PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Social Justice Standards | Understanding Justice


Essential Questions
  • What is justice?
  • How do stereotypes affect us?
  • How does systemic discrimination influence our world?
  • How does privilege influence justice? 
Objective

Learners will:

  • Understand the difference between personal stereotypes and systemic discrimination.
  • Explore how privilege impacts discrimination and justice.
  • Identify ways using texts can help address the Justice anchor standards.

This is the third in a series of self-paced presentations for individuals, easily modified for a group.

 

You need:

  • ability to access audio and video on your device;
  • pen and paper;
  • and about one hour.

    Learn

    What is justice?

    • The maintenance or administration of what is just, especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments
    • The administration of law, especially the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity
    • The quality of being just, impartial or fair
    • The principle or ideal of just dealing or right action


    To fully understand justice, we need to include these words in the discussion: 

    Bias

    Stereotype

    Prejudice

    Discrimination

    Privilege

    Think about your understanding of bias, stereotype, prejudice, discrimination and privilege. These concepts work in collaboration with justice. Can we have a just world where prejudice and discrimination exist? What part does justice play? Record your thoughts.

     Working in a cohort? Share your writing with a partner.

    Let’s explore our thoughts. Download and print the handout.

    For each word in the table, enter your first three reactions. Spend 15-20 seconds per word, and then continue. You will have time to process your reactions at the end of the activity. 

    Review your reactions. Are there any that take you by surprise, any that you are proud of and any that you would be embarrassed to admit?

    Go Deeper:

    Choose a word from this activity that made you react in a way that surprised you.

    From where do you think these reactions are based? Challenge yourself to confront the origin of these first thoughts. Record your thoughts.

    Reflect:

    This activity reminds us that we all have first thoughts about specific groups of people and, at times, specific individuals. We are not always sensitive to those thoughts. However, we must be aware of them to ensure that they do not control second thoughts or third thoughts. 

     Working in a cohort? Share your reflection thoughts with the group.

    Learn:

    Dr. Jackie Jordan Irvine helps us begin to understand why stereotypes can be helpful and harmful and how to help students come to terms with stereotypes. 

    Deconstructing stereotypes is crucial to development. Additionally, it requires the use of critical thinking skills to determine where prejudices come from and how these ideas can be reframed to be more open and accepting. 

    Name three things Irvine recommends teachers do to guard against stereotypes.

    Go Deeper:

    Bias, stereotype, prejudice, discrimination and privilege affect us on a personal level, but what happens when those same issues begin affecting the bigger picture? What happens when discrimination, prejudices and stereotypes become systemic?

    Systemic discrimination includes patterns of behavior, policies or practices that are part of the structures of an organization and create or perpetuate disadvantage.

    Some examples of systemic discrimination include:

    • Women’s prevention from voting.
    • Unequal access to education.
    • Jim Crow laws. 
    • LGBT people being denied the opportunity to legally marry and receive the benefits of marriage.

    Teaching Tolerance’s Social Justice Standard JU.15 states: Students will identify key figures and groups, seminal events and a variety of strategies and philosophies relevant to the history of social justice action around the world. 

    Let’s explore our existing knowledge of seminal events relevant to the history of social justice action.

    Apply:

    Connect the example of systemic discrimination to the movement that evoked its change.

    Learn:

    In addition to looking at systemic discrimination, we cannot discuss justice without talking about how privilege affects justice. Who we are, where we come from and what we have access to impact our success. That privilege, or lack thereof, should not define who we are or what we accomplish in life.  Understanding how our position of privilege can affect our access to success is important. 

    Let’s revisit privilege and consider how privilege impacts social justice.

    Go Deeper:

    The following activity will help determine how privilege can affect a person’s life. Record your points on a piece of paper. Total your points at the end.

    1. If you are a white male, give yourself 3 points. 

    2. If there have been times in your life when you skipped a meal because there was no food in the house, subtract 1 point.

    3. If you have visible or invisible disabilities, subtract 1 point.

    4. If you attended (grade) school with people you felt were like yourself give yourself 2 points.

    5. If you grew up in an urban setting, subtract 1 point. 

    6. If your family had private health insurance, give yourself 2 points.

    7. If your work holidays coincide with religious holidays that you celebrate, give yourself 1 point.

    8. If you feel good about how your self-identified culture is portrayed by the media, give yourself 1 point.

    9. If you have been the victim of physical violence based on your gender, ethnicity, age or sexual orientation, subtract 2 points.

    10. If you have ever felt passed over for employment based on your gender, ethnicity, age or sexual orientation, subtract 1 point.

    11. If you were born in the United States, give yourself 1 point.

    12. If English is your first language, give yourself 2 points.

    13. If you have been divorced or impacted by divorce, subtract 1 point.

    14. If you came from a supportive family, give yourself 3 points.

    15. If you have completed high school, give yourself 1 point.

    16. If you were able to complete college, give yourself 2 points.

    17. If you have always been able to easily buy clothes in your size, give yourself 1 point. 

    18. If you took out loans for your education, subtract 1 point.

    19. If you had more than 20 books in your house while growing up, give yourself 1 point.

    20. If you have ever felt unsafe walking alone at night, subtract 1 point.

    Reflect:

    The closer to 20 your score, the more opportunities you have had in your life.  

    • What do you understand about privilege and justice from this exercise?
    • How can this exercise impact your life, your relationships or your teaching?   

    Record your thoughts. 

     Working in a cohort? Share your thoughts with a partner.

    The Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards establishes five anchor standards within the Justice domain.

    Students will:

    JU.11. Recognize stereotypes and relate to people as individuals rather than representatives of groups.

