Social justice issues are definitely becoming moreevident in day to day life. As the current generation takes interest in thesemovements, they want to keep the changes coming. That is, they have implementedtheir critical thinking style into the education system in hopes that the fightfor justice will not die with them. Cynthia Reynolds argues in her article,”why are schools brainwashing our children?”, the complexities that areaccompanied by including social justice into the classroom. The education ofsocial justice starts as early as first grade, which brings up a lot ofcontroversial opinions about what is appropriate. Cynthia Reynolds’ discussionof social justice in the school system is extremely useful because it sheds lighton the difficult problem of implementing such a curriculum, which is why Ibelieve such an education should be reserved for elementary students in theirupper years.
Elementary schools have implemented social justiceinto many subjects, which has caused conflicts around what is an appropriateway to teach such controversial topics to the children. Making an educationsystem aimed at creating a student body of morally conscious individuals is thegoal. The biggest controversy here is deciding on who should be implementingthe education and when should it happen. Educators feel responsible for it butmany parents disagree, they believe it is their job. Teachers can use theirposition of authority to manipulate the children. Real world issues are causingpsychological damage to the students because of the fear being produced fromexposure at such a young age.
Parents are not the only ones who are havingdifficulties accessing where the lines lie for what is an appropriate methodfor students learning about social justice issues. Educators who have tried tocreate their own lesson plans to include the aforementioned but have not doneso successfully. The best route seems to be following a provided lesson plan.This does not necessarily help them prepare for emotional backfire fromstudents learning about hot topics.To begin, it must be discussed deciding theappropriate age to bring bigger social justice issues into a grade schoolclassroom. Reynolds is right in her argument that young people need to beinvolved with a moral education. Her quote from James Banks brings up howpeople who are bright and educated still fail to question orders from authorityfigures, as explained in the allusion to Nazi Germany. Through developing astudent body full of critical thinkers and moral sound, it is believed such anatrocity can be avoided in the future (Reynolds, 2012).
Pressing onto thereader that it is important “we have a duty to provide a moral, sociallyconscious education” (Reynolds, 2012). Since children not are considered matureenough to have developed opinions on their own, it would seem the solution isto implement this educational perspective into the high school curriculum. But,if teachers are interested in educating students about social justice issues atan earlier age, perhaps they should wait until the upper years of elementary school.
It would make more sense to educate someone on environmental issues once theyhave a better understanding of the world as it stands, rather than implementfear into what they barely know as is. By quoting a child psychologist,Reynolds supports my suggestion to wait until the upper years of elementaryschool before bringing in the social justice curriculum. Jeanne Williams tellsthe reader about how it is unwise and psychologically damaging to exposechildren to the harsh realities of the world.
She says the kids are beingtreated for anxiety- a mental health issue developed from what they have beentalking about in the classroom. It is detrimental to their cognitivedevelopment as well as their self-esteem making.It is interesting that Reynolds discusses how easyeven an educated member of society can be manipulated and then flips thatargument to suggest that a teacher could do the same to a child by conveyingtheir own political beliefs into the classroom, to which I have to agree.Knowing that teachers of elementary students are seen as an authority figureand there is a clear difference in power, it can be easy for miscommunication.A teacher may think their students are learning and agreeing with what is beingtaught, but are acquiesced the knowledge of those superior. Reynolds usesanother psychologist to back her point here. Robin Grille suggests it would behard to distinguish whether or not a child agrees with the teacher or is justmindlessly complying with the authority figure (Reynolds, 2012).
David Stocker,another contributor, suggests that it doesn’t matter if there is influence byeducators because “All material carries bias…” and emphasizes that however problematic,it should be accepted (Reynolds, 2012). Though he is correct in his quote, hisargument does not do well to support the concern of parents. An example fromthe article is the farming family and the PETA poster in the classroom(Reynolds, 2012). Animal rights, in my opinion, is a touchy subject for manyadults never mind a first grader who doesn’t quite understand the family businessor why others would disagree with their source of income.
Social justice in the classroom isrelatively new and many educators are trying to create their own lesson plans,which I have always believed is great. The difficulty here is finding a middleground that avoids traumatizing students and upsetting parents. Reynolds statesin her article, it is unnecessary for teachers to create their own socialjustice lesson plans because they have access to premade ones. Even theselessons plans are risky for teachers to use because it is hard to predict how astudent will take to a lesson (Reynolds, 2012). Rhonda Philpott contributes a strongpoint in the article. She discusses how the teacher must know their studentsand have established a sense of trust with them before being able to tacklesuch sensitive and sometimes shocking subject matter (Reynolds, 2012). It isdifficult for new teachers especially because they aren’t as experienced andmay have more difficulty reading their students (Reynolds, 2012). All studentscome from different backgrounds and it is of the utmost importance tounderstand that when bringing up controversial issues.
While they rarely admit as much, it seems that this isquite the experiment and often educators take for granted that they aren’tdealing with the aftermath of a social justice lesson plan gone wrong. Reynoldsstates in the article, teachers have suffered in their careers for the lessonsthey implemented, such as the educator who resigned after a family filedcomplaints about homework that involved math and number of slave beatings(Reynolds, 2012). A lesson plan gone wrong has students seeking psychological helpwhich can be severe and long-lasting. This needs to be taken into consideration while trying to implementsocial justice into the elementary curriculum. I would hope that educators aredoing so, and not just diving in as the article suggests newer teachers aredoing with their own lesson plans or the ones provided (Reynolds, 2012).The greatest benefit of social justice in education wouldgo to older students in their upper years of elementary school. While it is truethat a young morally conscious individual will be better off as an adult, it doesnot take into consideration the many complexities that follow exposure to harshrealities to early in life. I do agree with Reynolds to a point but I argue thesocial justice curriculum should be held off from primary grades.