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Debate #4-Do Educators Have the Responsibility of Being Activists Online?

One of the first rules we learn at university as future teachers is how we must stay safe online. This means having our social media platforms be private and watching what we say on them. Nowadays, social media has become a great place for activism, connecting with others on the same issues, and spreading awareness. Many teachers came into this profession wanting to change the world for the better. So now, where do we stand? Do educators have a responsibility to be activists online?

Agree-Yes, Educators Have a Responsibility to Use Technology and Social Media to Promote Social Justice

Jenny, Jessica, and Kari did an amazing job on their video! I would definitely watch more “Teacher Tech Talks”. I appreciate their explanation of social justice and how it relates to education. Here are some discussion points that I took away from the agree side!

1. Teaching is not neutral- I really enjoyed reading Angela Watson’s take on our responsibility as educators to be activists. She explains: “Your worldview shapes your classroom management and curriculum choices, whether consciously or not”. We can’t stay on the sidelines when it comes to social justice issues. Many of us have students that will be discriminated because of their gender, race, sexuality, etc. As someone who cares deeply for our students, how are we supposed to stay quiet? We need to stand up for those who are discriminated- we can’t stay out of it. It doesn’t mean we are pushing our students to agree with us on certain topics, but to make sure that our students know we are fighting for them. If they see us being activists online, they will see how important they are to us.

2. Teachers allow for student voices to be heard- We became teachers to make change. We know our students can do almost anything if they try. With that being said, we have a large impact on what our students will do in the future. We are role models and motivators. Being an activist on social media shows our students that they have a voice and they can make change. I really like this quote by Lorena Gorman: “There is power in student voice, and it isn’t a voice any teacher can give. We don’t give voices. We make space for them in our curricula and classrooms, or we don’t“. We need to promote and teach social justice so that,just like the agree side said in their video, young children can then pick up the torch (if they haven’t already) and promote social justice online.

3. Social Media is a large part of our students’ lives– Social media is what our children know. It’s how we can reach them and maybe even how they can be heard. Torret Trust explains in their article that teachers shouldn’t shy away from using social media, but use it and show students how to use it properly as well. Trust says: “Social media is an incredibly powerful tool that can transform learning in many ways. Students use it on a daily basis to share resources and engage in conversations with their peers.Education and even activism has changed with technology. We can do so much on our platforms to raise awareness and show our students who are on social media how they may use it make change.

4. Social media connects us with others around the world- Think about a time when there was no social media. Think about how so many people were alone in their own fight with social justice issues. Think about how much awareness is raised for social justice issues that would not have received the attention they needed without social media. With technology, educators can raise awareness on social justice issues in areas that affect their students and themselves. It’s so important that those struggling are not alone.

Disagree- No, Educators Do Not Have the Responsibility to Use Technology and Social Media to Promote Social Justice

Dalton and Brooke also had a great video explaining why educators don’t necessarily have to use social media to promote social justice. Here are the points that caught my attention:

1.Slacktivism- I learned this word in another EC&I course that I took and it comes to my mind quite a bit while scrolling my social media platforms. I always think of influencers who might only be sharing and talking about social justice issues as a way to get more attention and followers. Of course, it spreads the word. But like Dalton said, words lose meaning when there is no action. Content is useless when there is no change with it. There are better ways to promote activism- with action!

2. Teachers will always be teachers– Even outside of the classroom, you’re a teacher. Seeing a student at a store-you’re a teacher. It’s part of the profession. This also goes with when you are online. However, what you say online can stay online forever. Educators are also used to being private as to not mess with the code of conduct. Being an activist online doesn’t mean you will get fired, but relationships can be damaged online as well as have other professional repercussions. Madeline Will explains in their article about teachers who have faced some consequences due to their actions online. “They (educators) don’t want to hurt their relationships with parents, students, or colleagues who might have different beliefs than they do. They worry about professional repercussions”. It’s important to not mix your personal life in with your professional one.

3. Not every teacher is experienced with social media- Many educators are activists online. I see it everyday on Twitter and on TikTok ( check out @steve_boots if you haven’t yet! Now, many teachers have experience with social media, social justice issues, and how to handle them online. However, some don’t and don’t feel ready to be activists on social media. Educators need to watch their sources and they really need to know the issue they are talking about online. If not, well… it can do some damage. This came up in class when talking about the freedom convoy that started as one thing, but ended up promoting something else. I don’t feel like I have enough experience in my career or in social justice issues yet, so I will keep learning, discussing with my students, but I am staying offline.

4. Teachers already have a lot on their plate. Using social media outside of school was never part of the job description. We don’t have time to be on social media during work hours and we aren’t required to work at home. Educators already have a full time job and we all know they work nonstop all day and work more than they need for the sake of their students. Adding another responsibility can cause even more burn out. (Which we really don’t need!)

Final Thoughts

Social media platforms can be an incredible place to promote and raise awareness for social justice issues. It connects the world, allows for more voices to be heard, and it’s an easy way to learn about social justice and events happening in the world. Educators make an impact on students and can make change using social media. However, it’s important that those who want to use social media for social justice to do so correctly. They need to be ready for the repercussions that may happen. I don’t think educators need to have the responsibility of being activists online if they don’t feel experienced or ready to do so. Educators can still make change by teaching and discussing social justice and activism in their classroom. They can also be activists online (Goodbye slacktivism!) and actually make change with action in their community.

  • Do you use social media to be an activist? If so, what do you think is important to know?
  • If you don’t use social media to be an activist, do you think you ever will?

One thought on “Debate #4-Do Educators Have the Responsibility of Being Activists Online?

  1. I love your two prompting questions at the end. I am not a social media activist, and the be 1000% honest, I don’t think I ever will be. Social media isn’t my jam, and never really has been. I am an outsider with very limited interaction, and I prefer it that way. I like to have a very limited digital footprint and try to keep out of the social media spotlight as much as I can. I would like to say that maybe one day I would venture out and show activism through social media, but I can think of a lot of other ways that I would be better at being an activist, and can’t say that social media is one of them. Again, loved the end questions! So helpful to keep my thoughts concentrated.


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