Education

Justifying Social Justice in the Classroom

In the Sunday Papers session at TAM 2014, Michelle L. Knaier presented a short talk about teaching social justice through science education. She began by defining social justice as “treating all people with fairness, respect, dignity, and generosity” and later gave some specific examples of racist, sexist, and homophobic stereotypes that are both damaging and demonstrably untrue.

The very first question she was asked involved the comment “when people come to science with an angle of having a particular political axe to grind, that can have a danger of biasing science […]” He was implying that social justice was her political axe to grind on her students.

I’ve encountered this sentiment before, and often. Social justice is framed as a political ideology that is pushed onto students by liberal teachers, and many in the Skeptic movement have parroted this. I am going to argue that it is not.

Skepticism tends to focus on testable claims about reality, and value systems are often outside of that. Values get lumped in with opinions, where everyone is entitled to their own and everyone should make up their own minds. However, like opinions, some values are testable. In economics, for example, many people have very strong opinions about economic systems based on their personal values, but we actually have lots of evidence about whether those systems work well or not. As skeptics, our values shouldn’t get a free pass just because we like them. Some are better supported than others and we should, as a movement, reflect those values. (I’m writing another post about this very point so I won’t get into it further here.)

While teachers should not be pushing their own ideologies onto their students, part of teaching involves teaching values. The values we are meant to teach are those that are shared by our society at large and should help students succeed in life and become good citizens. For example, we, as teachers in a democracy, should reflect a value of democracy itself. By placing a value on the whole voting process, we are creating a population to actively participate in the democracy that our society depends upon. It would be irresponsible of a teacher to discourage students from voting or devalue the democratic system we have.

It is not just society that is meant to benefit from the values we teach our students. A great professor of mine talked about dealing with students (and parents) who had homophobic beliefs. One of her many reasons to actively and explicitly be anti-homophobic in class was that allowing students to hold those beliefs can seriously hinder their chances to succeed in the future. Many societies are moving towards acceptance of people who are LGB, and letting students maintain beliefs that are opposite to the rest of society can hold them back.

Think of it this way: how many US companies would hire someone who is an active and outspoken racist? Would it benefit our students to hold racist beliefs? Do you really think homophobia isn’t becoming analogous to racism in American society?

It’s a bit like teaching creationism instead of evolution in the science classroom. Once those students get to college, they can be seriously hampered by their misunderstandings of biology. Not only would they lack the actual prior knowledge they need to succeed in a biology class, they would also have a whole body of misinformed knowledge and strong beliefs to deny what they are supposed to learn.

If society is moving to be more progressive (which it is, generally speaking in the English speaking world at least), teaching, encouraging, or even allowing students to be sexist, racist, etc. goes against what we are meant to be doing as teachers. There is a social justice component in teaching, but it has nothing to do with grinding a political axe or pushing our own* ideologies onto our students. It is entirely about helping our students to succeed in this world, and that, dear reader, is our duty.

*(Edit-2016/2/17: A discussion in the comments brought up a point I should have clarified here. I am advocating for teaching with generally progressive values, but not just because those are my own values. There are a number of positions I hold that are definitely not progressive and yet I would teach the more progressives ones despite my own beliefs. This is because that is where society is apparently heading and, as I’ve argued, we should be preparing our students as best we can for the actual future they will encounter. Also, my next post addresses what I mean by teaching values. I’m not talking about explicitly telling students what to think. “Values” in education involve another concept that warrants a post of its own.)

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Jay

Jay

Jay teaches English in Asia and loves skepticism and teaching above all else.

23 Comments

  1. February 14, 2016 at 9:51 pm —

    Reliance on the argument you present here carries a grave danger. If the aim of education is to fit us to society, to enable us to get jobs in society as it exists, and so forth,  then what happens to that a if society changes and becomes worse? For instance, suppose that our culture changes ( because the people within it change)  in such a way that injustice to particular people,  and/or to particular groups of people, becomes not only business as usual but becomes hailed as a great and positive virtue? Suppose, for example,  that someday it becomes impossible to get an education or a job unless you indeed hate and fear homosexuals (or atheists, or Muslims, or blacks or Jews or Buddhists or Republicans or Democrats or evolutionists or creationists or … you name it … )  to the point of being demonstrably eager to sentence them unjustly for crimes they did not commit, to exterminate them sooner or later, and to raise taxes and pay taxes for theae and other purposes  — or unless you can at give a convincing impression of being ready and eager to do so. If the purpose of education is to fit us into society as educated and employable citizens, this can be used to defend fitting us into a totalitarianism of any sort (wherever and wherever that exists) every bit as convincingly as it can be used to defend fitting us fir a society that values truthfulness and freedom.

