Solidarity in Silence?

I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a bit of time in a few different classrooms looking in from a professional standpoint rather than that of a student, and one thing I’ve learnt is that tough conversations are had nearly every day in the classroom. Sometimes they are uncomfortable, emotional, and eye-opening for all parties involved. Sometimes nothing changes at all. Still, they are always worth having. 

Times like these are tough for teachers. I’ve been watching and listening to the teachers in my personal life open up about the struggles they are encountering in how to talk about uncomfortable topics with their students. George Floyd’s death and the protests around it have now been highly politicized and have quickly turned polarizing. It is tough when there are feelings of restriction in what is appropriate to talk about. There will always be parents and members of the community who don’t agree with what children are taught and how they are taught it. So with that said, I do feel that every educator has a responsibility to model active citizenship and anti-oppressive education, whether it is in a physical space or an online space.

Photo by StuffGraceMade on Instagram

Writing this post itself has been an uncomfortable test. Personally, I find it challenging to try and define someone’s role when I have not worn those shoes myself. However, when we are silent in the face of injustice, we are complicit. If teachers are not talking about anti-oppressive education in an open and unbiased (as unbiased as possible, although we all know we carry bias’) way, then many students may never hear another viewpoint than what they were raised with. Teachers should encourage students to educate themselves so that they can think critically and make their own choices. I strongly believe that it is not a teachers job to tell a student what to think, but rather to teach them how to think.

It is understandable that some teachers do not want to talk about social justice issues online. What if the community becomes upset? What if their employer does not feel the same way? What if they say the wrong thing? These are all valid concerns. On the other hand, other damage can come from an educator staying silent. Others may be more afraid to speak out. Minority students and families could feel as though they are not supported or welcomed. Others may not be challenged in their thinking. I think it is up to educators to inform and educate, otherwise, whose job is it?

3 thoughts on “Solidarity in Silence?

  1. This is very important; we need to teach students about social justice issues but keep out our bias’s as best as we can. We should feel safe with trusting students to make their own decisions when educated about the social justice issues.

    You never know when someone will go against certain topics being taught to their children, but our job is to educate students about important issues, and especially issues that affect them.

    Thanks for the read today,


  2. Annissa,

    Thanks for the post! I agree, this post was a bit challenging and uncomfortable for me as well. But like you said, we’re going to have tough conversations with students, parents and others teachers so we have to learn to do it. I’m learning a lot this week and it seem you are too!

  3. Good afternoon,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think that your perspective and insight is great. You are so right it is challenging and not matter what someone is not going to agree. I really appreciated when you said that we need to teach students how to think not what to think. There is a fine line that sometimes seems to get tested if students do not think the way their teacher does. Thanks again for sharing, it is always interesting to read your posts.

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