Blog #3 (Debate #2) – Be the Change! In Search of Social Justice

          Hello EC&I 830 colleagues! Today I will unpack debate number four on the topic: educators having a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice. Another topic that had me reflecting on my beliefs and how I encourage social justice in my grade 7/8 classroom. Based on how the debate topic was presented, I felt conflicted about which side I supported more. On the one hand, I believe the educators hold a responsibility to educate students on social justice issues and avenues to act on change. On the other hand, I believe that technology is only one avenue for educators to access when delivering on their social justice responsibility to students. Technology is evolving, and educating students on their digital footprint is essential to appropriate and proper digital citizenship. I was also conflicted about the topic of censorship that was brought up through the discussion by both groups. Questions like, who has our ‘back’ when we speak freely? How do we encourage students to speak up and speak out when we, as educators, feel we can’t truly speak freely? How is this modeled? brought up valid points for further reflection.

Student access to technology is increasing, and the need for 21st Century Learning opportunities is that much more important to be included in our practice as educators. Torrey Trust’s (2015) blog explains, “social media is an incredibly powerful tool that can transform learning in many ways. Students use it on a daily basis to share resources and engage in conversations with their peers.” We cannot deny that technology is evolving and the need to be educated is becoming a fundamental necessity in today’s classrooms. For many social justice activists, social media is a platform to reach a larger community for support and change. Educating our students about the positive and negative consequences is crucial. I demonstrate positive digital citizenship and social media usage through our classroom Twitter account. I feel this is a powerful tool for students to network and to learn from others outside the walls of our school. Although I use social media with and for my students, I ensure my personal social media is private and separate. I always keep in mind that, whether I agree or not, I reflect that I must be aware of the teacher hat that I wear first and foremost. Belle Liang, Meghan Commins, and Nicole Duffy, share the following finds when engaging students in social media: involve youth directly in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the prevention message, seek ongoing feedback from the digital natives to maintain relevance, and plan ahead for future accessibility and sustainability. Furthermore, Torrey Trust shares, “Educators should act as role models, guides, and leaders. If we don’t teach our students about the benefits and consequences of using social media, who will?”

Our team who represented the disagree side of things had some great points to counter. Lawrence E. Metcalf (1952), explains the role and responsibility of educators when thinking about expressing themselves and sharing their personal thoughts. Metcalf shares, “teacher neutrality has been defined in such a way as to place upon the teacher the responsibility of being restrained in his expression of personal opinion. Political activity, on the other hand, calls for some degree of public expression. Consequently, it is argued that teachers ought not to engage in political activity, since their students would soon learn where they stand.” This is such a slippery slope! How do we model and promote speaking up and out, when we are censored or feel censored ourselves. I guess it comes down to common sense and how we want to present ourselves. The point of not molding or shaping students’ opinions is an important point to consider. Leading and teaching with an open mind and inviting students to form their own opinions and thoughts is key! Judgment free!! Technology is definitely one avenue to promote change, but it is certainly not the only one. Providing students with multiple avenues is another way we can serve our students.

Both topics were presented with passion and provided great opportunities to reflect! Well done!! Whichever side you may align with, we need to lead with grace and with our student’s best interests in mind.

8 thoughts on “Blog #3 (Debate #2) – Be the Change! In Search of Social Justice

  1. Great summary post Arkin. I really connected with your comment on wearing many hats, including the “teacher hat”. Being a teacher – a public servant – is tough. You have so many roles to play! All of which are hard to shake, even outside of school. You posed a really good question about how do we model and promote speaking up and out when we are censored… I guess we must find ways to appropriately critique and be critical – thinking outside of the box. I do agree with your final statement, that technology is an example of one way that educators can promote social justice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Nicole! Thanks for your comments. As an educator, I always feel like someone is always watching and critiquing. Is it right? Probably not, but it is something educators must be aware of, even if we don’t agree. I absolutely agree with you, it is tough!!

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  2. Great Post, Akrin! It sounds like you are doing an awesome job teaching this to your students! One of the lines in the video you posted resonated with me and reminded me of what a student once said to me: “Why would anyone care what I am posting?” It is so important to demonstrate positive digital citizenship when using social media, and to know at a young age that whatever you post is there forever. Great post, and I loved the video.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Reid! Agreed. We need to teach students the consequences (both positive and negative) of our choices and our actions in the ‘digital world’. Students then must make the choice. I really enjoyed the video as it came from a student perspective. I kind of want to make one with my students to see their answers.

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  3. Hi Arkin!

    Great blog post and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts from a very exciting, yet somewhat controversial debate topic!

    I appreciate your comment about technology only being one source, one avenue, for our students to access to promote and make change when it comes to important social justice matters. As Dalton and Brooke described the term slacktivism, posting about social justice matters via social media is one thing, but then taking part in perhaps a rally or writing a letter to the cause is another. A question that I wrote down from the debate, in relation to your discussion here Arkin is as follows: To be an activist, do you necessarily need to use technology to post on social media or are there other means of connecting and making change?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Alyssa, thanks for your comment! To answer your question, I’m not sure if we need technology to make a change. It certainly is an option and has power, but it is not the only way to evoke and start change. I believe in small steps making big ripples. The most powerful piece to change is to start somewhere.

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  4. Okay Arkin, I really think you hit the nail on the head with this one. There were so many times that I thought to myself, wow, they make a really good point. Or hmm, what a great way to word it. So great job overall, for sure!

    I too think that teachers wear a ton of hats. There are times when we should and can speak out about something, and then there are other times that we have to be more reserved for whatever reason. I also really liked your last point about having grace with people. Some people are in positions of privilege and power that allow them to speak out about certain issues, while others do not. We cannot assume that just because people are teachers that they should and can speak to whatever they see fit. We also need to consider that there are different aspects at play, and activism can and will look different for everyone.

    Such a great post. If you can’t tell, I really appreciate it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kelly, thanks for your comments!! We definitely need to know our audience, and recognize what we say affects others (positively and/or negatively). There are definitely different perspectives and experiences that we may recognize or sometimes (unintentionally) dismiss. We have to look ‘big picture’ and really reflect before speaking. Everyone deserves the right to speak up and form their own opinion, but at what cost? Has everything/everyone been considered?

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