Even as I prepared for the debate, I often asked myself – what are my views on bringing social justice into the classroom? I often wondered is it better to stay neutral or not say anything at all. But then as educators we have to ask ourselves, by staying neutral are we being oppressive? As Amanda and I stated in our debate, “The question then becomes, do teachers have a responsibility to model active citizenship and anti-oppressive education in digital spaces as well, and what are the risks (and benefits) of staying silent about social justice issues online? Can we use our own social media platforms to voice our own Social Justice path? My thought is yes we can, as long as we are doing it in a positive way, yes some issues can be that of a slippery slope, I think that it is up to you to use your discretions with how vocal you want to be.
The Resilient Educator website is a great starter resource to look at if you are thinking about bringing social justice learning into your classroom. Our goal is to create a community of learners that we want to be critical thinkers. I believe there is a much larger picture that needs to be looked at for a child to have a social justice voice and we as educators have a platform that can help our students to do so. We can create a safe space where students feel comfortable to share their voice and opinion. Students know and understand that not everyone will share their opinion and that is alright. Once our student have recognized and discussed the social justice issues, we now can help guide students to act upon the issues that they see. Teachers can help students with activist strategies like social media campaigns, demonstrations, sit-ins to raise awareness of an issue to build and bring positive change. We can use positive role models like Greta Thunberg who has used their social media platforms to spread their message world wide. Many people have stopped and taken notice on her work.
Educators like Sydnee Chaffee shows how teaching students to engage in activism helps them build important academic and life skills — and asks us to rethink how we can use education to help kids find their voices. “Teaching will always be a political act,” Chaffee says. “We can’t be afraid of our students’ power. Their power will help them make tomorrow better.” Although she has had a lot of backlash that activism does not belong in out classrooms, and her answer is absolutely it does.
I had the opportunity to listen to Zoey Roy at the Regina Teacher’s Convention this past fall. She spoke passionately about her experiences as a youth and an educator, and as an artist. She is someone who has overcome a lot and she has a very powerful message. In her words she is “Artist. Activator. Aunty. Zoey Roy is a rebel with a cause.” She is another example of an educator that has “walked the walk”
Although social justice can be a scary path to follow I think that we follow the path that you want to follow to speak your voice that enables your students to feel that they have a space to speak their voice. Social media is literally at everyone’s fingertips and it can be a powerful tool to let our voices to be heard and we can use our own social media to help guide our students down the correct path.