Thursday, February 23, 2006

Social Justice in Education

The question raised in this article is a very good one. Should schools be responsible for implementing and teaching social justice or this the job of society? The author of the article seems to argue that schools are a good place to start. Since schools have such an influence on children and many students come from families/backgrounds where they are unlikely to get proper education on pertinent issues at home, school may just be the best place for social justice education.

This, however, raises another issue: the issue of the hidden curriculum. Are schools unfairly geared towards the white middle class? Research shows that students tend to follow the academic pattern of their parents. Are underpriveleged children being given less opportunities to excel in school and to continue on to the postsecondary level?

To be honest, I am not even sure how to respond to this article. It seems like such a complicated issue with so many sides. While I definitely feel that schools should be a fair and just place, I recognize that this is both difficult and complicated. If you take some of the views in this article too the extreme, you end up with a very communistic society. Can this work? Furthermore, the author highlights that there are two definitions to the word justice. 1) question of fairness in distribution for thich the normal criterion is equality and 2) getting what one deserves. These definitions lead to differing conclusions in the social justice debate. Again, I have a hard time taking a firm stand-point on the issue because it is so complex. I do, however, believe that it is our responsibility as teachers (and citizens of earth) to develop an opinion on such issues by becoming informed and by ensuring that we are doing all that we can to put this into practice in our classroom. (Therefore, I plan to contemplate this issue further to discover my personal standpoint.)


This author definitely makes an interesting point! It is interesting how she shows the two extreme point of view on the subject in question: teaching Shakespeare in the classroom. I would have never thought of half of the objections that came up and I couldn't help but wonder if this article was slightly far-fetched. It does however bring up an excellent issue. What happens when we try and please everyone?

It is impossible to please everyone and this article does an excellent job of demonstrating this. By giving the students/parents too much say in regards to the curriculum, a teacher's job becomes nearly impossible. The one girl in her class took Christianity too far and objected to any reference to anything REMOTELY controversial. I thought this was absolutely ridiculous. This is not the way most Christians think and in my opinion, education on controversial issues and not ignorance is the answer. As Dr. Runte would say, however, this is only my opinion and who am I to say that this value system is the right one? It is mind boggling when you really think about the job we are preparing to undertake. If we set out trying to please everyone, we will doubtlessly fail miserably. Each individual must find their balance and possibly try and steer clear of any extremely controversial issues. Many parents are happy as long as they are informed. If teachers work on keeping the communication open, I think that parents are less likely to get upset.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Guest Speaker: Native History and Residential Schools

Wow! Although I had heard of residential schools before and it upset me at that time, I was really moved by the guest speaker and the video that we watched in class. For me, it really put things into perspective. Residential schools are not only a thing of the past, they have had devastating effects on the present. Many people will admit that residential schools were unjust but they do not see the link between them and the problems that native peoples are facing in the present.

Often we get defensive when we feel that we are being blamed for something that has happened. I too, used to get defensive when I was being labelled as the perpetrator for acts that my ancestors may have committed. The blame game also gets kind of confusing when you have ancestors of both peoples in your blood. I've realized lately that what it really boils down to is that somewhere inside of us, we are all capable of oppressing others and continue to contribute to the cycle of racism in our thoughts, actions and even our words. We need to stop being so defensive and stop passing the blame and simply ask what we can do now as living breathing individuals in our day and age to stop this vicious cycle.

The movie was definitely an eye-opener and highlighted only some of the horrific events that occured in residential schools. The one thing, I feel, that the movie did not emphasize enough, was the fact that all of society was responsible for what was happening and not only the catholic church. All too often, what happens with awful events like this one is that people try and find someone to blame in order to ease their own conscience. The church was not the sole perpetrator. In fact, many churches have begun holding APR hearings in order to allow native peoples to tell their stories and to receive the apology that they so desperately need to hear. They need to be validated and respected in order to put the past behind them and look forward to the future.