Wow. There’s a lot wrong with our world. I don’t even know where to start.
Although voiced by an 11 year old female, the immensity of social injustices in society was clearly written on the faces of my 21 sixth grade students. The room was silent. Their eyes were downcast. Their shoulders sagged a bit, as if realizing the weightiness of the topics written on the board.
The class began by defining social justice (see social + justice). Sometimes to understand what a difficult concept is (like social justice), we need to explore what it isn’t. Therefore, as a class, we needed to investigate the injustices in society, the areas where our local, state, national, and global communities are not achieving equity.
The list students created is quite extensive, ranging from discriminating against someone’s race, sexual orientation, disability, and gender to global issues of terrorism and sex trafficking.
Students expressed issues facing middle school students like bullying, depression, alcohol/drug use, and divorce to environmental issues of pollution, water scarcity, and global climate change.
At the end of our brainstorm, student sat back and looked at a board filled with issues in our society. The silence felt like hopelessness, that the world was filled with too many problems. That these students were “only” 11 and 12 years old. That the injustices were far too big for them to solve.
So I scanned the room, catching as many eyes as I could, and asked, “Now what are we doing to do about it?”
Hope began to light up their eyes.