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Month: March 2023

Debate Wars 5: Do Educators have a Responsibility to use Technology and Social Media to Promote Social Justice?

In this week’s debate we got to hear from the talented groups: Amanda & Jacquie, and Ramsel. Their topic was Do Educators have a Responsibility to use Technology and Social Media to Promote Social Justice? This topic actually caught me by surprise because at first I was like of course! As teachers we should most certainly use technology to spread knowledge on being kinder and compassionate citizens. However, as we discussed as a class and I heard from both sides of the debtate groups I saw a more balanced view. The purpose of education is not to push political agendas or viewpoints, the purpose is to teach subject-specific skills, critical thinking, collaboration, self-discipline, and time management! Of course if along the way we teach students not to be shitty to one another that’s awesome! I fear that some of the  political, social justice movements (while well-intentioned) can actually hinder the learning that can take place in the classroom. As well, it can create futher tensions than building reconciliation and community. Below are the points and overview of each side and my final thoughts.

Affirmative: Amanda & Jacquie

Opening statement video: Video link

Amanda and Jacquie shared the article “Teaching Social Justice in Theory and Practice” by Caitrin Blake.

Teaching Social Justice in Theory and Practice


Blake argues that in order to achieve a socially just classroom, teachers must build a space where students feel safe, and where they feel encouraged to speak openly about their experiences and beliefs.  Students need to know that their voices and opinions are respected by their teachers and fellow classmates.  Students can share their thoughts and ideas, but it is important that they know these things could bring some disagreements.  Although there could be some disagreements, the students’ perspective is still valued.  Teachers can model appropriate behaviours and questions, conversations can be thoughtful. Students see themselves as co-learners rather than competitors.  Students know that disagreements can occur, but they are to use them as a learning experience and by working together, problem solve together to create a solution, and in turn: fostering a community of learners that builds each other up instead of tearing each other down. One way to strengthen your community of learners is to draw upon the experiences of the students found directly within your classroom.  Using information that pulls from different perspectives of the situation that can build upon their prior knowledge. I agree that teachers should “employ books, articles and lesson plans that include diverse voices and cultures. Educators also may need to call upon colleagues or community members from specific backgrounds in order to better understand their cultures.”  Once a teacher has provided an environment where students feel safe, it is then that social justice issues can be brought in. I think social justice (how to be a kind citizen, diverse awareness of those different from self culturally, religiously, etc.) can be a byproduct of the learning that takes place in the classroom but I think as teachers we need to be careful that its’ not the main focus. The main focus needs to be teaching students neutral concepts and to be self-motivated to learn and think on their own too so that one day when they face the world they can make compassionate and informed decisions.

Opposition: Ramsel

Opening statement video: N/A Readings: N/A

Ramsel’s posts and information was not available; however from her presentation I really appreciated her authenticity and her ideas on the ethical components of this debate topic. We are called as teachers to teach our subjects and not to politicize everything.

Final Thoughts

This article shared by classmate Laura Erikson: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/a-lot-of-reason-to-be-afraid-says-censured-teacher-critical-of-the-woke-revolution-in-classrooms feels wrong to support because it goes against the popular discourse today but I really appreciated it. The article highlights the importance of teaching students to be proficient citizens with subject-specific skills and atrributes. However, the current global agenda is so politicized and it’s making the classroom a space not about learning but about assimilating certain agendas and ideas. We need to be careful with this.

Debate Wars 4: Do Educators have a Responsibility to Help their Students Develop Digital Footprints?

In this week’s debate I was one of the participants! It was really tough to debate from the opposition’s side. I felt so conflicted arguing from a position I whole heartedly disagreed with. However, after really digging into our side’s point of view I was able to constructively see where promoting the development of a digital footprint is tricky and that teachers do need to tread wisely. Our opposiing team, Jolaolowa & Laura, took the affirmative stance and nailed their points and argued well. This call to teaching digital literarcy and development is in our curriculim; therefore we are required and mandated as teachers to cautiously yet optimistly prepare the next generation for the unknown digital world ahead.  Below are the points and overview of the argument and my final thoughts.

