Debate #4: Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice. 

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Social justice is defined as equal rights, equal treatment and equitable opportunities for all. Are educators responsible to use technology and social media to promote social justice? I have always struggled with this in the classroom, also brought to our awareness is pushing our own beliefs on students. I believe it is important to educate students about social justice issues and how to enact/promote change through various avenues positively. I taught in a small town last year and their were very different beliefs and opinions when I was teaching History 30, mostly around First Nations history in Canada. During that time there was light shed on the injustices of the residential schools, as hundreds of Indigenous children’s unmarked graves were discovered. I pulled up a news article on the SMART Board stating the facts of this horrific news. I was met with controversy and negative comments. That being said, I take the steps to promote social justice issues, although it is a slippery slope based on where you are located and where you are teaching. I also believe that if I pushed some of the social justice issues I would have been faced with parent complaints (especially in that area), therefore I protected myself while scraping the surface of the issues at hand.

Agree Side Perspectives

  • Teaching and education are not neutral
  • Social justice addresses human rights issues – if we do not promote these issues are we just simply bystanders agreeing with the injustices
  • Teaches students to become critical thinkers and change makers – two sides of the coin
  • Social media and technology are a large part of students’ lives
  • Social media connects us with others around the world
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There was a split during polls of the debate between the agree and disagree side for promoting social justice in the classroom through the use of technology and social media. Promoting social justice through social media platforms is a slippery slope, in which one should tread cautiously. I was on the disagree side through out the debate, however mostly because I believe there are better platforms than social media to promote social justice. Throughout the debate the agree side did a compelling job raising important points as to why social justice should be promoted by educators, as they argued that teaching is not neutral, and teaching children to use their voice is essential for critical thinking.

“They [middle school students] also struggle with not knowing exactly where they stand on issues and not having the language to articulate their thoughts on these matters.

Using Social Justice to Promote Student Voice by: Lorena Germán

Furthermore, promoting social justice through various platforms gives students tools to speak out when they see oppression, racism, hate crimes, privilege/white privilege, discrimination etc. If classrooms are not open and inviting to these conversations to be had we, as educators, lose the opportunity to educate about social justice issues.

I am all for promoting social justice, as these important conversations need to be had to promote and awaken unequitable issues in our world. As educators we should be fearful about the intolerance that may occur if we do not educate on social justice issues. Some of these examples that were addressed in the debate were Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Black Lives Matter.

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The article Using Social Justice to Promote Student Voice is a testimony on how students were unaware of how to use their voices and articulate their thoughts in matter of social justice issues. The author testifies on how she promoted social justice issues (issues that her students were passionate about) to teach students how to use their voice, be aware of social justice issues as well as inequalities in society. Germán voices, “they had to address ways that race, gender, or other social identities were related to their issue and impacted the experience of the people involved in the issue,” shedding light on inequalities.

Disagree Side Perspectives

  • CAUTION: teachers walking a fine line between professional and private/personal lives
  • Teachers pushing their own agenda on their students
  • There are other platforms, possibly more effective ways, as opposed to social media to promote change in social justice issues
  • It is not the teachers responsibility to promote social justice issues using social media or technology, but rather for teachers to protect themselves if they uncomfortable in doing so
  • Educators teach values of differences (race, culture, socioeconomic etc.) in classrooms to make them safer spaces

The disagree side had a very compelling argument, a great opening video and realistic viewpoints on the topic. As previously stated, I voted disagree in both of the votes, although I just want to clear the air in saying I do not believe we should shy away from educating students about social justice issues that could make a less intolerant society.

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Previously, when teaching History 30 I combatted various racist and distasteful comments in the classroom. When educating I always try to throw shade at the other side to be sure both sides of the coin are being represented well. I do not believe I push my opinion, although I am sure some of my own beliefs trickle down the pipes, in spite of me trying very hard to allow children to form their own viewpoints. I caution you about teaching in a rural area as it is imperative to understand the community before you dive into a swimming pool full of rocks.

Do you ever worry about professional repercussions when voicing your opinion on social justice issues through social media? There is a standard for educators to lead by example, and I refuse to get into a keyboard war with some stranger over a difference of opinion, regardless I rarely post anything on social media. Teaching values of difference in classrooms to make them safer spaces seems to be more impactful and promote awareness of these accepted differences.

“Many teachers do shy away from sharing political opinions on Twitter or Facebook for a range of reasons: They want to preserve their objectivity in front of their students.”

Teachers, Politics, and Social Media: A Volatile Mix – Madeline Will

Madeline Will portrays the side of educators not wanting to put their private over their professional, and as stated in the debate a lot of educators do not want to lose their jobs/income over getting into hot water over voicing a stance on social media (right or wrong).

Verdict Is In!

So where do I stand at the end of the debate. I still am on the disagree side as I do not believe it is the teachers contractual job to educate social justice issues if the educator feels uncomfortable, depending on demographics in the community, or even just plain protecting themselves for job security. However, I will continue to push these social justice issues within our society, and slowly pick away at promoting positive activism and addressing the inequalities that exist in our society.

4 thoughts on “Debate #4: Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice. 

  1. Hi Britney! Your blog post speaks to me as I have a very similar viewpoint. I have no personally taught in a small-town community, but I can only imagine the barriers that might need to be broken down compared to teaching in an urban setting. However, just by starting to do this work you are already making a difference! It can definitely be a slippery slope like you mentioned, and sometimes we do need to tread carefully for the sake of our professional reputation and careers. Social media can be one avenue of social activism, but I don’t think it works solely on its own.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Britney!!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughtful post I really enjoy it. I totally agree you with your viewpoint that its not really educators responsibility to promote social justice through social media. I believe that freely discussing personal opinions on social media make people more susceptible, particularly if those views contradict the ideology promoted by their schools. Having multicultural schools with various religions and beliefs, schools need to respect the families’ cultural backgrounds. Teachers should encouraged to let students make informed decisions for themselves about social justice otherwise, “rather than think, many students will merely agree with the teacher. Teaching kids that there are multiple points of view and different points of view will aid in the development of critical thinkers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really appreciated your summary. I too am on the disagree side, not because I believe that teachers shouldn’t be addressing social justice issues, or because I disagree with the curriculums, but because I don’t think that anyone should be forced to use social media personally or professionally. Teaching kiddos multiple perspectives is key, and when we force teachers to only use one medium to teach or advocate for what they believe in, then we are taking away the authenticity and sustainability piece away.


  4. Britney,
    It was hard presenting on the agree side of this debate. I 100% agree that as teachers we are on a slippery slope and have constant eyes watching us. I am still unsure if social media is the right avenue but feel it is important to have these hard discussions with our students. I think it is ok to share your beliefs but I always tell my students they can can their own views on the social justice issues we see prominently on social media. I always have the fear however that I will be called out by a parent assuming that I am pushing my beliefs on them, but I guess it is something I will have to face if it approaches. I have never worked in a small town but I imagine the hurdles that you can be faced with.

    Liked by 1 person

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