Ever since that class a while back where our first discussion on social justice and cultural diversity issues in the classroom surfaced, I have not been able to get the topic out of my mind. The trouble though, has been that I have been unable to figure out how to put my thoughts into words. So please bear with me while I attempt…
To start, I looked up the words equity and equality on Dictionary.com. This is what I found: Equity
– 1.) “The state, quality, or ideal of being just, impartial, and fair;” 2.) “Something that is just, impartial, and fair,” and “from Latin aequits
, from aequus:
even, fair.” For Equality
– 1.) “The state or quality of being equal;” 2.) “Mathematics. A statement, usually an equation, that one thing equals another,” and "from Latin aequlits
, from aequlis
So to me, it sums up something like this: equity is how we
treat people, while equality is how we perceive people. Can we, as people, ‘act out’ one of those without the other? Oh yes, definitely. And that really scares me. Do I treat all people fairly and justly? Do I perceive all people equal? I think so. I might slip every once in a while, but I always feel like crap when I do notice a discrepancy in my behaviour. There are always going to be people that I do not see eye to eye with (like, say Mr. G.W. Bush), but that does not mean that I need to treat them less then equitably or perceive them as less than equal as a fellow human being. Overall, I think that when I do meet someone new or when I talk about/with someone or enter any form of a relationship with someone; I approach them equitably and view them as an equal, even when we might be on completely different pages.
Now, back to social justice in the classroom (and just to confirm, I feel that cultural diversity is integral to social justice). Social justice is about treating people as equals while truly feeling that they are equal (so, not just acting). Social justice, to me, has its foundations in this: no matter who another person is, what they do, where they come from or what they believe in, that person is equal to you and that you treat them like that. There is a huge difference between equity and equality that is so clear to me, but the line between the two is so gray and so fine. So then, with that in mind, how do you teach equity and equality? And how do you model them? Especially with so much going on in the media that always has one group of people pointedly against another. How can we teach it when everyone sees the United States of America trying to make everyone else bow down to what they believe? They are not being equitable or viewing others as their equals. What about in the war between the Israelis and Palestinians? Are they treating each other equitably? Are they treating each other as equals? Right now, the only answer I can come up with is for me… and it is that
teaching social justice issues, inclusive with cultural diversity, in the classroom is going to come straight from my heart. And it is hopefully going to be about providing my students with enough tools that they too can learn about and want to treat people with equity and view them as equals in everything that they do.
So any thoughts on where I should go next?