Social Justice (Midterm)

Social Justice (Midterm) - SOCIAL JUSTICE 1 Social Justice...

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SOCIAL JUSTICE Social Justice Education Terrance McKnight Teachers College – Columbia University 1
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SOCIAL JUSTICE My family moved from the inner-cities to a neighboring suburban area when I was 7. I spent the rest of my K-12 career in the school district of that suburban area. It had a roughly 85% White population, all middle or upper-middle class. However, most of the African- Americans (the vast majority of the remaining population) were lower-middle class, and were able to move to the area using government assistance; my mother was motivated to move because the schools were “better” and she did not want me attending her inner-city school district schools. I always hated school. I never quite knew why, but I am beginning to realize now – I was never exposed to social justice teaching. I grew up in an educational environment that is rarely discussed – a racial minority in a majority-White school. Most educational commentary (including the bulk of our readings in class) compare inner-city African-Americans to middle- class Whites. However, what is there to say of the African-Americans (or other racial minorities) who attend school in middle-class communities? Are these students supposed to underachieve because they are African-American, or overachieve because they are middle-class? For myself, I must say that it was the latter. I would be considered a poster child for why standards can work for everyone. But I was not a “good” student because I received superior instruction; particularly when looking from through a multicultural education lens. My schools were rooted in the traditional philosophies of essentialism and perennialism; the former for standard courses, the latter for honors courses. I was solely motivated by fear of retribution at home; getting good grades was not an option at all. Social justice is defined by Nieto (2010) as a philosophy, an approach and actions that embody treating all people with fairness, respect, dignity, and generosity. My educational upbringing lacked the fairness aspect of social justice; it was this deficiency that was the 2
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SOCIAL JUSTICE foundation of my disdain for school. Three principles of social justice as defined by Sabatini (2006) were neglected. First, individual differences were not valued; in hindsight, I realize that the teachers, like the students, lumped students together by after-school activities. Because I was in the “jock” group, I was expected to run fast, but not think much, a classic example of deficit thinking. Despite doing both fairly well, never did any educator talk to me about attending college for academics; only my athletic coaches discussed higher education, but only in the context of playing football. Second, diversity according to nationality, language, culture, race, gender, religion,
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This note was uploaded on 06/01/2011 for the course ORL 1000 taught by Professor Buontempo during the Spring '11 term at Columbia.

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Social Justice (Midterm) - SOCIAL JUSTICE 1 Social Justice...

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