Debate#7 Educators and schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint – Shivali Blog Post

Affirmative: Jolaolowa & Laura

Opening statement video

The reading/viewing post that stood out most for me from Jolaolowa & Laura was the Ted Talk “Kid, you posted WHAT?! How to raise a digital citizen” by Keegan Korf. I like how she talked about the online world being a safe space for her as none of her family members were involved. I agree! I also grew up in a similiar world where MSN messenger or Facebook were unknown to my family members so I had complete autonomy. However, I was a bit older when Facebook came out (late high school) THANK GOD and it was only available to University students. I cringe to think what I could have posted. I didn’t really start using it until my first year in University.  Her point that according to Buchanan (2016), kids today start using the internet on average when they are a little under 8 years old. Preschoolers really use the internet, even if it is just to choose song or watch cartoons. Most people now regularly access the internet, with older kids (13+) utilising it for social contact and younger kids (9-13) primarily using it for games was shocking! Essentially her argument is that there are simple things that can be done early on to demonstrate students the positive side of utilising the internet, such as leaving a positive digital footprint as opposed to all the negative things they should continuously be on the lookout for. Don’t get me wrong, both are crucial, but I think one side lacks more than the other. The internet and digital technology are rich with information. It is inevitable that our children will use the internet at some point during their time in school. Instead of scaring them away, we should support their use of it. I agree whole heartedly and was reminded that the digital world I grew up with is much more intense now and children more than ever need guidance, mentorship and support!

Opposition: Rahima & Jessica

I’m not going to do a reflection on our own readings as we posted them but overall some points on the reading piece! IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE to find any support for this topic. Perhaps we weren’t being creative enough or looking for the right things. I even used CHAT GPT to try to find articles or documents and all the suggestions they gave were fake links! I felt like we were looking for a needle in a haystack so what we were able to find worked but I felt like there was no articles or support to argue against supporting developing student digital footprints. It was really bizarre to be honest.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think that was a pretty bad ass debate and both Rahima & I, and Jolaolowa & Laura did a great job!

Debate Wars 3: Has Technology Led to a More Equitable Society?

In this week’s debate we got to hear from the tech savvy groups: Kennedy & Ummey vs. Jeff & Graeme. The topic was Has Technology Led to a More Equitable Society? This was also a pretty tough topic as I can see both viewpoints. On one hand I think that tech opens so many doors for isolated communities that would otherwise be excluded from the digital world, but then I also can see how tech creates further barriers and shines a light on those that have $$$ to go towards the latest technology and those that don’t. Below are the points and overview of each side and my final thoughts.

Creating connections through digital equity

Affirmative: Kennedy & Ummey

Kennedy & Ummey shared the article Bridging The Gap  by Don Hall! Which is a pretty interesting read. I appreciated the balance of visuals and text. He explains how attempts to close the digital gap actually brought forth findings of how technology has created equitable learning experiences for students. “Bridging The Gap” is a program that was designed to bridge the divide that technology had created. This program was directed towards students without access to technology at home. The program is entirely student driven & has been held for 3 years successfully. The overall goal of this program was to integrate student learning into the homes of families, which resulted in over 3,000 homes being supplied with technology. This program has brought attention to how technology can help to bring a community together while also providing equality within that community. Hall finishes this article by questioning if the digital gap can in fact be closed, his answer is as follows, “However, if you define closing the digital gap as providing equitable learning opportunities for all your students and ensuring they are successfully prepared for their future where technology plays a valuable role in helping that to occur, then the answer is a definite yes” (p. 18). This article is definitely honest in affirming that brdiging the gap entirely is futile, yet it is hopeful in striving for that anyway, which I appreciated.

Opposition: Jeff & Graeme

Hands down this debate video was probably the best we have seen so far this semester! It was on point, relevant and fun! It reminded me a lot of the first group’s video and had a similiar spirit. I appreciated the playfullness and the use of their interest of hockey, and a homage to Don Cherry in his better days.

The reading that I was drawn to was the article from the Harvard Political Review by Alyvia Bruce “Bridging the Technological Divide in Education.” Bruce provides an overview of some of the main reasons for the divide related to technology and education which are predominantly: Income inequality between families, and also school districts. The gaps between district resource spending have spread inequity amongst neighboring communities.  Covid-19 created a monster, forcing students to work from home on inadequate technology, creating a digital divide amongst students of lower income families.  The article reports that the average student lost roughly 6.8 months of learning through the pandemic, while students whose families fell into the low income category were closer to a year of lost learning, 12.4 months.  These numbers increased once students were placed into rural settings as well. Her call to action is that the “root of the issue lays in the need for a foundational educational reform nation-wide. Everyone deserves a fair chance at educational success, and the only way to achieve this for all students is by reforming educational institutions from the ground up.”

Final Thoughts

I think this is a hard topic because ultimately like Kennedy & Ummey’s article by Don Hall states pretty bluntly bridging the gap for economic disparity is close to impossible! We will always sadly live in a world where there are people who have less and others that have more. So I don’t think a world with or without technology creates a greater disparity; however, in the video below (it’s a tad sensationalized I will admit but a descent compilation)  Elon Musk shares that AI and technology make us super human (3:35 – 4:17). Therefore I worry about those in power that have access and use it in a way that’s bad or dangerous even! This for sure creates a very inequitable society so it’s hard to say. I think it’s on us as a soceity to demand proper regulation.