A different way

                                                                                 I hate injustice.  I have taught my students about the genocide in Rwanda & wept.  After sifting through endless hours of information on the Holocaust, I have been awoken by nightmares, the content so deeply etched in my psyche.  I passionately expound the atrocities of modern-day slavery and the HIV pandemic that is decimating Africa. These things need to be changed.

And yet, somehow, I’m also able to by an 8 dollar t-shirt, and not realize until much, much later that the majority of the cost for that purchase was not paid by me, but by some poor garment worker in China, India, or Malaysia. Disappointing.

My students are disappointed.  Disappointed in the world they are inheriting.  Disappointed that there are so many promises, so little being done.  Disappointed that the problems seem so large, and the options so few.  Many of them want to change the world; they hate injustice too.

And yet, social media allows for the possibility of change.  It allows, in ways not possible before, for the voices of my students to be heard, for like-minded people to band together to make a difference.   As Michael Wesch observes, correctly, the voices of the “heard” have been few, until now; their interests dominated by economics, not altruism.   It’s time for this to change.

Social media, allows for a plethora of voices to be heard, to make a difference.  This is something I’d like to teach my students how to do.  As Howard Rheingold states, “What forms of suffering could be alleviated if we knew more about cooperation?”

If you know people or organizations using social media to do social good, I’d love to hear about it.

About shelleywright

I love education & learning, which likely explains why I'm a teacher. My areas are ELA, Sr. sciences, and technology. My classroom is best described as a student-centred, tech embedded pbl/inquiry learning environment. Furthermore, I am Buck Institute for Education National Faculty member
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4 Responses to A different way

  1. Great to see another educator guided by social justice. Here are some thought I recently had that, I hope, relate your post. Check out the comments by Julia for some great insight.


    And Daraja is a project that is dear to my heart. Still trying to get socially networked.

    We are on Twitter @daraja and Facebook. Here is the blog: http://daraja-academy.org/

    Here is my connection to the project: http://intrepidflame.blogspot.com/search/label/Daraja

  2. Viplav Baxi says:

    Thanks for your heartfelt post. I am wondering if it is the use of social media and technology that “allows for the possibility of change”. I think the important stuff was done in getting your students to build an emotional, personal contact with pressing problems. They learnt to empathize, reflect and were stirred to some form of action. That is truly amazing. In my opinion, the possibility of change was triggered by your efforts first and foremost. Social media probably acted (or can act) as an information source and a propagation/amplification mechanism; maybe as one of the tools for the possible change. It is important in an increasingly connected world, but I would resist elevating it (or any technology/format) to the level of your effort and that of your students.

  3. olabakri says:

    I agree with you Shelley. It’s very difficult to see mistress and stand silent without doing anything. One could feel useless. For me an Arab I feel that regarding many issues that relate to my region such as Palestinian and Iraqi causes. I sometimes convince myself that I am doing my best by spreading the cause and letting people know of what is happening there because the truth is not known to many people.
    In some how I am right because media voice is louder than ever. Also, many people use these social net works to voice their concerns and make their voice heard. That’s what I am doing and many are doing thinking we are doing something and I think we are doing something even if it’s a Facebook status or a Youtube video!

  4. I too tackled the topic of Genocide with my grade 7/8 class last year. It was a long, dark, depressing journey that left my students emotionally exhausted. I remember them asking me “why do we have to learn about something that is so depressing?” My answer, unfortunately was “the world is depressing my dear, and you need to know now what you are faced with.” One of the questions that my students has was “why do we not hear very much about genocide?” They wanted to know why Durfur and Sudan are not head line news everyday. We talked about how in the 90’s when the genocide was taking place in Rwanda and I was in high school, I had no idea that it was happening. We then talked about how in our world we have instant access to information and through that access, ignorance is no longer an option. We taught them that by talking about these things, they do not go unnoticed and that knowledge is the most powerful tool for prevention. There are so many possibilities to gain knowledge now and we decided to create our own. We created the Milliken Genocide Project at http://millikengenocideproject.wikispaces.com/ that was designed to serve as a digital textbook that addressed specific topics pertaining to various genocides. We have so many options to have a voice, good job using them.

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