I wrote this post when I was studying to become a teacher.
Last week was my final week of classes at OISE.
The final assignment for School and Society course was to create an artifact representing our commitment to social justice in the classroom.
To create my film artifact, I did some digging and found some stories. The facts I found upset some people. Others questioned them.
I embraced their emotions. Facts that are hidden and hard-hitting often stir them. Click to watch my social justice artifact here:
What is “social justice”?
When I began to create my artifact I first thought that the words “social justice” actually mean little to me– they’re too vague and abstract.
When I think of “social justice” I see things:
I see a smile.
I see a student reading a play in which he has the lead role.
I see myself handing a student a book with a character just like them, a character which I know will get them excited themselves…about living.
Social justice to me is actions teachers take in the classroom. It is not an anti-bullying poster. It is not memos. And it is definitely not an impassioned speech made in the staff room over tuna fish sandwiches.
Everyday in their classrooms, teachers have the opportunity to cure kids from the illnesses that are indecision, shame, and self-loathing. I mean, teachers can bandage those kids who are rejected– because of what they look like, how they feel, or what they do– and help those who hate going to school.
Class action is nursing school rejects back to life. That is social justice.
The flip-side of “class action”
There’s another side to “class action.”
In legalese, “class action” is a case in which a large group of people get together and try to sue some wrongdoer.
“Class action,” with this connotation, also made it the perfect title for my film artifact. When I researched the lot of the “school rejects” of today, I found they faced serious obstacles in school. These obstacles are not the kind easily brushed off the shoulder like dust…they are constantly carried on student shoulders…and they are heavy. There is anger, some of it justified, against our school system.
There is much to be done.
Let’s make the commitment to class action today.