    • February 15, 2016 at 4:38 am —

      That is an excellent point you’ve brought up, and my reply has two main prongs. In fact, when I brought up this very point to the professor who I mentioned in my post, she replied by quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” Though I argued at the time, I’ve since been at least somewhat convinced (by skeptics) that this has some good evidence supporting it.

      My first point is that I am specifically advocating being progressive. I’m actually working on a whole other post about how teaching values is inescapable. Like it or not, no matter how we try to teach, there are always going to be values implied in our education. The question becomes about whose values we should choose to use. Our own? No, because that would involve pushing our own ideologies onto our students. Whose values should we be teaching then? I’d say progressive ones, by their very nature (key word being progress) regardless of whether we like them or not, this is where society is going.

      You said:

      If the purpose of education is to fit us into society as educated and employable citizens […]

      While I would also argue that that is not the purpose of education, I would argue that it is a purpose. At least, in public schools. And it is important.

      My second point deals with the situation you described:

      this can be used to defend fitting us into a totalitarianism of any sort (wherever and wherever that exists) every bit as convincingly as it can be used to defend fitting us fir a society that values truthfulness and freedom [sic]

      I’m going to use an example that is very close to me: North Korea (I am in South Korea). If a teacher there was to teach students a system of values that was different from the officially state sanctioned ones and students adopted some of those values, they could possibly be executed.* This becomes a question of “support a terrible regime and society you disagree with” or “risk your students becoming martyrs.” I am the kind of person who would stand up for my principles even if it damaged me (I have done this in the past) but I would not put my students at risk for this. As much as I want my society to change, I can’t advocate for giving them an education that could literally destroy their lives.

      So yes, I do advocate for reflecting (at least some, if not most) of society’s values (or, as I would specify, future more progressive values) in our classrooms as opposed to our own. I am depending on a somewhat optimistic view of the future and a realization that this same principal can perpetuate a terrible system, but I would still place my students’ futures above my own desires for activism.

      *One thing that inspired this post was Suki Kim (link is to her TED talk transcript because I can’t find the exact article I read and she makes many similar points there). She expresses a sentiment that sums up this point, referring to her students:

      “The rest of the world might casually encourage or even expect some sort of North Korean Spring, but I don’t want you to do anything risky, because I know in your world, someone is always watching. I don’t want to imagine what might happen to you. If my attempts to reach you have inspired something new in you, I would rather you forget me. Become soldiers of your Great Leader, and live long, safe lives.”

      The grave danger you write about is, at worst, a lack of change. That is one thing I find anyway, regardless of what or how I am teaching.

      • February 15, 2016 at 7:22 pm —

        I cannot see how to teach any values that are _not_ one’s own.

         

        To teach against what one values, simply _because_ one values it — to direct students towards values that one does not, in fact, seek and endorse — that one considers, in fact, valueless (or of negative value) — is to be a hypocrite and to demonstrate/teach hypocrisy as a value.

        To do so under threat of death (e.g., a teacher of history or of science who values fact and who is required to teach falsehoods in North Korea, in much of the USA or — earlier — in Nazi Germany or in the Soviet Union) is to be someone who should seek a way to stop teaching. (That way may admittedly be death, in a place where work is assigned by the same state which decrees that the teacher’s work shall be to teach falsehoods because the state wants them true.)

        If the choice is between /a/ teaching against what one values and /b/ sweeping streets, /b/ would be honest. If the choice is between /a/ teaching against what one values and /c/ being killed, that does not make /a/ honest.

         

        • February 16, 2016 at 7:12 pm —

          I cannot see how to teach any values that are _not_ one’s own.

          This is an argument from incredulity, correct? Let me give you two examples from my own experience as a high school student. In a very Christian community, I had two teachers who were biblical literalists, evangelical fundamentalists, etc. Both had nearly identical value systems in terms of their religion. Both disregarded any non-biblical view of history and science. One was my history teacher and the other taught me science.

