The Final Debate – Social Media and Social Justice

What a debate to end the semester! As always, both sides presented strong arguments and the discussion that ensued was powerful. Jacquie and Mike started us off with the definition of social justice and explained according to author Sonia Nieto 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.

Their video also discussed the views of Sydney Chaffee, a teacher in the United States who strongly believes social justice belongs in our schools.

In her Ted Talk, Chaffee states:

Teachers don’t just teach subjects, we teach people. If we insist that education happens in a vacuum we do our students a disservice. We teach them education doesn’t really matter because it’s not relevant to what is happening all around them.

We know what is happening all around them. An entire world full of issues that aren’t necessarily written into specific outcomes in the curriculum. I believe our role as educators is to provide students with opportunities to develop critical thinking skills, to question, to challenge, to create informed opinions. We must do that through a social justice lens. I think that we all agreed with that statement. The debate really wasn’t about IF social justice should be taught but rather if social media be used to teach it.

Brad and Michala presented their side with a satirical look at the issues promoting social justice through social media can create. One point they made is do we really want students to go online to “pick fights with people”? Is opening them up to internet trolls going to be helpful? They also discussed the importance of building relationships and face to face communication. Both of which do not happen in the same way through social media. For me these are the biggest issue with becoming an activist online. I believe in social justice and have seen amazing examples of what students can do. I just am undecided if social media is always the best place. It is what prevents me from doing a lot of posting. I am on social media, I read a lot on twitter and “keep up” with friends and family on Facebook. But I don’t post a lot. I am really trying to be present online and want to develop my identity there as well. I struggle with posting things as I watch the cancel culture, as Alec called it, that we currently live in. One misstep online can be detrimental.

While our discussion was leading to extreme examples, Dean made a comment that really stuck with me. Social justice doesn’t have to be extreme, it can be things that get kids thinking about being a better human being. So very true! Michala then pointed out that something such as handing out food hampers fits that description but then why does it need to be tweeted out? What is the intent? To help others or to help others and get credit for it? So many things to think about!

The entire discussion was thought provoking and I am still reflecting on it. Melinda and Altan sharing their personal stories was courageous and powerful. Here I am thinking that I don’t like to always post things online but yet I have the choice. Their experiences really made me think about the privilege I have living in Canada. Jacquie’s final statement was eloquent, moving, and perfectly summarized the ideas and emotions of the night. I am linking the class video here as I want to be able to go back and listen to those words again.

While this post may not be as well put together, it’s because I feel there is still so much to learn and reflect on. I thank you all for such a powerful conversation.


2 thoughts on “The Final Debate – Social Media and Social Justice

  1. jacquiemurray June 13, 2020 / 2:38 pm

    Hi Laurie,
    Like you, I am still processing Thursday’s debate. I felt like so much was shared and all of it was important and timely and inspiring and courageous and scary! I think that was my major take away from that discussion- it’s not about figuring out an answer, but rather leaning into the conversation with an open heart and mind as it will plant seeds that will lead us to the next right step in our personal and professional lives. It was quite the thing to be a part of and to learn so much from each other through our discussions and those personal shares.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alyssamckenzie June 13, 2020 / 4:50 pm

    You have a very thought provoking post. I found the TedTalk you posted about Social Justice Belonging in our schools to be incredibly relevant and accurate. I could not agree more. I was also moved by your point “I don’t always like to post online, but yet I have the choice”. This truly is the realty of getting to live in a country like Canada. Thank you for your moving and educational post.

    Liked by 1 person

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