Social Media & Social Activism

I went into Monday’s debate confident in my agree stance….Of course teachers have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice but after the debate I changed my vote and this is why!

“Participating in social activism is, first and foremost, the right thing to do!” 

Ashley Reid & Katie Sehl – Genuine Social Media Activism: A Guide for Going Beyond the Hashtag

First to be clear, I think social activism is extremly important, but is it a teacher’s responsibility to use social media to promote it? 


If a teacher feels comfortable using social media to promote social justice that’s great but after the debates I realized there are a number of reasons a teacher may be reluctant. As Dalton and Brook mentioned, teachers may be concerned with repercussions or job security. Other concerns mentioned in the article  “Should Educators include Political Opinions in Classroom Discusssions” were fear of parent and/or colleague pushback and unintentionally swaying student perspectives. We also discussed in our break out room the fear of sharing something and it being taken out of context. I think we need to be respectful of a teacher’s comfort level related to social media and support their chose to use it or not.

Genuine Activism versus Slaktivism? 

Social media has become a popular tool for activism. Social media has a large audience and can encourage mass participation. As Kari, Jessica, and Jenny discussed movements such as BLM and Idle No More gained significant momentum through social media. They also shared articles with examples of student led social activist groups that have used social media to create change. Within the article “Using Social Media to Engage Youth: Education, Social Justice, & Humanitarianism” a group of students, Generation Pulse, used social media as a platform to connect with youth affected by Hurriane Katrina. These were great examples of social media activism but as Brook & Dalton discussed social media activism is not always genuine. Supporting a cause online with no additional support, known as Slaktivism, is not genuine social media activism. According to “Genuine Social Media Activism: A Guide for Going Beyond the Hashtag” genuine social media activism is “supported by concrete actions, donations, and measurable commitments to change” (Reid & Sehl).

Social Media is not the only way to promote Social Activism! 

As we enter Pride Week, I have been reflecting on all of the ways that our school division and staff are promoting social activism. At the division level, RBE, has created a diversity committee which is providing ongoing professional development for all employees. They have also been promoting Pride Week/Month through social media, as well as highlihting many of the activities/events at individual schools! RPS will also be participating in the Pride Parade next Saturday! Within my own school there are a number of activities/lessons planned by staff and our GSA and the Pride flag will be raised Monday. Our TL has also invested in a number of resources for the school and staff. While we have some staff that are very comfortable using social media to promote social activism, we also have staff doing incredible things that have no ties to social media.

Again I want to highlight the importance of social activism but after the debates and reflection I do not think teacher’s have a responsibility to use social media as a means to promote it. If they choose to….Great but there are many other ways to promote social activism that teachers may feel more comfortable with!

Tracy

7 thoughts on “Social Media & Social Activism

  1. Thanks for your reflection! I follow Regina Public Schools (along with a handful of other specific schools in the division) on Twitter and I think they do a great job at advocating for social justice issues online. Maybe that’s a good solution to this debate question… have hired social media people per division and have it be their job to promote what’s happening across the division, including advocacy for social justice! That would “set the tone” for each division being a place of inclusion and acceptance. Like I said, whoever is running the RPS Twitter account is doing a great job, but many other school divisions’ Twitter accounts are radio silent…Some food for thought!

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    1. Yes! I agree whoever is managing RPS’s social media is doing a great job! I’ve really noticed an increase in social media being used to promote and highlight social activism this year at the division level and within individual schools.

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  2. Thanks for that last paragraph! I love seeing activism online, but some educators just aren’t ready to do that. It’s been amazing to see the activism happening offline this month. My school has a GSA club that has students read lgbtq+ books to younger grades and is putting on a fair next week. You can tell how welcomed students feel when they have advocates and accepting people in their lives. Educators fall into that category and can still make a difference even if they aren’t on social media.

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  3. Your last paragraph hits the nail on the head for me. Yes, educators do have a responsibility to teach social justice in their classrooms and with their students. However, as you said in your last paragraph, using social media isn’t the only way to teach social justice issues or to be an activist. If we force people to use a certain medium to advocate social justice issues, then we are not allowing one to authentically engage in their own level of comfort when it comes to activism.

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  4. I agree that it is a complex debate on whether social media should be used to promote a social justice issue. As mentioned in the debate, teachers have a lot to worry about with job security and the repercussions of stating an opinion that may be against others in their school or their division. With that being said, it’s also essential for teachers to be able to have a voice and share what they feel is necessary, especially regarding social justice. As teachers, it is our job to promote our division initiatives and highlight things that our division has deemed necessary regarding students learning. However, I agree with you that if a teacher does not feel comfortable, it is not their job to promote it on social media. On the other hand, I do believe it is a teacher’s job to teach the students the power that social media can have in making a difference in a social justice issue that they may wish to advocate for in the future.

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    1. You make a good point about teaching students the power of social media even if we don’t use it to promote our own social activism. You’re right students should be aware of the power of social media. On that topic students should also learn about how to use social media in a genuine/appropriate way -going beyond the hashtag!

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