          In the case of the history teacher, he incorporated his values into his teaching and taught us the bible as history (in a public school) and framed all the history we learned about within his own morality. He mis-taught us horribly and I am still unlearning the ideologies he presented (implicitly and explicitly) as fact. My science teacher, on the other hand, taught us science. She taught us about evolution and never once invoked her god to explain the origins of life. She presented us the real scientific consensus about climate change. She did not believe any of it. She told us in class, once, that she didn’t believe in evolution. Yet she taught it anyway because she was a science teacher and that meant she should teach science.

          Honesty and truth are different concepts. I could say something honestly that was not true, and visa-versa. Honestly believing something doesn’t make it true. Aren’t skeptics supposed to pursue what is actually true instead of just treating someone’s honest account as a true representation of reality?

          To teach against what one values, simply _because_ one values it — to direct students towards values that one does not, in fact, seek and endorse — that one considers, in fact, valueless (or of negative value) — is to be a hypocrite and to demonstrate/teach hypocrisy as a value.

          I never said this. I said: “As skeptics, our values shouldn’t get a free pass just because we like them. Some are better supported than others and we should, as a movement, reflect those values.” I am advocating that we look at evidence for and against our own values before we let them slip into our classroom. This is the same as saying “Try to examine our own biases because they can bias our teaching.”

          You don’t like my argument because you think it can be used to support a position you also don’t like (you’ve mentioned a totalitarianism). However, you haven’t provided me with a better alternative. If you take my argument to a real extreme, such as my example of an actual teacher’s account from North Korea, my approach is still pragmatic in that it doesn’t kill the students. If you were to have teachers just teach their own personal values regardless of what the evidence says, you would have my horrible history teacher.

          As I said in my post about activism, “A teacher’s job is to teach a particular subject, not impart your own ideology onto your students or indoctrinate them into your own beliefs.”

          There are other ways to create societal change than shoving an ideology down our students throats. They are not ours to manipulate for our own purposes. The classroom is not your private playground where you can push your own ideas about right and wrong onto your students.

      • February 15, 2016 at 7:40 pm —

        Re:

        I am the kind of person who would stand up for my principles even if it damaged me (I have done this in the past) but I would not put my students at risk for this. As much as I want my society to change, I can’t advocate for giving them an education that could literally destroy their lives.

        In other words, the implicit dictum is: “Warp the teaching, because honest and unwarped teaching will sacrifice your students.” When this is the case, the response of honest teachers must be to refuse to teach _at_ _all_ in such a context.

        Imagine that you taught arithmetic: under a régime which had adopted the Biblical dictum that pi = 3. Teaching arithmetic honestly-up-to-a-point (then warping it when you get to pi) is not worth it: what happens when a student does some simple measurements and discovers you lied? Do you tell that student to un-discover what s/he found, to un-think it? To remain a teacher by compromise with a “pi=3” math textbook (or with a “Great Leader discivered everything important” history textbook, or a “Master Race” biology textbook) is as venal and vicious as the boy in the old tale about a brother and sister dividling a pie that theit mother had baked. (The sister asked for half of the pie — her brother demanded all of it — their father arrived on the scene and decreed that “the fair thing” was to compromise between the two positions: “Judy, give Tommy three-quarters of the pie.”)

        • February 16, 2016 at 8:24 pm —

          No, the implicit dictum is “leave personal activism out of the classroom because that isn’t the place for it.”

          You seem to be conflating some major premises here and I think that’s causing you to misread what I’m actually saying. First, honesty and truth (as I mentioned) are not the same. If you genuinely believed that pi was 3, you could teach that honestly, but it wouldn’t be true. I advocate for factual truth over honesty.

          The bigger conflation I see in your comments is a substitution of values and facts. Let me break this down or we definitely won’t have a productive discussion here because we’ll be talking about different things. When it comes to factual information, such as the value of pi, that is demonstrable and testable. There is one true answer. I could prove that pi isn’t 3 with a ruler and a piece of string. As a skeptic, I am very strongly in favor of only teaching correct facts. I’ve said this repeatedly. Things that are demonstrably untrue have no place in the classroom* and we have an obligation to make sure that what we are teaching is actually correct.

          Values are where things get tricky. In some cases, you cannot factually prove that one value is better than another. There are people who would die to fight for more freedoms, and there are people who would sacrifice some of their freedoms to gain more security. As far as I know, you can’t really prove that freedom or security is inherently better. They are values, and different people have different ideas about them. There’s not really a right or wrong answer with this. I can’t use a ruler and string to demonstrate that one is good and the other is bad.

