This debate topic felt very personal to me as I reflect on how I use social media both as a personal consumer and as a professional as well. I have sort of selected which social media platforms are for my personal use, and which are for my professional use. I use Twitter, Discord and WordPress to share my professional thoughts and reflections and they are public for anyone to search. Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram are all set to private accounts and it is only used to communicate with my friends and family. Tiktok is one account that I actually let my students follow because it is an account created just for our Valley Ridge Retrievers account. During the height of Covid-19, I was enjoying creating Tiktoks with our dogs and the litters of puppies that we had.
When it comes to using social media as a medium for social justice, I believe that it is an extremely powerful tool for creating and spreading awareness quickly to a large audience. For example, movements such as Black Lives Matter spread like wildfire because of the impact social media has on our communities. When it comes to my personal participation in social justice on social media, I am starting to realize that I might fall under the category of “Slactivism” as Brook and Dalton mentioned in their presentation. I very often will “like” and “share” posts on Facebook and Instagram related to various issues such as women’s rights, Indigenous rights, gun violence, and pride just to name a few. However, I would not say that this act of liking and sharing on social media is considered “Social Media Activism” as an act on its own. Genuine social media activism goes beyond the hashtag.
How am I a social justice activist? I hope that the conversations and lessons that I have with my students are making an impact on them and our communities. We very often will have group discussions surrounding current events and dive into some of the systemic issues that we face in our society that lead to inequalities and mistreatment of others. If anything, the activism that I engage myself in on social media is often sparking my interest to initiate these conversations with my students and explore these issues in a learning environment where my students can feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences if they want to. Should educators express their political opinions in the classroom? “The majority of educators do feel that it is necessary to talk about the political happenings dominating the news coverage. Key issues such as race, gender equality and LGBTQ rights have been at the forefront of many student discussions outside of the classroom, which can lead to misinformation very quickly.” – Persaud, Education World Contributor.
To tie back to the initial debate topic statement, teachers should promote social justice on social media responsibly.
Now, I am sure Katia wrote this statement in this way for a certain reason because it can be interpreted in a few different ways. The first way that I can view this question is that if teachers are promoting social justice through a social media platform then yes, they should do so, responsibly. Teachers are often ridiculed for sharing their thoughts on certain issues online especially if they do not align with the beliefs of their school or the community that surrounds them. Teachers are often attacked because society believes that they should be neutral when it comes to political issues because parents don’t want educators to be pushing a specific agenda on their kids. In recent years I quickly became familiar with the term “Indoctrination” being used against teachers. However, staying neutral or silent is also a form of oppression all on its own. Ultimately, any institution that is government-funded is automatically political. In the spring 2021 semester, I took the course called “Politics of Education” and there is simply no escaping it. Dunn states in an article titled, “Is political neutrality in a classroom actually neutral?” and he concluded that, “education is inherently political. Choosing to maintain the status quo and further continue to marginalize certain groups.”
In comparison, one could read this statement as “Teachers should be required to promote social justice on social media, responsibly.” This is where alarm bells started going off in my head because my first thought was, that there are still so many working teachers that still have not decided to engage in social media for whatever reason it may be and don’t even have accounts that exist. The choice of whether or not to use social media is a personal one and I believe it should definitely stay that way within the workplace of teachers. I know that teachers are promoting social justice within their classrooms. They have been before social media existed and they will continue to do so even afterwards as well.
I applaud and support the educators that are courageous enough to use social media as a medium for social justice. Those that are comfortable standing up on a digital platform are helping to push boundaries and make real changes for the future of our students. Sometimes teachers shouldn’t be neutral. Most of the Politically charged rhetoric we hear is not an intellectual exercise. It’s not a theoretical debate. These are real-life incidents impacting actual humans on a regular basis. Unfortunately, some educators can feel caught in situations where they can’t always take the risks associated with certain activism due to not aligning with the values and beliefs of their employer or potentially risk tarnishing their reputation in a community which could result in losing their position.
4 thoughts on “Social Justice through Social Media? For Teachers?”
Thank you for your thoughtful blog response to the debate. I also thank you for pointing out the difference between social justice and politically charged rhetoric. I address this in my blog as well – they are certainly not the same thing. I enjoyed reading about the ways you explore and participate in social justice.I think that it is important for teachers to share their ideas in this way so that we can build up our own personal repertoire.
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Excellent post. I discussed feeling like I was more of a slacktivist as well. We discuss social justice in my class (albeit limited to culturally appropriate topics) however in my home life I probably am not doing enough. I support causes with donations, likes and the odd comment on social media. There is always more I could do.
I have also occasionally been ridiculed online or face to face, for my opinions. As you mentioned the term indoctrination is often used to by people who feel a more left leaning culture is replacing “traditional values.” In class I do my best to present both sides on an issue and provide students time to share and discuss their own thoughts.
I am obviously also one of the people who cannot present advocacy for all groups. I discussed my approach in my own blog, however any approach is not perfect and needs to be balanced with the needs of the class and the educator.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughtful post. I also agree that educators should promote social justice in the classroom. but 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.
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Great last paragraph. Sometimes we shouldn’t be neutral, but the harder part is, who is backing us? I often feel as if educators have unhealthy expectations placed upon them by all stakeholders. Community members want you to say or do one thing, the board office wants you to do another, and so on. There are so many tricky points and if people are placing another responsibility on our already full plates, then where is the support? Do we have a responsibility to teach social justice issues in our classrooms? For sure we do, and the curriculum supports that. But using social media should be a choice, not an obligation.
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