The G.E.T. Debate Round 7 – Social Justice and Social Media in the Classroom – It’s Complicated

The Debate

Another timely and important debate.

The Pre-Vote

50/50 right down the middle at the start. Based on views and thoughts shared through out the class this split did not surprise me. People are really weighing the pros and cons with each topic.

The Thoughts

It was another timely and thoughtful debate. Both teams did incredible jobs with the research, presentations, and delivery (Thanks Mike, Jacquie, Brad,and Michala). One thing that has struck me about the debates and it’s that one word usually sticks out to me and this time was ‘promote’. Are you promoting a social justice cause or promoting the importance of social justice or promoting that kids have to be involved in social justice? Mike and Jacquie did a great job of laying out that teaching is a political act and that social justice is part of the art of teaching (Social Justice Belongs in Our Schools). One of the goals of education is to ensure that the world continues to be a better place for all (although this could be challenge by the great points Melinda and Altan made (also personal for me as that’s one of the reasons my dad came to Canada from former Yugoslavia)). So if we are not using all of the tools at our disposal to help move the world forward are we doing our jobs as educators. But there is another side of the story and Brad and Michala did a great job of pointing out the ‘risks’ especially with social media … are you ‘recruiting’ foot soldiers for your cause, making assumptions on social media that you wouldn’t make face to face, or listening to ‘trolls’ out there posting information they know nothing about? (Social Justice Lens Checklist) Using technology and social media does magnify these challenges as the audience is bigger, far reaching, and in some cases brings out the ‘trolls’. Then there is the issue of ‘slackivism’ (great read on Slacktivism, Social Justice, and Social Media here). In this article, there is a meme that basically says a thumbs up on social media is not an action. So if this is happening are we really promoting social justice of any kind. Sometimes I find (and I know it’s part of the debate and many issues timely – so I’m not questioning these important points or saying it not cool to go there) that we go to the ‘extreme’ examples and stay there in many of the debates. An example we used in our openness / sharing debate was the Kindness Ninja. These are important social justice movements too. It is important to tackle the ‘big’ social justice movements, but sometimes we just need to step back and tackle a smaller, more local, and/or less charged issue as well. I feel a great debate produces more questions than answers and this one was definitely a great one for me.

The Research

I enjoyed reading Katia’s article Journal Homepage: Nurturing #TeacherVoice: Why Educators’ Online Presence Matters to Educational Equity. One of the quotes that stood out to me was, ‘Technology can also give provide a greater platform for causes that might otherwise go overlooked in the mainstream media’ (p.34). I feel this way about many of the issues we have examined. It is a challenge but social media provides more voices. It can be daunting, but many times things went unnoticed because mainstream media was limiting both intentionally and unintentionally. I feel that a lot of things seem ‘worse’, but I feel there are just more voices that have a platform to be heard. I think our debates have been important a “community of discomfort” (p. 36) which is a good thing. In a short time (because of the people and leadership in this class), we have struggled forward on a great many topics. I know by reading many class mates blogs and seeing a few flipgrids that this has been a great take away of this class One of the last points in the article was, ‘Being an educator in a digital age necessitates our thoughtful participation in digital life; we can no longer cling to “safe” topics of conversation, and we can no longer allow our silence to speak in our stead.’ (p. 37) I know I have grown a lot in this area and still have a long ways to go. But I know this class and this debate has moved me along in this journey. As I said in my title, it’s complicated but I’d also add worth it.

A Resource

Found this as I researched and learned more about our topic. It is made for elementary but could use easily in high school. I think it would be a great resource for those who are on their social media in the classroom journey.

The Results

The results made sense to me, as I felt even the disagree side recognized the need to promote social justice in the class but still influenced enough people to question whether tech and social media need to be a part of this.

2 thoughts on “The G.E.T. Debate Round 7 – Social Justice and Social Media in the Classroom – It’s Complicated

  1. Thanks for the great read! I agree with you that sometimes with social media there is a much bigger audience you are speaking to. I liked the point you made “I feel a lot more things seem worse, but just more voices have a platform to be heard”. To me this could not be more accurate. I find that mainstream media often focuses on the negative or we are really only getting one side of the story. However, this topic has helped me to reflect on the fact that social media has allowed for all sides of a story to be heard, even though at times this can be overwhelming to read through. Without, social media many of these voices would remain silent.


    1. Thanks. Yeah I agree it can be a bit overwhelming. But I feel that if we can address this in school both teachers and students will get better at harnessing and dissecting info and it won’t become as daunting.


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