The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 7 – Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.

It is hard to not be invested in this topic, especially with all of the news stories taking place around the world. Originally for me, I was actually leaning towards the disagreement side of this statement. I think that teachers can get into a lot of trouble when it comes to posting about their own person views on social media. I have a friend who has family members apart of the Co-op Refinery / Unifor strike, and I have seen the backlash that he receives, in addition to the countless arguments of how is enforcing his social views on onto his students.

My opinion changed when reading the annotated readings for this debate. Specifically, it was the TEDTalk video with Sydney Chafee. There was one line in particular that swayed my view. This was when Chafee said “teachers don’t just teach subjects, we teach people.” Brilliant! Although I teach the subjects of math and science in my school, I am also teaching students all types of other skills they will need for their future.

PreVote

PreVote: Agree 50%, Disagree 50%

Agree

Jacquie and Mike did a great job arguing how it is the responsibility of teachers to use technology and social media to promote social justice. They shared an article by author Sonia Nieto that discusses how social justice in education includes four components:

  1. Challenges, confronts, and disrupts misconceptions, untruths and stereotypes.
  2. Provides students with resources needed to their full potential.
  3. Draws on all students talents and strengths.
  4. Promotes critical thinking and supports agency for social change.

Another point that is brought up is that promoting social justice allows students to become problems solvers, critical thinkers, collaborators, build perseverance, learn historical context, and allows for learning outside the school walls. I would also have to say that the final clip in their video has a powerful message.

Jacquie and Mike Debate Introduction Video

Disagree

To counter, Brad and Michala did an excellent job of explaining why it is not the teachers job to use social media to promote social justice. The duo created a video that allowed “people” to share their opinions on the matter.

Teachers should be neutral: This is an important, yet difficult point to get across. It is important to show students that we are all entitled to our opinion, but we also need to make sure that we are not pushing our opinions onto our students. Yet, there are instances where students come in, start an argument over a topic, and you can tell that the student is just repeating what they have heard from their parents. For one instance, I have a student that struggles to learn anything to do with government, because his parents have such a strong view against Justin Trudeau. As a result, whenever we try to teach this student anything about the Liberal party, the only thing we end up hearing from this students is negative comments. It is still important for us as educators to teach students to form their own opinions on subjects, and to not be swayed by others.

Not creating tiny foot soldiers: I think that Brad summed this point up perfectly when he shared his experience about the schools recycling program. What seemed to be something positive, and created by the students of the school was quickly turned around by someone claiming that the was the intention of the classroom teacher trying to orchestrate their own personal agenda. I think that the biggest point that I got out of this story was the support that Brad had from his administrator. It is important to share news with administration about what you are planning on doing in the school so that they are able to field questions regarding issues.

Brad and Michala Debate Introduction Video

Results

PostVote: Agree 63%, Disagree 37%

Conclusion

As I reflect back on this debate, I agree that social justice is a topic that we need to educate students about. The problem that I am still facing is that the word of the original statement is actually debating two things. First, it is debating that we should be using technology to promote social justice. For this topic, I absolutely agree. The more controversial section is that social media should be used to promote social justice. I just think that there are alternative ways to show students about social justice, rather than giving students social media accounts and allowing them to respond online.

I agree that it is important to show students that it is okay to have alternative views regarding controversial topics. I think it is even more important to explain why. An example is an experience I was put in when I was brand new to my current school. I teach in a small conservative town, so naturally there is a lot of judgement towards the LGBT community. I was shocked my first week of teaching when I kept hearing students use the term gay, fag, etc. What I explained to students is that I have family members that are apart of the LGBT community, and I personal felt attacked whenever students used these terms. I explained that I understood they were open to their own interpretations, and beliefs. However, I also said that I personally would feel better if they didn’t use these terms at school. Four years later, I rarely hear any of those terms. I feel as though this is a good way to share with students about the LGBT community, rather than looking at social media to share opinions.

Finally, I would like to thank all of those apart of the class who shared their personal stories regarding the topic of social justice. It is powerful to learn from others, and to listen to alternative ways people live.

5 thoughts on “The Great EdTech Debate: Episode 7 – Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.

  1. Hi Skyler, great response. I agree with all of your statements above. I also work in many small rural towns and I have seen the backlash that differing viewpoints have. I personally rarely get people who challenge my beliefs online or when I was in the classroom, which I believe is a sign of my personal privilege, but if I did get challenged in my teaching I believe that if you have a network of people who support the learning, and that your administrator is informed, and the learning is based in curriculum it is often hard to argue. Thank you for your insights in the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Skyler,
    I loved reading your blog post. I agree with you on the importance of teaching students social justice to be able to make informed decisions later on in life. I particularly liked that you mentioned the importance of talking to administration about your plan, in case things don’t turn out the way we expect. I think we have to be careful how we approach controversial topics since the students and their families might have different beliefs. I have friends who are not happy about the school teaching Fully Alive to their children since they have different religious beliefs that they want to address at home.
    I personally do not think that social media is the safest way for us to promote social justice, since after we hit the post button, anything can be done with our posts and often times things end up being taken out of context. Luckily, in Canada it is safer to share social views, but depending on place and time, this can always change. Since social media presence becomes part of our students’ digital footprint, I think we need to let them decide on what level to be part of it.
    Thanks,
    Melinda

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post. I agree with Melinda– posting this type of content online could very easily be taken out of context. That being said, things I say and do in the classroom can be taken out of context, as well. It’ll just take a little bit longer for the misinterpretation to get sent to administration.

    It’s definitely important to keep admin in the loop when tackling things like this. Documentation is key, as well. Are we looking at multiple perspectives on the issue? Am I allowing for debate and critical thinking to take place? Do I encourage students to disagree with me?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! Thank you for sharing your personal experience at your school. It demonstrates the power of educating the youth we work with everyday and that by just having a conversation with them can make a difference. You make a valid point Mike in saying that what we say in the classroom can also be taken out of context, it just takes longer to get to the admin. I agree that documentation as a teacher is key.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Skyler the quote you used by Chafee saying that “teachers don’t just teach subjects, we teach people” resonated with me. On a personal level, I think that most of us can remember the stand out teachers that we had with very little recollection of what information they actually taught us. Years later it is the feelings they gave us and the insight on how to cope with life that resonates with and not all of the information in the curriculum. They were people before they entered the classroom and they will be people when they leave and it is good to be reminded of that every once and awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s