Debate #7: Social Media and Social Justice

June 11th’s debate was on the topic of educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice.  Mike and Jacquie on the agree side, Brad and Michala on the disagree side.  On the prevote, I voted with the agree side of the debate.  However, as a few days have passed I am doing more reflecting on the conversations that have been had.

Mike and Jacquie argued the following points.

  • Equip students with the tools and skills for a more equitable world
  • Challenge, confronts, and disrupts misconceptions, untruths, and stereotypes.
  • Provides students with resources needed to their full potential
  • Draws on all student’s talents and strengths.
  • Promotes critical thinking and supports agency for social change.

Brad and Michala countered with the following.

  • Using students as tiny foot soldiers to push the educator’s own personal agenda.
  • There is a need to stay neutral and get students to use critical thinking to determine for themselves.
  • “Picking fights with people”, and the creation of internet trolls.

The Main Take-Aways

My main take-aways from this debate stemmed from the important conversations that we are had in our group conversation.  For me, the conversation is in two different places.  The role of teachers using social media for social justice.  As well as the role of educators using social media with students for social justice.

Role of Teachers Using Social Media for Social Justice

In the blogpost, Teachers Must Hold Themselves Accountable for Dismantling Racial Oppression, Kelisa Wang states, “educators have a responsibility to hold themselves responsible, and hold others mutually accountable to repair of our country and race relations”.  Although the article focuses on race relations in the United States, I believe that we have a responsibility as educators in Canada to reconcile and abide by the calls to action within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Social media can be a way that we can help to reflect and share some of those learnings and steps towards reconciliation. Kelisa Wang provides three ways that we as educators can change the narrative.

  1. Holding ourselves individually and mutually accountable – Educators need to say something when they see it.  As a person with the privilege, we need to challenge everyday bias head-on.
  2. Ensuring representation is at the forefront – Challenge to ensure that people who are not currently at the table are represented on your committee.
  3. Caring about more than ourselves – This is not about personal merit.  It is about representing and providing equity for those who do not have the privilege.

I do believe that teachers need to responsible for using social media and social justice.  However, it needs to be done thoughtfully as we have all seen the impact of someone who has been someone who was attacked by someone with an opposing view.  Eductors do have a responsibility to do this work beyond social media.  Educators have to do the work of educating ourselves about the impacts of colonialism and racism.

Role of Teachers Using Social Media with Students for Social Justice

In the TedTalk video Social Justice Belongs in Our Schools, which was shared as one of the viewings, Sydney Chaffee said it best, “We don’t just teach subjects, we teach people”.  We want our students to become active citizens.  When I was in the classroom, I was mindful to empower students to articulate their own opinions. Chaffee stated the importance of teaching multiple perspectives of history.  I think this is key.  We need to have representation in our classroom, diverse literature, furthermore decolonizing our libraries.  However, the key is to “empower students to articulate their own opinions.” Much of the work of teaching social justice is rooted already in the curriculum. We have opportunities to have these meaningful conversations and essential key learnings, but we need to provide multiple perspectives and multiple narratives.

Do we use social media to teach these narratives?  I personally don’t think social media is the correct approach to teaching social justice.  As I said above:

  • Multiple perspectives, and narratives
  • Allow students to form their own opinions
  • Representation in the classroom
  • Effective teaching of social justice within the curriculum.

In Conclusion

Do educators have a role to play personally when it comes to social media and social justice?  Yes, they do.  But do they have a responsibility to move beyond social justice and social media? Absolutely.  Whether or not educators are posting on social media, the importance is that they are doing to work beyond social media.  Listening, reading, and learning.

Do educators use social media as a means to teach students about social justice? Not necessarily.  Chaffee states the goal is working for justice, and it can create the following: As educators, let’s do the work of diversifying and decolonizing our work.  It is our responsibility to shoulder this work.


Comments (3)

  1. Reply

    I love how you bring up the complexities of our history of Canadians and the need for all citizens to decolonize their perspectives. This can be done by engaging in social media platforms to further educate, understand and lean into relationships that pushes our understanding and helps educators and students to unpack their biases and prejudices that are named and unnamed. Does that mean we need to post and share about our journeys- not necessarily. Furthermore, I am in agreement with you that looking at our schools resources, libraries, required readings, curriculum outcomes is an excellent way to empower diverse and decolonized voices in our classrooms. Great suggestions of tangible and important ways educators and schools can move forward to further enhance student understanding and awareness.

  2. Reply

    Curtis, You have been a social justice warrior to me since June 1st when you bravely addressed this class and changed our conversation from avoidance to supporting the BIPOC community. Even though I don’t feel comfortable using a social media platform to post (or at least not yet), I have been truly inspired by reading the posts of others. Thank you to you and Amanda @amandajebrace for putting together the Wakelet – what a remarkable resource!

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