          However, the argument I was making in my original post dealt with another kind of value. I gave an example of economics. Some people believe that a totally free market is the best thing ever. This involves a particular set of values involving the idea of freedom. However, this is not entirely untestable. We have evidence about whether totally free markets work or not, and whether they do what people claim they do. Things like capitalism and communism involve values regarding freedom and equality, but they also involve testable claims about whether they work and how well they work and whether they actually do what they are claimed to do.

          In my post, I said: “some values are testable. […] As skeptics, our values shouldn’t get a free pass just because we like them. Some are better supported than others and we should, as a movement, reflect those values.” I’m advocating that we teach correct information. Your pi example is literally the opposite of what I said. That is a fact, not a value. When values deal with facts, I argue we should be teaching the correct facts. When they don’t…

          Here’s an example that reflects what I mean: as an English teacher I might have a lesson about professions. I could show students pictures of doctors, businessmen, politicians, builders, policemen, firemen, nurses, schoolteachers, secretaries, etc. If my pictures of doctors, businessmen, politicians, builders, policemen, and firemen were all men and my pictures of nurses, schoolteachers, and secretaries were all women, this would reflect a particular set of values (involving traditional gender roles) to the students. There is nothing factually incorrect about this. There are male doctors and female nurses in the world, it isn’t dishonest to show this. If I was to mix up the genders of the pictures, it would reflect an entirely different set of values.

          I need to choose which pictures I am going to use, and no matter what I choose I will be reflecting an ideology. One is to keep with tradition and the other is reflect the changes I am seeing in the world. I’m arguing that social justice is the better choice, not because I am a “social justice warrior” who wants to grind my ideological axe on my students, but because I look at society and see a steady march of progress and my education should prepare students for the world they will live in.

          *A final point I must clarify is the difference between a free country and a totalitarian one. The purpose of education is different in these places. In a democracy one of the reasons we are educating our children is to be able to participate in a democratic system. This is not, however, the purpose of a madrasa in an Islamic theocracy. That education exists for entirely different reasons, and the job of being a teacher in a madrasa is a different kind of a job to being a teacher in a public school in the USA. Teaching in a free country is an entirely different proposition to teaching in a locked-down dictatorship. I wouldn’t teach in North Korea because I couldn’t possibly bite my tongue hard enough. But if I consider what those teachers should be doing, not getting their kids killed seems like the best they could make of such a bad situation. That is also the purpose of their job, and you could argue that “teacher” isn’t the best title for a “teacher” in that situation.

          It’s like walking into a church and yelling at the preacher for teaching incorrect accounts of history. The purpose of a church is to teach religion. The purpose of a school depends on where and what the school is. When you fulfilled Godwin’s law in your previous comment, you were treating two entirely different professions as though they were the same. “Teacher” doesn’t always mean the same thing or serve the same purpose. The teachers I was talking to and about in my post are the ones who would most likely be reading this kind of post, the ones who live in a free country and are supposed to be teaching critical thinking because that is what it means to be a teacher there.

      • February 15, 2016 at 11:08 pm —

        Whose values should we be teaching then? I’d say progressive ones, by their very nature (key word being progress) regardless of whether we like them or not, this is where society is going.

        No coincidence that it happens to be your values that you think everyone should be made to teach regardless of their own.

        • February 16, 2016 at 6:36 pm —

          You are wrong on two counts. First, I’m not advocating my own values. That was the whole point of my post. For example, my opinion on immigration here is far from progressive. However, my job is to help teach my students to become global citizens and my views on immigration don’t reflect the gradual changes this society is experiencing. Focusing on my own values in the classroom, as far as I can tell, will not be advantageous to them on this topic. I recognize that my opinions are certainly biased and may be entirely wrong, so I try to look outside of myself to figure out what values my lessons ought to reflect.

          Second, there are some values I would advocate that do match my own. Saying this is “no coincidence” seems like a obvious thing to point out. It is also not a coincidence that I advocate for skepticism when I myself am a skeptic. You wouldn’t say “It’s no coincidence that Rebecca Watson would write in favor of social justice when she herself is in favor of it.” No, it’s not a coincidence, it’s obvious that this would be the case. I’m human and biased and think I’m right.

          When my personal values match up with the ones I think should be taught (which is certainly not always) it either means that my biases won, or I am actually right, or this sentence is a false dichotomy.

          My purpose of this post was to argue “Let’s not just teach the things we think are right purely because we think they are right. Let’s look for some evidence first.” I think there’s evidence for social justice even without unpacking all its complexities.

