Our fourth and final day of the debates was perhaps the most controversial one thus far. I say this because we dealt with some fairly debateable, yet touchy subjects. The first topic we discussed was focused on the idea that Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice and fight oppression. This was perhaps our most ‘touchy’ subject in my eyes, as we discussed how oppression affects our students and our reputation in general. The second debate was on the statement Cellphones should be banned in the classroom. This topic proved to be less controversial as we all generally had similar views on what cell phone use will look like in our classrooms. Through it all, I gained lots of informative views and perspectives I never really thought of before.
Our first debate on educators using social media to fight oppression was tough to say the least. The reason for this being tough is for the fact that “[l]earning about social justice at a young age prepares children to be informed, young adults” (College, 2021). Being educators, we are not only an influence for our students, but we are also influential to their guardians, other students, and our fellow educators. By showcasing our opinions and promoting what we believe in on social media, our voice is able to reach more and more people. This seemed to be a common theme in the debate for the ‘agree’ side of the statement. Myself, I tended to drift more towards the ‘disagree’ side of things, and my reasons why are pretty important. I do not like the fact that “[p]eople can hide behind profiles” (Conscience, 2020), therefore pretending to be someone they are not and seemingly spreading fake news. Considering online activity and social media presence is still fairly new to us, I think it is almost unsafe for us to rely on this for our views. Something that was discussed in the debate was the fact that social media has the ability to rapidly spread news about issues like Black Lives Matter, or Police Brutality. This is true, however as we are learning with covid-19, this can also come with a lot of fake news or even fear.
I am not a very active person on social media. Perhaps the most active I have ever been is through my Twitter. Sharing and interacting with fellow educators is very beneficial, however I feel that is all it is. I am not one to advocate for things on social media, purely because I do not see the need. If I want to advocate for something, I will be an activist, promoting to people I am close with, or use other means than social media. In addition, students do not have access, nor should they have access to our social media accounts. So, the question is why? If I feel the issue is something my students should know about, I will teach it to them through class. It is for this reason I do not believe it is a teachers’ ‘responsibility’ to advocate for social issues. Rather, I feel it is a choice. I am not opposed to other educators sharing, however I do not think it is a requirement.
Our second debate was, in my eyes, a little more balanced. The idea was if Cellphones should be banned in the classroom. This was broken into three categories, they should be totally banned, only banned from k-8, and not banned at all. My opinion went along with the majority of class. This was having cell phones banned from grades k-8. Reasons for this were boiled down to the maturity and responsibility of our students. In my classroom, I generally think cell phone use is a privilege. Students want respect too, so allowing them to have their phones as long as they are using them appropriately will show them you have a trust for them that will make them want to learn and be willing to learn in your classroom.
We had some great, insightful discussions throughout all these debates. They are among my favourite projects in university, as well as the most beneficial. I gained so many new perspectives not only on my topic, but many others as well. I believe the formality and structure we had were great for enhancing learning and allowing us to explore these educational topics in depth. I would like to thank everyone in EDTC 400 for their input and ideas, and a special thanks to Katia for organizing and teaching this class!
College, M. (2021). The Importance of Social Justice in the Classroom and Curriculum Design. Merrimack College.
Conscience, E. (2020). Pros and Cons of Online Activism. Environmental Conscience.
Dell’Angelo, T. (2014). Creating Classrooms for Social Justice. Edutopia.