Influence of Social Justice at School
Having a positive impact on students is what almost all teachers are committed to . They usually declare that: “I want my students get into responsible citizens. I need my students to help society in an active, involved way.” Or maybe, “I want my pupils to change the world.” But just how many teachers know how to make that happen? Can we explicitly instruct learners to change the world? Perhaps not, but we are able to teach the students about the examples of injustices not only in the world history but also in our current time . Exposing the students to these injustices, and also showing the way, they had been overcome could help to nurture responsible, active and world changing citizens. Traditionally, schools have been acting as operating system for social justice, providing a venue for exploring, emphasizing and reflecting on new and current opinions of scholars. In addition to referring to meaningful academic content, teachers should help students to develop critical thinking skills, holistic approach and self-reflection skills that can promote a promising society. If educational outcomes are supposed to generate students who are able to administer a better society, what are the means, and elements? It has been prove that students’ awareness about social issues are linked to their potential to develop efficient solutions to tackle injustice in their society. However, social justice isn’t only about teaching right from wrong and raising awareness of social justice topics, it is also about action. Social justice education includes stimulating the moral and spiritual development of children and encouraging them to learn how to respect differences between individuals, identify social injustices in the world around them, and take collaborative and effective action to address the social injustices. As the diversity in North America keeps rising, the necessity of bringing the issues of social justice into education will persist. Social justice issues related to race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion (to name just a few), have been at the top of political and media ideologies, and educating children on these topics are essential to enable them become active citizens. Issues of social justice don’t present themselves in a single way, nor can interaction with them be learned through immediate education. It involves critical evaluation of self, others, and incidents to identify patterns of injustice , and then needs an investigation of possible ways to address the problems . Social justice activities attempt to develop a society where people have equal access to resources and receive equal care regardless of colour, gender, religion, orientation , income or disability (Hackman, 2005). The classroom for social studies are a proper setting for enabling a equality-focused teaching method, as productive social study instruction encourages open discussions, in which different views and experiences are expressed and reflectively examined. Putting theory into practice can be difficult for classroom teachers. However, following a model that creates a mindful climate, demonstrate validity, builds up critical thinking skills, and produces action plans can guide instruction into the desired direction.
First, it is important to actively enforce a classroom climate responsive to education in social justice. This can be achieved in a number of ways, but it should begin with encouraging students to foster self-love, and respect for others (Picower, 2012). Educators should provide opportunities for young people to understand who they are and where they have come from. Students must study different traits of their identities, and the histories connected with them and should interpret stereotypes about their identities. In addition, educators can provide opportunities for students to share information about their cultural background, and foster a culture of gratitude by learning to listen with compassion and kindness to their peers’ experiences. It is crucial to create such an environment to help students to see each other as co-learner instead of competitors. In this way , the learning process can be treated as journey to problem solving rather than a path to success only accessible to a few students. By creating this kind of classroom setting teachers allow students to build each other up in conversation and action (Hackman, 2005).
The topics covered in the class also must be relevant. When a suitable learning climate has been formed,real- world issues can be discussed. Both students and teachers need to be able to answer the question, Why is this information important and how does it affect me or others? Students need to be able to recognize real world problems, and critically react to them. They also need to be taught the ways injustice is treated as normal treatment as a part of adolescent experience in their own action and those of peers. Bulling, friendship and dating misbehaviour and racism are some examples of such issues that demand young learners critical thinking.
Educators should help students to explore how it is possible to experience diversities injustice that has marginalized populations, and should make links between that injustice and its effects on individuals. Teachers may also provide examples for campaigns challenging social injustices and to help children recognize that collaboration has brought together ordinary people to bring about change. Students need to understand and deal with real world issues (Picower, 2012).
Then, the teacher needs to focus on understanding of content, and critical thinking . According to Hackman (2005), obtaining information is the foundation for learning, and students cannot effectively support positive, meaningful social change without divers sources of knowledge . In addition , critical thinking skills needed to be cultivated, because content knowledge alone is inadequate to properly prepare students to become active agents of change, and social justice in their lives and communities (Hackman, 2005). To foster a deep understanding of the topic, Students need to be able to analyze, decode, and evaluate information . Collecting information alone does not lead to this deep understanding, which in return does not create a route for action (Hackman, 2005). In this regard, Freire (1973) argued that the presentation of information without participating in the questioning of that information can lead to creating strict environment that is not helpful to social justice learning. Freire believes that in classroom centred on social justice, all content must be open to question and criticism. This invites students to move beyond simply accepting the messages they receive in their lives, and to examine such messages in a broad, and critical manner.
Eventually , without action, a concept of social justice in education is not complete. Action is a key and valuable aspect of a social justice point of view on education(Brown, 2004). This kind of teaching and learning instructs future teachers to be proactive rather than reactive and to embrace conflict rather than ignore it (Brown, 2004). Here, teachers provide students with opportunities to bring awareness and action plans to social justice topics by allowing students to teach their peers about the injustices and advocate for action opportunities. Teachers may help their students gain the skills needed to create change firsthand by including activities such as creating petitions, protesting, or writing letters to officials.
An ultimate goal of teaching from a social justice perspective should be to prepare students for actively participation in our democratic society. Whether educators are exposing the students to these topics through the curriculum, through current events, through extra-curricular activities, or through unplanned teachable moments, this exposure is critical to the growth children. The more awarenesses of social problems we can bring to our students, the more knowledgeable and productive they will be in formulating solutions. Yet, enforcing this type of education can be problematic. Instructors often have the inspiration to teach for social justice but lack of acceptable framework to follow make them disappointed or confuse. By having access to a Social Justice Classroom Framework, a simple and clear one, teachers can implement social justice issues into everyday lessons and dialogues. Maybe then, we, as teachers, may help educate accountable, effective and world-changing citizens.
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