Essay on Investigation of a Social Justice Issue
Number of words: 2452
As educators, it is essential to comprehend that educational success is greatly influenced by social contexts such as ethnicity, gender, social class and geographical location that an individual child cannot control. The notion that educational success is achieved through effort and hard work as suggested in meritocracy should not be upheld by educators because this can affect their professional practices in handling challenges relating to social contexts of the child. Additionally, it is necessary to understand the complexity and influence of socio-cultural contexts or social structures, as well as how they impact classroom and children in early childhood education and care. Notably, there are many social justice issues that arises from the identified social structures. Early childhood education teachers need to have sociological understandings in order to work towards social justice for the diverse students. In relation to that, this presentation focuses on racial discrimination as a social justice issue arising from ethnicity.
Identify, define, and discuss the social structure
As noted, presentation focuses on racial discrimination as a social justice issue arising from ethnicity. Ethnicity can be defined as a multifaceted social construct that influenced a group social relations, as well as personal identity. Ethnic classification systems, ethnic identity, the assignment implications of an ethnic group, and many other related factors are place, context, and time specific. Australia has a chequered and complex issues regarding ethnicity and race. It is evident that the history include both discrimination and violence, which means that the consequences still impact some people today. For instance, The Stolen Generation is one historical event that still affect the Australian people today. This is based on the fact that the Indigenous Australians children were forcefully separated from their parents through government policies. Victoria was the first state in Australia to pass the laws that authorised the removal of Aboriginal children from their parents (Healey, 2009). It was a period of major racial discrimination, which has left its impacts to date. Similar policies of removal of children were adopted by some other states after Victoria State had implemented them. The children, as well as the future generation, and even the grandchildren of the Stolen Generation are affected as they will forever feel the impacts of disconnection from their families (Healey, 2009). Therefore, it would be fair to state that the historical events included discriminating and violence which was mainly from the ethnicity perspective.
Culture and ethnicity affects the way people construct their own identities, as well as the way they see others. The extent of the situation depends on how people are positioned in ethnicity structure. For example, if one asks an Indigenous Australian whether ethnicity is a factor that matters, the chances that they will affirm to that is always very high. On the other hand, if one asks the white Australians the same question, they would majorly speak without considering ethnicity as an important element (Maher & Smith, 2014).
There is no doubt that education has played a significant role in supporting and enhancing greater celebration and awareness of cultural diversity to eliminate the negative impacts of ethnicity. In Australia, cultural diversity is considered and mandated in the national goals for schooling (MCEETYA, 2019). The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration commits to the values of justice, equity, and democracy, as well as development of informed and active citizens who understands and appreciates the Australia’s cultural diversity (Maher & Smith, 2014).
How ethnicity impacts social justice for children and families in early education and care
Notably, ethnicity as a social construct affects social justice for families in early education and care in various ways ranging from education to labour market. There is a growing concern between the gap that is evident in education, as well as labour markets and other interconnected aspects as a result of ethnicity and differences in cultural backgrounds (Maestri, 2016). In Australia, children from Aboriginal backgrounds have faced racial discrimination as a result of the ethnicity social construct. Sometimes children may not feel included in certain learning environments and this situation can affect both their academic performance and personal development. In some environments, there are lack of cultural competency among the stakeholders a situation that has led to lack of appropriate mitigation measures and adaptation strategies that can help in eliminating the negative impacts of ethnicity.
Children in early childhood education setting with stakeholders who do not value or recognise diversity may not be confident and involved learners (Maestri, 2016). According to EYLF, children are confident and involved learners. In relation to that, they adapt, as well as transfer what they have learnt from one context (aspect) to another. In cases where ethnicity has negative impacts, the children as well as their parents may be affected because of lack of sense of becoming, belonging, and being. For instance, in a situation where a children population is more heterogeneous, all teachers need to adapt their teaching strategies in ways that recognise diversity. This can mean using differentiation strategies. Not all educators can employ appropriate differentiation strategies to eliminate, which can lead to unequal learning and peer academic performance among the diverse population.
