Over the past few days there have been many things running through my mind, as I’m sure is the case for everyone. As I stated in a previous post, I’ve never been big on social media. More specifically, I’ve never been big on posting my own content. I like using it to connect with friends, and I don’t want to offend or upset people. I like being comfortable.
Then, we had class on Tuesday and I felt convicted.
With social media today we all have the opportunity to speak up to some degree. So, as an educator, I’ve been trying to figure out what my online presence should look like. Should I speak up about issues, or is my comfortable use of media okay?
As much as we might not want to admit, social injustice issues are affecting our communities, and I believe students need to learn about them.
As current events have proven, racism is one of these injustices that needs to be addressed. As this article discussed, “[w]e can’t pretend like race isn’t an issue in our classrooms”. It affects our friends, colleagues, our neighbours, and our students need to be informed about that. They need resources, they need opportunities to act upon change, and they need to see the importance of these issues. They need to know what empathy looks like, and yes, they need to see action aligning with our words.
There’s a lot going on in the world, a lot that needs to be changed. So I ask myself, and you, are we pushing for change? Are we just jumping on the social media bandwagon, posting because “that’s what we do”? Sitting back, staying safe? Or, are we constructively speaking out against injustice, sharing resources, and taking steps towards change?
If you’re like me, those questions are a bit intimidating. So, let’s consider the options in how we, as educators, can respond.
Risks of Staying Silent Online
- What kind of a message am I sending? As Katia shared in a blog post, “silence speaks just as loudly as words”. By not speaking out on social justice issues, I could be seen as if I don’t care.
- It might look like I don’t see importance in issues.
- I side with the oppressor by being a bystander.
- I’m using my white privilege – my privilege that allows me to ignore situations, while others have no choice.
Benefits of Staying Silent Online
- I won’t say something that offends people.
- Instead of posting, I can spend time thinking and educating myself.
- I don’t risk losing my job, or having people think less of me because of what I’ve said.
- I feel comfortable.
I’ve realized I can’t sit here comfortably when there’s so much hurt around me.
While I believe there’s room for silence at times to educate yourself, I also believe educators need to speak up, modelling active citizenship and anti-oppressive education in digital spaces.
“Okay, but what if I mess up?”
Remember, there’s no perfect response. It’s okay to make mistakes.
Without doubt, I need to be responsible about what I post. We’re teachers 24 hours a day and people notice what we do and say. Honestly, I’m still figuring out exactly what speaking out looks like for me on social media platforms as I still fear messing up. Yet, I’m now genuinely uncomfortable with my comfortableness.
I recognize that when I’m modelling anti-oppressive education online and I mess up, I’ll can a step back and remain open to correction. It’s about humility. We’re all growing. Most importantly, it’s about taking steps towards change.
Choose love, speak out when someone’s treating your neighbour wrong, donate to organizations dedicated to change. In fact, here’s some current ways to act in support of recent events. Also, check out my list of “Addressing Social Injustice” resources I’m collecting.
- Yes, teachers have a responsibility to model active citizenship and anti-oppressive education in digital spaces.
- Don’t just post something to please people. Be intentional.
- Be thoughtful and considerate in what you’re posting, looking to groups of people especially effected by the issue for ways to best react and support.
- Ask yourself, “Would I say this in person?”
- Educate yourself.
- Take action. If I don’t, who will?
Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”.
We have a long way to go.
Will you step out of the silence?