Fighting Oppression Online?

Hello everyone!

This week has been very hectic. I had three major projects due this week, two of which were group projects. With so much due this week, I unfortunately did not get a lot of time to write my final debate blog. But, now that all of my major projects are done, I finally have had the time to sit down and write my final EDTC 400 debate blog. So without further adue, here is my EDTC 400 debate blog.

Last week, for the final EDTC 400 debate, the topic was “Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice and fight oppression: Agree or disagree?” The two debaters for this week were Jesse and Daniel. Jesse was on the agree side of the debate, while Daniel was on the disagree side of the debate. Fighting oppression and promoting social justice is a highly debated topic. The class really got into the debate this week and there was quite a good discussion going for most of the debate.

THe Debate

To begin the debate, the class participated in the typical (and final) pre-vote. For this week’s pre-vote, the class was leaning more towards Jesse’s side of the debate (the agree side). About 70% of the class was on the agree side and 30% was on the disagree side. I was on the opposite side of the class to begin this debate. To begin this debate, I did not think it was the teacher’s job to fight oppression and fight for social justice online. I did not think it was a teacher’s responsibility to voice their political values online or that online is the best spot to discuss social justice issues. I have always thought that teachers should stay as neutral as possible in order to not let biases enter the classroom.

Pre-Debate Vote

Jesse’s Side of the Debate

With this is mind, we started off the debate. The class first listened to Jesse’s debate video. Jesse was on the agree side of the debate. He had three main points for his video. They are:

  1. Why staying neutral is problematic
  2. Risks of staying silent online
  3. Using technology/social media effectively can be beneficial

Jesse’s video raised quite a few important points but the most important point that stuck out to me was Jesse’s comment that staying neutral is problematic. In ECS 210, we discussed a lot about neutrality and the issues of being neutral. One of the biggest things from ECS 210 and from Jesse’s video that stuck out to me is that being neutral is siding with the side that is being oppressive. By not speaking out and not fighting against oppression, people are siding with the sides that are being oppressive. Pretending that oppression and social justice issues do not happen is not benefiting students, it is actually harming them. By not speaking out against oppression and social justice issues, teachers are unintentionally stating that they are not issues and that they are okay. Sometimes, what teachers do not teach is more important than what they are teaching.

Daniel’s Side of the Debate

After Jesse’s video, the class watched Daniel’s video that discussed why teachers should not fight social justice issues and oppression online. Daniel’s video included four main reasons why he disagreed with the debate topic. Daniel’s four main topics are:

  1. Teachers are under constant scrutiny from the public (parents)
  2. The education system is political
  3. Students are easily influenced
  4. Teachers should have a neutral standpoint when teaching and allow students to think for themselves.

One of the biggest things that stood out to me from Daniel’s video was his comment that the education system is political. In ECS 200, we discussed a lot about the politics of the education system. In that course, we also discussed the influence of teacher’s lenses on students. A teacher’s opinion and political standpoint can greatly influence the lives of their students. Many teachers do not want to post political issues online because they are worried that it can be taken the wrong way by parents or employers. Many teachers believe that it is better to stay silent online about oppression and social justice issues rather than chancing the backlash from parents or employers. Daniel’s side of the debate really highlighted many of the concerns that I had when I first entered this debate.

The Debate

After hearing both sides of the debate, I was still on the fence as to which side I fully stood with. During the debate, I really heard some points that stuck out to me. The class discussed a lot about the difference between fact and opinion. Katia brought up a great topic that highlights the difference between fact and opinion; the flat Earth discussion. It is fact that the Earth is NOT flat, but some people have the opinion that the Earth is flat. This example really made it clear to me the difference between facts and opinions. When discussing the issue of oppression and social justice problems, it is fact that there is oppression and it is wrong, but some people have the opinion that there is no oppression in the world and that the world is fair. The class also discussed the issue of discussing controversial topics with students in the classroom. It is important for teachers to discuss social justice issues with students because as I stated during the debate, when teachers are “neutral” they are supporting the side that is oppressive. Teachers must encourage students to understand the difference between facts and opinions. Teachers must also teach students that oppression is something that people must fight against.

My Thoughts

Educators must realize that they play a big role in encouraging their students to fight against oppression and social justice issues. Teachers can play both a positive and negative influence on their students. Teachers must recognize the influence that they can have on their students. As discussed during the debate, teachers can sway students by only telling one side of the facts of an issue. Teachers must provide students will all of the information so they can make an informed decision. As many of the articles that Jesse shared discuss, being neutral in the classroom and online will not benefit students. These articles include Valerie Strauss’s article, Damir Mujezinovic’s article, and Tim Walker’s article. Many of these articles discuss the drawbacks for students when teachers stay neutral. Teachers must speak out against oppression and social justice issues both in their classroom and online.

Speaking out against social justice issues may look different for every teacher. For some teachers, speaking out and fighting against social justice issues may be getting their students to participate in a pipeline protest as Maryam Shah’s article discusses. For some teachers, speaking out against social justice issues may be sharing articles that support fighting against social justice issues. Teachers must fight against oppression and social justice issues both online and in the classroom, but teachers must be aware of what they are posting.

COnclusion

Overall, this debate really sparked some good discussion with the class and changed my views on the debate topic itself. As the discussion went on, I realized that I live in a digital world and in order to fully reach as many people as possible is to share things online. Sharing articles or websites that fight against oppression and social justice issues is a great way to inform my students and their parents that I am not neutral in social justice issues. As I stated above, neutrality is not the best option when discussing social justice issues. Being neutral and refusing to choose a side that is against oppression is actually choosing the side that is being oppressive.

Post Debate VOte

At the end of the debate, Jesse got a few more votes than he initially did. Below is a picture of the final class vote.

Final Thoughts

This debate topic was a great topic to end the class on. The class really got into the discussion and like almost every other debate topic, the importance of balance was mentioned once again. It is important that teachers are balanced when they discuss social justice issues and oppression. Teachers must give students all of the facts and allow students to develop their own stand on the issues. Teachers can and should be fighting oppression and social justice issues online. Teachers can do this in any manor they feel comfortable with. This can range from anything from sharing articles on social media, to organizing a protest.

Thank you for reading my blog post! If you have any comments leave them below!

Have a good summer everyone!

Ashley Osachoff

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