On the other hand, it is essential to recognise that the diversity brought by ethnicity can enrich the learners. According to Maestri (2016), as long as the cultures of different communities are relevant and not overlapping with that of other groups, it can help in enriching all the involved cultural groups. For instance, currently almost all learning institutions in Australia recognise Indigenous education. Therefore, ethnic diversity can enhance social justice where children learn through contributing to greater creativity and enhancement of cultural awareness (Maestri, 2016).
Identify and apply relevant sociological theory as a means to explain and address the social justice issue
In education, sociology allows better comprehension and understanding of socio-cultural influences or impacts on young people, children, and their families, as well as the ways in which the influences determine the engagement of the students and the possible education outcome.
Sociological theory for educational practices such as functionalist theory helps in understanding ways in which universal education can help in serving the need of the community. It is also applicable in addressing the racial discrimination, which is a social justice issue identified from ethnicity social construct. For instance, it can solve the racial discrimination issue through ensuring that there is equality in education irrespective of one’s background (Miller, 2016).
Since the theory focuses on understanding the social differences that makes some children perform better than others, it can help in identifying the gaps such as racial discrimination that affects performance of Indigenous children, as well as others children from various backgrounds.
The theory also helps in addressing the racial discrimination issue through questioning whether the education system provides opportunities for every child to succeed. This can ensure that there are inclusive practices within the learning institutions to support various learners irrespective of their diverse backgrounds.
In other words, the sociological theories for education such as functionalist theory addresses the inequalities that are evident in various education systems through questioning their ability to be inclusive and meritocratic.
The theory also helps in understanding the unseen half, who are families, communities, and other interconnected stakeholder’s roles in ensuring equality, which in turn addresses the identified issues of racial discrimination (Ferfolja et al., 2018)
The role of ethics, reflection, and reflexive practice for educators in addressing the social justice issue
Educators are face with the task of addressing various social justice issues through understanding the role of ethics, as well as their reflection and reflective practices. As an educator, I understand that creating an inclusive learning environment is necessary for learning and achievement of social justice. Addressing racial discrimination, which a social justice issue arising from ethnicity requires the understanding and practice of ethics. As educators, we need to address the social justice issues within the learning institution with integrity, respect, democracy, social responsiveness, inclusivity, honesty, and cultural responsiveness among others.
In relation to children, the Code of Ethics requires the educator to act in their best interest. With regard to that, they need to respect the rights of children, as well as to recognise that children come from different communities with different practices. I would state that the understanding can reduce the impacts of racial discrimination through helping to create awareness among all the stakeholders such as children, families, and educators. The mutual understanding among the stakeholders can in turn ensure that racial discrimination is eradicated and cultural competency enhanced to reduce or to eradicate other interconnected challenges that may result from ethnicity perspective. As educators, the role of ethics also ensures the understanding that it is appropriate to work with children to help them recognise and understand that they share responsibilities to humanity and environment. Instilling such understanding in children can create a learning environment that is free of racial discrimination and its interconnected challenges such as bullying since children will be able to understand the need for diversity and its importance to their growth. Therefore, in my ethical practices relating to children, I will work to ensure that no child faces discrimination against the basis of ethnicity, gender, economic value, age, or ability. I will also ensure that I acknowledge children as active and competent learners who can work towards building an active community through mutual respect and understanding.
I also understand that ethics, reflection, and reflexive practice can help an educator to design and implement pedagogical approaches and strategies that are effective to the learning needs and strengths of learners from diverse cultural, religious, linguistic, as well as socio-economic backgrounds.
In relation to families, educators need to listen and to learn from families to build upon their competencies and strengths in supporting and nurturing their children. For instance, like in the issue of racial discrimination in schools, educators can listen as well as learn from the families of the children who are victims of the same to understand their competencies and strengths in dealing with the situation. This will help in ensuing learning and development of the child from strength-based approach.
