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While young people are fairly adept at recognizing overt bullying in the form of assault, name-calling and online harassment, they might not be aware of the other ways that bullying can manifest.
Students should be taught about the harm done by smaller behaviors that are often normalized as a part of the adolescent experience.
In order to foster classroom social justice, teachers must first build a safe, encouraging place where students can speak about their experiences and beliefs.
The first way to promote social justice in the classroom is to create a community of conscience.
As students explore issues like the Trayvon Martin case or witness racism in their own lives, they need to be able to bring up these issues in class discussions.
They also need to be able to recognize ways racism masquerades as normal treatment and question this treatment.
Social justice doesn’t manifest in a singular fashion, nor is it achieved through a specific means of instruction.
Students studying this field use critical examination of themselves, others, institutions and events to find patterns of inequality, bigotry or discrimination, then explore possible solutions to the problems they’ve identified.
Examples include groups of girls who exclude or mistreat one member, boys who prove their masculinity by dominating and controlling others, or anyone who bullies a peer due to their declared or perceived gender or sexuality.
New information that includes multiple perspectives will better resonate with students’ previous knowledge.
Teachers must also be aware of the messages sent by the learning materials they use.
To determine if texts are privileging certain narratives, teachers need to analyze whether they recount an event — the Civil War, for example — from multiple points of view or favor the dominant culture.
When choosing class materials, teachers should employ books, articles and lesson plans that include diverse voices and cultures.