How are K-12 Schools Around the World Tackling Social Injustice?

Social injustice from a worldwide perspective is the “denial or violation of economic, sociocultural, political, civil or human rights of specific populations or groups in a society based on the perception of their inferiority by those with more power and influence” (Levy, 2006). The emotions that come from social injustice are anger, horror, outrage, and resentment. These emotions then influence a form of action, like protests, petitions, and boycotts.

Throughout history, we have seen many groups of people revolt or fight back for what they thought was just in their countries. Notable events such as the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, Social Unrest in Nicaragua, and Apartheid in South Africa are great examples of social injustice movements.  Similarly, the groundwork for several of these movements started by gathering members within the community to participate in the cause. Community members almost always include churches, schools, and local businesses. If you think about it, these 3 entities are the backbones in the community that cater to social solutions.

In this day in time, social injustice can be defined the same way, but the approach might slightly be different. 

How are schools tackling social injustice

There are several schools worldwide that are tackling social injustice issues by engaging in Project Based Learning projects (PBL). PBL is an “instructional methodology that encourages students to apply knowledge and skills through an interactive and engaging experience” (O’Brien, 2018). Teachers find it more effective for their students to work on project-based learning projects to fully grasp the depths of social injustices in their societies. 

A teacher in Washington, D.C., says she incorporates music about social injustice into her PBLs. The music is often about political figures or sparks a conversation about community violence, death, and police brutality. All of these issues are happening commonly in the United States of America. These concepts in PBLs make the projects visible to the students. It is a perfect demonstration of social injustices that exist in the real world.

A teacher in China has encouraged his students to focus on PBLs related to historical, social activism. His students are focusing on social media campaigns. The campaigns are seen as a better form of activism for his student’s generation. A teacher in Colombia has formed partnerships with other educational institutions so students can get a better understanding of Colombia’s history to fully understand the country’s peace process.

Schools around the world are incorporating real-world problems into their curriculum. The projects are designed to make students think or brainstorm about solutions that combat social injustices. These Project Based Learning assignments are to help students understand how they can make a difference in the world.

Most of these teachers share the same goal, they want to teach their students how to be global citizens by contributing to the social problems caused by social injustices. The project-based learning assignments have focused on racism, socio-economic status, environmental rights/health, education, and human rights. The concept is effective because it focuses on real-world problems in real time, which makes it practical for students to understand.

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