          • February 16, 2016 at 7:47 pm

            Now this is interesting to me, because there wasn’t anything to suggest before that you yourself held any positions that were not in line with social justice/progressivism but you still advocate that those positions be taught. I think this is an important element of the argument to bring out, as it shows you aren’t actually just saying “everyone should be teaching my values because they are the right ones,” which wasn’t necessarily clear before (at least as I read it).

            In your second example, of course! But there’s a difference between arguing in favour of a person like Rebecca representing their own values and calling for everyone to teach a set of values regardless of whether they believe them.

          • February 16, 2016 at 11:04 pm

            I’ve been hesitant to actually reveal my political positions on this site because I didn’t want to risk turning my posts into a shouting match in the comment section about politics that gets nowhere because that kind of thread often does. There are also points where I know my position differs greatly from some things I read on the Skepchick network. I try to usually keep my posts here in line with the things we have in common, because most of my positions are akin to what I see here. I will add a small note in my post to clarify this, I think you are right that it was not at all clear and it probably should be.

          • February 17, 2016 at 11:37 pm

            It’s partially my fault for assuming your political positions by virtue of being a network contributor.

            There is also a not-insignificant subset of liberal/progressive skeptics who (quite mistakenly, in my opinion) insist social justice is “science” and therefore objectively true (e.g. AlexanderZ in this thread), despite the fact that it is a philosophical position rooted in certain a priori assumptions and value judgements. These assumptions and values do not disappear when research and data are brought to bear on questions of ethics and policy, and they inevitably shape the way such research and data are conducted and employed.

          • February 18, 2016 at 7:19 am

            Though I don’t have a comment about whether social justice is a science (I haven’t read enough on this specific argument yet), I’m afraid I have to point out that science itself is rooted in certain a priori assumptions and value judgements. The short version I have heard from several philosophers of science could be summed up as:

            To begin with, there are values embedded in the practice of science itself: testability, accuracy, generality, simplicity, and the like. Then there are the many moral dimensions of science practice, both in terms of ethical issues internal to science (fraud) and of the much broader ones affecting society at large (societal consequences of research and technological advances). Then there is the issue of diversity, where until very recently, and in many fields still today, science has largely been an affair conducted by white males. […]

            This quote came from the Rationally Speaking podcast. I do not think I am qualified to lay out a whole argument about this because I am not an expert in the philosophy of science, but the way I understand it is that science as a method is based on a number of assumptions about the world (not unreasonable assumptions, because science works, at least it totally appears to) such as that reality is observable, testable, and is represented objectively. There are also ways in which science could lead to all of the conclusions we see and yet be entirely wrong, such as if our universe was a simulation or there existed an extremely deceptive god. As far as I know, there’s no compelling reason to think either of those two things is true, but those were examples I’d heard to explain how science itself is based on some a priori assumptions.

            I don’t think I could get into a deeper discussion of this because I barely have a lay understanding of this philosophy, but I’m relying on the expert consensus as I do with other things I don’t understand. I couldn’t explain quantum physics either, but I trust that Deepak Chopra is wrong because every relevant expert (read: actual physicist) says he is misusing “quantum” every time he says it. In this case, I’m trusting philosophers of science because that seems to be the relevant expertise.

            I apologize for dragging this thread on even longer.

          • February 19, 2016 at 11:37 pm

            Shortest response yet: yes.

          • February 16, 2016 at 7:48 pm

            Although: if you find the evidence supports a position that you yourself don’t hold, why are you in favour of teaching it but not holding it yourself?

          • February 16, 2016 at 9:57 pm

            It’s a bit like a science teacher who is a creationist but teaches evolution anyway because it is her job, but my answer is a bit more nuanced. In part, I recognize that my positions could be wrong but I can’t really change the way I feel about certain things, and if I taught that to students I couldn’t tell if it was because I was actually right or just thought I was right. In the immigration example, I’m pretty well convinced that my position is better for Korean society and I am basing that position on evidence (eg. from history). However, when I look at society today I am seeing a shift (which, to be honest has a lot of things I view very negatively). Even if my position would have turned out to be “right” in the long run, society is going in a different direction and I should be preparing students to live in the actual world they will inhabit. While I do think the evidence supports my position, I know I might be wrong about that and I should definitely be reflecting things in my classroom that would benefit my students after they leave my class. It’s not that I find that the evidence supports a position I don’t hold, but realize that pushing against shifting values in my students would more to my benefit than to theirs.

