Debate #4: Educators, Responsibility, and Social Justice

Debate #4 was possibly the most personally interesting debate yet. While much of the discussion on the surrounding factors was intriguing, I found the wording of the prompt to be extremely important. For those of you who were not present in class, the prompt read:

“Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice. Agree or Disagree?”

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Our class overwhelmingly accepted that teachers and those in positions of power or influence should be strong supporters of social justice. As Kari, Jennifer, and Jessica, discussed, encouraging teachers to remain neutral on devise issues is simply not good enough in today’s society.

All images via Plexels.

 As Angela Watson writes on her Truth for Teachers Blog, “So for us to say our role is to be neutral is to operate from a place of privilege. Not privilege as in wealth — that’s just one of many types of privilege, and one that most educators don’t have. Our place of privilege is choosing not to pay attention to these stories or take a position on them because we are not personally impacted.”

If we do not stand up to inequalities and injustices, we are allowing them to continue to remain commonplace (both in our physical and online worlds.) This is behaviour that we cannot afford to model for our students if we want them to grow up in a more accepting world than we did.

However, Dalton and Brooke also explained numerous reasons why teachers may not want to pursue divisive topics online. Many teachers, particularly those new to the profession may be fearful of tarnishing relationships with parents, administration or colleagues, as well as worry about how their online presence may affect future career prospects. Teachers may also fear repercussions or lack of support from professional boards if they do speak out online.

Personally (as Kelly pointed out during our live discussion,) I find the term responsibility is extremely important when discussing this debate. In the context of this debate topic, the term responsibility could be easily construed as a synonym for requirement. Debates about the constant increase in teacher ‘responsibilities’ (that are more often than not actually requirements,) seems to have increased each year during my career.

This got me thinking- If we were to reword our prompt to include numerical values, I believe the prompt could remain quite similar in nature, but be viewed quite differently. If a school division or administration was to come out and proclaim something such as “Educators are required to use technology and social media to promote social justice by publishing 10 Tweets per week” we would likely see many different, (and possibility still a variety) of responses.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Additional issues arise when you consider some educators that may not be as well-versed in technology, social media, or digital citizenship as their colleagues. How would we address this?

Additionally, would this requirement ‘water down,’ strong conversations on social justice with posts from teachers that may not feel (or write) strongly about the topics? Or even if the posts and tweets are not all of high quality, would this further conversations in a positive manner anyway?

Personally, I find it may come down to becoming more specific. Do I believe that teachers have a moral responsibility to be staunch supporters of social justice online and in person? I absolutely do.

Do I believe that all teachers should be required to discuss social justice online and in person? That, I’m not convinced of yet.

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