Social Justice In Education Essay, Research Paper
Social Justice in Education
“Social Justice in Education” by R. W. Connell discusses the role of education in society and the implications that social justice issues have on education. Connell begins by establishing that education and social justice can be examined separately yet they are inescapably linked through the social medium of their implementation. “Education concerns schools, colleges and universities, whose business is to pass knowledge on to the next generation. Social justice is about income, employment, pensions or physical assets like housing.”(Connell, 1993) Three points validating the equal importance of social justice and the education system to people of all delineations are: 1.) in Western society public schools are key forums of social interaction and comprise some of the largest social institutions 2.) educational institutions are highly economic bodies and have become “major public assets” (Connell, 1993) 3.) teaching becomes a vehicle by which society is ultimately determined and has a great influence over society’s morality. Connell describes the meaning of justice in education as being “a question of fairness in distribution… equality.”(Connell, 1993) “Justice cannot be achieved by distributing the same… standard good to… all social classes.”(Connell, 1993) By stating this, Connell summarizes that in the attempt to achieve equality, unequal means must be employed.
The implications for teaching presented by Connell’s article are immense. The concept of equality in education and the equality of access to education are matters that are determined by the social constructs of the society in which we live. The notion of equality in education means that educators must approach all material and subject matter with a premise of unbiased predetermination. Music, math, science, fine arts, English, Japanese, history, etc… must all be considered on a par. Our current educational system does not treat all subjects as equal in our public education system. The stereotypical reading, writing and arithmetic (primary subjects) take precedence over the fine arts and like subjects (secondary subjects). Social justice criteria as presented in this article, establish that economic variables are a means of determination for favouritism within the educational institution. Where the primary subjects receive ensured funding, the secondary subjects receive funding when deemed viable. This creates inequality at the very base of the institution itself. The result is degradation to all facets of the educational system.
“The moral quality of education is inevitably affected by the moral character of educational institutions. If the school system is dealing unjustly… The quality of education for all… is degraded.” (Connell, 1993)
I sometimes wonder why administrators and educators, the facilitators of education, cannot realize the reasons behind the success and failures of our education system. I have often heard educators and scholars refer to the greatness of the Renaissance and Romantic eras in world history and their frustrations due to the loss of the benefits of those times. The secondary subjects during those times of grandeur were not secondary, but they were primary and equal subjects to all others; therefore, the benefits of equalization of subjects importance is essential in achieving those past benefits as well as a highly developed society.
Connell presents an intriguing argument and concludes with several ideas. “Individual equality is the condition, not the goal, of a just social order.”(Connell, 1993) Education which favours is a “corrupt education” (Connell, 1993) and “social justice is… fundamental to what good education is about.” (Connell, 1993) Finally Connell states that good means different things to different people and “justice cannot be achieved by distributing the same… standard good to… all social classes.” (Connell, 1993)
Connell, R. W. “Social Justice in Education”. In Schools and Social Justice. (Toronto: Our Schools/Our Selves Education Foundation, 1993) pp. 11-19.