary teacher, I work hard all year to create a space that promotes kindness, fairness, and respect-our school values. It starts in our classrooms and we hope that in doing this, it will spread to the streets. Social-emotional learning and character building is an important part of my teaching. I have students that come to school not knowing any manners, how to share, play, or make friends. School teaches these skills to many children that don’t get that at home. At a young age students need to learn to be kind, inclusive, empathetic, compassionate, have perseverance, self control and more. We teach children to stand up to someone being a ‘bully’ on the playground. In the same way we want to teach them to speak up when they see injustices in the world and not just be a bystander. As students get older, we must teach the proper way to do this on social media. In conclusion, yes educators need to teach social justice in their classroom, but I’ll need more convincing for it to go onto social media. Myself, choosing not to be a regular social media user may be biased about that part. Class discussions and actions are extremely important but may not always have to transfer to the online world. The hope is that what happens in the classroom will flow out in a positive way to create change in our world.

Thank you for reading my last post about our debates! I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and seeing so many sides and aspects to one topic.

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Published by christinapatt13

I am a grade 2/3 teacher in Regina, Sask. "The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

6 thoughts on “Are Educators Social Justice Warriors?

  1. Great post, Christina. I particularly liked that you included that link to the Crash Course video. I find that when there is a difficult topic that we teach in the classroom, I try to show students the crash course video. I then dissect it with students, answer questions that they have. Now sometimes the subject matter goes beyond my knowledge. In these situations, I allow students to research for answers, and communicate understanding with the class. As for social justice, I too do not use social media frequently and may also be biased on if we should encourage the use of social media to promote social justice. This is especially true in a world where people get their feelings hurt so frequently.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Christina,

    It’s been a pleasure to read your blog post. I couldn’t agree more with you regarding teaching students social justice, but about promoting it on social media, I am not convinced either. It might be the result of the things I experienced growing up, but we have to remember that there are still places in the world where standing up for your views is not safe. I think teaching our students to be critical thinkers and make informed decisions is crucial, but I would like to give them the power to decide what to share on social media since it is going to be part of their digital tattoo.
    Thank you,
    Melinda

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really appreciated your paragraph on how teachers just want the best for our youth moving forward. I so agree and feel that we are missing out on so many valuable conversations with our students because we are not in the classroom during some pretty big moments. Online class calls just do not feel the same and allow for the same discussions to happen. Thanks for a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Christina,

    Great post! I think you really put into perspective the impact that teachers can have on the future generation. As an elementary teacher I too have found the benefits of social emotional learning. I agree that for some students, they are not learning these skills at home. It makes me think of Jody Carrington and how “we need to walk our babies home” when they are emotionally dis-regulated. I also agree with you about having conversations about social justice issues face to face where we are better able to connect and understand each other. Thanks for the thoughtful read!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for such a great read! And for introducing me to CrashCourse (I can’t wait to check this out and use it in my classroom!). I have to say that I agree with you 100% on your statement about needing more convincing for the use of social media. I feel I am in the same boat as you when it comes to this idea. Especially teaching younger students, I feel like that face-to-face component is so crucial. Perhaps this may be easier to understand, or visualize, if I taught older grades? Or if I was a more active participant in social media myself? That being said, online or in the classroom, your last statement about what happens in the classroom will hopefully flow out and make positive changes in the world is really all we can ask for as educators!

    Liked by 1 person

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