          • February 16, 2016 at 9:30 pm

            Jay — You assert that, in your opinion, some of your opinions are wrong. That’s the same as saying that some of your opinions are not among your opinions.

          • February 16, 2016 at 10:43 pm

            No I said “I recognize that my opinions are certainly biased and may be entirely wrong” because as a skeptic I have learned that people are often wrong about what they believe, and as a person I would therefore also be wrong about many things that I believe. I have been proven wrong before and often learn that a fact I thought I knew was actually incorrect. It would be foolish to assume that everything I think I know is definitely true. Opinions are often based on facts and could turn out to be factually wrong. I also know, from being a skeptic, just how many cognitive biases plague human thinking. While I can be aware of some of them, I realize there are a lot of “unknown unknowns” where I do not know what I do not know. I’m actually very confused about how you got the interpretation of “some of my opinions are not my opinions” from that.

          • February 18, 2016 at 3:20 am

            Dan

            There is also a not-insignificant subset of liberal/progressive skeptics who (quite mistakenly, in my opinion) insist social justice is “science” and therefore objectively true (e.g. AlexanderZ in this thread), despite the fact that it is a philosophical position rooted in certain a priori assumptions and value judgements.

            May I remind you that I consider only the most basic premise of SJ (i.e. that people should be treated/considered equally unless there are good reasons not to) to be scientifically solid, not any of its practical implications which may be correct, wrong, or neither and depend entirely on the moral worldview of the person.

            Secondly,

            it is a philosophical position rooted in certain a priori assumptions

            …which applies equally well to science itself. Science is nothing but the philosophy of nature. We have no way of knowing whether something is an absolute truth, only whether it can accurately predict future observations. In that sense natural sciences are better than the humanities (which all have a distinct liberal bias for the above reason) but not by much.

  2. February 15, 2016 at 3:30 am —

    The problem here is that few ‘values shared by our society at large’ are really universal, and unfortunately most people (including most educators) are generally convinced that their values are the right ones, regardless of what they are.

    Speaking as someone who was ideologically derailed for years because a high school teacher inappropriately brought his libertarian philosophy into the classroom, I squirm at the idea of giving teachers much leeway in introducing their politics into mostly unrelated subjects.

    Here’s the thing. Most people of most political stripes would consider what they believe in to be ‘treating all people with fairness, respect, dignity, and generosity’. The definition is such an uncontroversial platitude that using it in this way to describe social justice risks being called out for playing a motte and bailey game. Social justice isn’t only ‘treating all people with fairness, respect, dignity, and generosity’; it is a complex, highly developed, and constantly evolving political philosophy that defines things like fairness, respect, dignity, and generosity in particular ways and sets up a strict normative framework for how people should go about doing them.

    I think we have all had the experience of running across people whose passion for activism and enacting change outweighed their grasp of the facts and arguments underlying their position. Not everyone is equally qualified or suited to teach students political philosophy, and this includes teachers. Perhaps we are better off encouraging teachers to embody their philosophies rather than bring them into their lessons, and leave students to learn the finer points of political philosophy from the experts on Tumblr.

    • February 15, 2016 at 5:00 am —

      I was about to write a long reply to address your points, but I realized a post that I’m working on says essentially the same things I was going to write. I’ll change my posting order and post that one next.

      I will say, though, that whether a teacher is directly teaching political philosophy or not, there are implicit values within our curricula that we cannot escape. We can however consider them carefully and make efforts to direct our classroom values to help students function in our society as opposed to making them think more like us.

      Your point about social justice being complex is totally valid (my university teaching program specifically focused on SJ), Knaier gave an oversimplified definition because her talk was so short, and I quoted her just to help lead into my actual argument. I did not mean to imply that such an “uncontroversial platitude” reflected the entirety of it, just to help frame the question I quoted.

  3. February 15, 2016 at 5:45 pm —

    Social Justice is science. The idea that all people should be treated equally is the most basic of null hypotheses. The onus is on those that want preferential treatment for some groups to explain why should those groups get more than others.

    Therefore, teaching Social Justice in its purest form (i.e. without getting into how an already unequal world should be fixed to be more equal) is no different from teaching the foundations of science.

    • February 15, 2016 at 11:06 pm —

      But this unhelpfully sidesteps the problem, which is that basically everyone thinks their politics do this.

      • February 16, 2016 at 2:13 am —

        Everyone thinks their worldview is also the true one. Doesn’t mean that geocentric astronomy and creationism have any right to be taught.

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