A Teaching For Social Justice

It is not the only job of teachers to teach their children their ABC's, math, history and proper English grammar. School is where children come to learn about social interaction and what it means to be a citizen in our society. One of the growing movements in the world of education is teaching for social justice to help our children grow up into good citizens who respect others.
In order to understand teaching for social justice we must first understand what social justice is ourselves. We see social injustice every day of our lives, yet many of us do not really understand what social justice really is. It is the idea of a world where all people are truly equal with the same sort of human rights, opportunities, responsibilities and social benefits. Social justice can only truly exist when equality is established and inequality abolished.

We are, every last one of us, part of a society that is much larger than ourselves. It is important to teach children to be individuals, it is also important to teach children that they are part of a society which is greater than they. Teaching for social justice means teaching our children that everyone is equal, and that they should treat each other that way.

There are many opportunities for teaching for social justice in the classroom. One obvious subject where you can raise issues about social justice is in history and social studies. There are so many examples of great social injustice in history that these can be used as excellent topics for discussion, contrasting them with the goals and concepts of social justice. Even topics which might seem humdrum such as geography can be used to introduce social justice concepts, as you discuss not only other countries and where they are located on a map but also the sort of people that live there and justice or injustice might exist in these countries.

English is another excellent course for discussing these topics. As you go through some of the great literature that has been produced in the world over thousands of years you can use these as sounding boards for discussions about social justice. Literature is a medium that allows us to express everything that it is to be human and thus it is a natural outlet to use in teaching for social justice.

Many organizations exist that support the goals of teaching for social justice and have many different tools that can be used in this process. One such tool is the Circle of Oppression, which is a very handy visual aid to get students to really think about just what social injustice is and how even they themselves partake in the continuing cycle of oppression that has been in existence since the dawn of time.

Some services will even have entire curricula available for the teacher so they can construct their entire course around these concepts. Social justice is one of the greatest issues facing the next generation and children need to be taught social justice when they are young so that it will become ingrained in their hearts. If we can teach our children the goals of social justice it is possible, just possible, that the future ahead of us will truly be a better one, free of inequality and prejudice and racism and discrimination and war.

While the concepts of social justice have Christian (specifically Catholic) origins, it does not mean that it is an issue only facing Christians. We have to, all of us, partake in these ideas of social justice if we are to ever hope that our world will one day be a truly just place.
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