Risk your privilege and raise your voice!

In our last ECI 831 class we spent time considering whether online social activism can be meaningful and worthwhile and whether educators have a responsibility to model active digital citizenship.

Photo Credit: Elijah van der Glessen

Examples of effective online social activism include campaigns like #blacklivesmatter and #idlenomore. I believe these social movements have been effective because they began as regional awareness campaigns that grew to become both national and international in reach and demanded the attention of millions of people and decision-makers worldwide.

These movements prompted people to act locally and provided ways for multiple localities to take action. They weren’t click-happy campaigns that hoped would raise awareness and through that awareness change the world.

I agree with a comment made by Colleen in her recent blog post. She says, “I think that instead of or in addition to hashtagging we need to make an effort to see how we can actively make a difference. This may be in the form of making a donation, but I also think we need to GO LOCAL and reach out to others in our           Photo Credit: Wikipedia                         community who are are working to make a difference to make positive changes in  our community.”

I think one of the most important aspects of activism, social media or otherwise, is the involvement and establishment of relationships with the community you wish to be part of the people you hope to advocate for/alongside. This idea is supported by a couple articles that I reviewed.

In The Case for Social Media and Hashtag Activism, social media activism is described as being “useless if it doesn’t create awareness that leads to action off the internet.” And, in How Effective is Social Media Activism, they discuss “[t]he only way to make a democracy work is to get off social media and do things in the real world.” Social media activism must have local actions associated with the online engagement.

What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?

In the article, Ethics in Online Activism: False Senses of Social Action or Effective Source of Change, by Rimah Jaber describes an ethical position on social media activism. They suggest that, “Online activism and social media campaigns ought to have serving the common good at the forefront of movements. Provoking change of a social issue should be done within reason and without personal or private gains. The focus of online activism should be moral and ethical, operating under systems of social action that are pure and noble.”

As justice oriented citizens, who exist within and outside of schools, have a responsibility to use our platforms and voices to bring attention to social injustices and work towards equality. This work is important and is actually part of our curriculum. Educators need to address their fears by pushing the boundaries and taking some risks in speaking out in their classrooms, communities, schools, and divisions to make space for positive social change.

If educators taught their students with a pedagogy of critical (digital) literacy and critical empathy they might find a new found confidence to speak to social justice issues with more authority. They might also find opportunities and rationale to do so with the support of the four goals of K-12 Social Studies and Social Sciences education of the Saskatchewan curriculum. Here, I believe educators can have a voice and take a position in their classrooms and online. Life your values – it is who you are!

I would like to challenge my ECI 831 classmates, and anyone else who is interested to risk your privilege by:

  • choosing an issue they care about;
  • finding a campaign that deals with the issue and engages the public through social media;
  • using your voice to tweet something (#eci831 @SalloumSteffany), anything, in solidarity with the people/issue;
  • writing a comment to me about what it was like for you and consider sharing your experience with your classroom or administrator.

Thanks for reading!

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6 thoughts on “Risk your privilege and raise your voice!

  1. This is an awesome post! Very thought provoking. I am currently working through how hard it is for our kids, and the expectations on them as well. Specifically when the issues are local, and in smaller, rural areas. I feel I have for lack of a better word, pretty broad shoulders, but it’s still difficult as an adult with all the pushback. It’s a struggle for the kids who are leaders in the buildings as well to stick up for friends and their own views. We want active citizens, but I recognize also the stress of speaking up.

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  2. This was an awesome post! Thank you so much bringing to light the importance of being social advocates for people who can’t necessarily do so for themselves. You said, “This work is important and is actually part of our curriculum. Educators need to address their fears by pushing the boundaries and taking some risks in speaking out in their classrooms, communities, schools, and divisions to make space for positive social change.” in your post and it really resonates with me. Being a social activist and conscious of social issues is absolutely part of the curriculum and we do have an obligation to speak up and teach our students the importance of staying aware and active. The ironic thing is that we are encouraged to teach the curriculum but then scolded and reprimanded when we actually speak out and take a stand for what we believe in because that’s too much, or not what the division believes. The line is so incredibly thin. I found myself in an interesting conversation with two parents last year about the gender neutral washrooms in the new schools – I wanted to lose my mind over their ignorance and misinformed opinion on the concept but honestly feared the repercussions of them taking the conversation to our admin. I run a very liberal minded classroom and my students, past and present, know that my room is a safe space for all but I agree with the comment above, the stress is unreal and only getting worse – the expectations to be the “stepford wife” of a teacher is true. 😦

    I am going to accept your “tweet challenge” and will be sending a message your way soon! Thanks for asking us all to reassess and challenge the privilege we have for good.

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    1. Hey Danielle, thanks for sharing. I appreciate your response and for taking the challenge! I understand where you are coming from dealing with ignorance on a daily basis and not having the support to speak out against it. With the gender-neutral washrooms it sounds like a school-sanctioned change and if that is the case you should have all the tools necessary to direct the parent to the administration who already support the washrooms.

      If you need any advice or support in dealing with issues like this in the future I would be happy to lend an ear or hand if needed. In solidarity!

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  3. Hey Stef! Great post. I agree with you. Reaching out and taking action is key. I believe social media is the perfect place to rally the troops and spread the word of local events but it is crucial for people to show up and make their “likes” and “hashtags” count for something.

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