    JU.12. Recognize unfairness on the individual level (e.g., biased speech) and injustice at the institutional or systemic level (e.g., discrimination).

    JU.13. Analyze the harmful impact of bias and injustice on the world, historically and today.

    JU.14. Recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics.

    JU.15. Identify key figures and groups, seminal events and a variety of strategies and philosophies relevant to the history of social justice action around the world.

    Reference the five anchor standards during the next activities.

    Learn:

    To consider what these anchor standards might look like in the school setting, read the following scenarios. 

    Scenario 1

    Shawna timidly approaches her teacher, Mr. Bradley, after school. She explains that her uncle, who picks her up from school, frequently says negative things about black people, and it has been making her feel uncomfortable. “He says that I shouldn’t be friends with Renee and Jeffrey anymore because they are black,” Shawna says, “but I love all my friends!” Mr. Bradley tells Shawna that he’s proud of her and is sorry that she has to deal with something so difficult. He knows that Shawna’s parents would never approve of the way her uncle is talking and promises to call them that evening to discuss the situation.

    Think about Shawna’s story. Which of the five Justice anchor standards are demonstrated?

    Scenario 2

    A class is discussing Cesar Chavez and the American labor movement. Kelly mentions seeing on TV that most of the clothes sold in the United States are made in other countries where workers aren’t protected the way U.S. laborers are.  She notes that even though workers’ conditions have improved in the United States, it doesn’t mean that we should ignore injustice elsewhere. She and several other students are inspired to go home and talk to their parents about purchasing clothes from companies that practice ethical manufacturing. They also plan to set up a clothes swap to help reduce wastefulness.

    Which of the five Justice anchor standards are demonstrated in Kelly’s story?

    Scenario 3

    While Mrs. Douglas’s class is discussing immigration, some of the students start talking negatively about a Latino student in another class, accusing his family of immigrating illegally. Julian speaks up, telling his classmates that it’s not appropriate to use stereotypes and spread rumors about others.  Julian tells them that the student’s family immigrated because they believe in American ideals and feel the United States offers more opportunities. He urges his classmates to respect their decision and says that the family’s status is none of their business. “Life must be hard enough moving to a strange new country,” he says. “Don’t make it harder for him by saying that he doesn’t belong.” Mrs. Douglas affirms Julian’s sentiments and asks her class to think about how this discussion relates to the historical distrust and unfair treatment of other immigrant groups, such as those from Ireland or China.

    Think about Mrs. Douglas’s class story. Which of the five Justice anchor standards are demonstrated?

    Scenario 4

    Karen notices that many of her school’s facilities are not accessible to those with disabilities. Many students have difficulty navigating the school and are often late to class as a result. Karen decides to look into building plans to determine if any accommodations are available for those in the community with physical limitations. She forms a focus group of students and faculty to come up with effective solutions to the situation.

    Which of the five Justice anchor standards are demonstrated in Karen’s story?

    Apply: 

    Stop and think about your students.

    How do your students display the skills found in the Justice standards? How can you help your students further develop these skills? 

    Go Deeper:

    Listen to Robert discuss community both in and out of the classroom.

    Which Justice anchor standards are addressed?

    How does he include these standards in daily instruction?

    Think about the following while listening to Laurence.

    How does Laurence use history to discuss issues of justice in his classroom?

    What important connection does Laurence make between an assignment and the Justice anchor standards?

    In the following example, Anna talks about teaching the theme “Time and Memorial” in her Montana history class.

    How does Anna rely on multiple voices and perspectives to teach history? How does this approach address justice?

    Apply:

    Let’s look at the anchor standards in text.

    JU.11: Recognize stereotypes and relate to people as individuals rather than representatives of groups. “I’m a 30-year-old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow.” John Franklin Stephens, An Open Letter to Ann Coulter.

    JU.12: Recognize unfairness on the individual level (e.g., biased speech) and injustice at the institutional or systemic level (e.g., discrimination). “Although most Americans can trace their ancestry back to immigrants at some point, they have often been wary about welcoming foreigners, both legal and illegal.” Patricia Smith, “The Great Immigration Debate.”

    JU.13: Analyze the harmful impact of bias and injustice on the world, historically and today. “It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.” Peggy McIntosh, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.

    JU.14: Recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics. “It is unthinkable that any woman in Shakespeare’s day should have had Shakespeare’s genius. For genius like Shakespeare’s is not born among laboring, uneducated, servile people. It was not born in England among the Saxons and the Britons. It is not born today among the working classes. How, then, could it have been born among women whose work began, according to Professor Trevelyan, almost before they were out of the nursery, who were forced to it by their parents and held to it by all the power of law and custom?” Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own.

    JU.15: Identify key figures and groups, seminal events and a variety of strategies and philosophies relevant to the history of social justice action around the world. “The American Indian Movement through the years has sought every means possible to bring these crimes against humanity to the attention of the world, hoping that at least some of you would listen and search deep within yourselves for the humanity to demand that the U.S. government stop these crimes.” Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings.

    Apply:

    Think about your classroom texts. Identify texts you use that match each Justice anchor standard(s).

    Reflect:

    In closing, revisit our goals and objectives for this module:

    • Understand the difference between personal stereotypes and systemic discrimination.
    • Explore how privilege impacts discrimination and justice.
    • Identify ways using texts can help address the Justice anchor standards.

    Complete the following:

    • Name three new ideas you gained from this professional development module.
    • Name two new ideas you will bring back to your practice.
    • Name one colleague with whom you will share the learning in this professional development module.

    Meredith Schilsky is president and chief creative director of the Warehouse Project & Gallery.