Social justice can be more clearly understood by first understanding its three components: 1) the recognition of the needs and rights of the individual student; 2) the understanding that social justice requires change and activism; and 3) that this type of advocacy is “intentional, deliberate, and conscious.” (Crow, Matthews. 2010.) It’s by clarifying these components that we also have to recognize social justice as the foundational thrust for advocacy.
The recognition of the needs and rights of the individual student accomplishes a lot more than simply benefiting the singular child. It also improves the education of all students by protecting each of them from forces that would block access to information and educational possibilities. It doesn’t matter what characteristics or beliefs a student has. There will be an opposing power from which he must be shielded.
The understanding that social justice requires change and activism means that we, as educators, can’t stop at just recognizing the needs and rights of the individual student. If it were that easy we could all make grand statements, give ourselves a collective pat on the back, and celebrate our benevolent spirits with a latte. We have to go past what makes us feel good and push ahead to make sure that he has full access in the most edifying and nurturing atmosphere possible. This demands that we create an environment filled with care, driven by justice, and positive criticism. Yes. It requires some action, dare I say hard work, on our parts. We may run in to some opposition, but if we refuse to meet the challenge, we will knowingly deprive children of the power of knowledge and their personal ability to revolutionize their world.
“Intentional, deliberate, and conscious” (Crow, Matthews. 2010.) advocacy requires us, as teachers and administrators, to commit to becoming life-long learners in search of fresh understanding and innovative methods. This commitment will keep us on the cutting-edge of the social justice movement. We have to continually assess every aspect of the school environment to assure that equity is functioning for all students and stakeholders. Additionally, we have to follow a vision and a mission that guides the ever-transforming landscape of the school house. In doing all of these things, social justice will be preserved, strengthened, and ultimately result in a more productively diverse society in which individual creativity and united collaboration will be allowed to flourish.
Crow, Gary M.; Matthews, L. Joseph. (2010). The principalship: new roles in a
professional learning community. Pearson Higher Education. Boston, Massachusetts.