In relation to colleagues, the code of ethics recommends that it is appropriate to encourage them to take actions in dealing with unethical behaviours such as racial discrimination within the learning institution. I also understand the need to build a collaborative relationships based on honesty, trust, and respect to enhance their participation in eradicating racial discrimination which is a social justice issue.
It is also necessary to understand that communities are important stakeholders in cases of social justice issues. Therefore, from the code of ethics perspective, I will ensure that I learn more about the diverse communities to develop the needed cultural competencies in handing social justice issues. Educators can connect with services, people, and agencies that are within the community in order to create more awareness on the challenges or racial discrimination. They can also promote shared aspirations and understandings among the communities to ensure children’s safety, wellbeing, and health in ECEC.
Potential strategies that may be implemented in ECEC that may address the social justice issue (Racial Discrimination).
Some of the strategies that can be implemented in ECEC to address the social justice issue (Racial discrimination) resulting from ethnicity are;
- Creation of a culturally inclusive environment through ensuring inclusive practices among all the stakeholders such as children, families, communities, and educators (Ford, 2016).
- Ensuring that the pedagogical approaches are designed in a way that recognises the rights, as well as the best interest of the child.
- Ensuring that Indigenous education is incorporated in the curriculum to enhance cultural competency (Hayes, 2018).
- Community partnerships are also necessary. ECEC professionals can partner with the community to address the issues of racial discrimination through ensuring that the services provided are inclusive to all stakeholders irrespective of their backgrounds (Ford, 2016).
- Another important strategy is ensuring professional development among the educators. This can be done through ensuring that code of ethics is adhered to in relation to families, children, community, and colleagues.
This presentation focused on racial discrimination as a social justice issue arising from ethnicity. Ethnicity can be defined as a multifaceted social construct that influenced a group social relations, as well as personal identity. Notably, ethnicity as a social construct affects social justice for families in early education and care in various ways ranging from education to labour market. There is a growing concern between the gap that is evident in education, as well as labour markets and other interconnected aspects as a result of ethnicity and differences in cultural backgrounds. Sociological theory for educational practices such as functionalist theory helps in understanding ways in which universal education can help in serving the need of the community. Educators are face with the task of addressing various social justice issues through understanding the role of ethics, as well as their reflection and reflective practices.
Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration (MCEETYA, 2019). https://docs-edu.govcms.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/pdf_accessible_-_alice_springs_mparntwe_education_declaration_acc_002.pdf
Early Childhood Australia (ECA) (2006). Code of Ethics.
Farrell, A. (2016). Ethical responsibilities in early childhood education and care (Chapter 9). In Understanding Early Childhood Education and Care in Australia. Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin.
Ferfolja, T., Jones Diaz, C., & Ullman, J. (2018). The unseen half: Theories for educational practices (Chapter 1). In T. Ferflja, C. Jones Diaz, & J. Ullman (Eds.), Understanding Sociological Theory for Educational Practices (pp. 1-18). Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge.
Ford, M. (2016). Cultural safety for Indigenous children in early childhood and care (Chapter 7). In Understanding Early Childhood Education and Care in Australia. Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin.
Hayes, D. (2018). Young people and school (Chapter 1 pp. 1-20). In Education, Change, and Society (4th edition). Melbourne: Oxford.
Healey, J. (2009). Stolen generations. Spinney Press.
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Maher, M., & Smith, S. (2014). Asylum seeker and refugee children belonging, being and becoming: The early childhood educator’s role. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 39(1). p. 22-29.
Miller, M.G. (2016). Diversity and inclusion in early childhood education and care (Chapter 8). In Understanding Early Childhood Education and Care in Australia. Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin.
Thomas, L.M. (2016). Professionalism for early childhood educators (Chapter 14). In Understanding Early Childhood Education and Care in Australia. Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin.