The schools must operate to provide benefit to all the sections of the society in a just manner. This is relevant for the Australian societies as there are indigenous people who have suffered in the past decades. They were not able to become part of the development that has taken place in this country. This has been due to poor educational levels as there are many indigenous people who have not completed their basic schooling. Therefore, it is imperative to develop schools which are just and aim to provide education for all the people in a society. In this essay, the importance of remaining social just for the schools have been explored in the Australian context. It is highlighted that it is not necessary that socially just practices, policies and pedagogies are always present at schools. Thus, the schools must develop an equitable environment of learning for all the students.
There are students who are from disadvantaged and complex backgrounds which hinders them to access the schools. In Australia, the aboriginals and the Torres strait Islander people have been marginalized and they have poor levels of education. Many of them have not been able to access the schools due to their disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. For schools to remain socially just it is important there should be equal distribution of the opportunities for entering the schools. The schools as social institutions have powerful role in reducing inequalities prevailing in the Australia societies. These can create learning environment where the students from the disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds are able to transform their lives by developing potential to pursue their dreams.
A socially just can empower the disadvantaged and disfranchised youth as in the case of Australian aboriginals (Robinson, & Smyth, 2016). They can be empowered by the schools and educational institutions in a positive manner to remain involved in their communities. The schools can grant the students from the disadvantaged background an ability to speak and develop themselves. This can be done by the creation of safe spaces so that they are able to explore their own educational potential, are able to confidently speak of the issues related to the race, sexuality, politics, colonization, gender, class or religion. Schools with the social justice focus are also encouraged to engage the young people attend the needs of their community. With this empowerment, the schools enable the young people to develop a socially critical and a just educational setting were the disadvantaged students would be able to overcome from their disadvantage status and become an important part of society. Therefore, a socially just schools enables to have the courage to work towards a more equitable world.
The schools can become the social institutions of justice by developing practices which help in giving more attention to the educational and learning needs of the disadvantaged young people. The schools must function in the best interests of the marginalized young people (Turhan, 2010). Thereby, the prevalence of discrimination at the school premises by the students and staff of the non-indigenous communities must be checked and prohibited at all the levels. This will help in creating learning spaces where equality is promoted at all the levels and the students from the advantaged or the disadvantaged background are given equal focus by the educators. Such steps would be helpful in creating socially just schools and hence allow the students to develop their potential of become a contributing member to their society.
Further, the schools can act as a source of spreading messages about social change. This is because with their educational practices they are able to communicate the ideas of social justice and equality to all the members of the community (Lopez-Cobar, 2017). This helps the people in the community understand the prevailing inequality and therefore steps are taken to remove them. By acting in the best interest of the disadvantaged young people the schools are able to provide the best opportunities to such students so that they are able to realize their educational potential and set examples of themselves for the others in the aboriginal communities. The schools need to develop such policies which are according to the learning needs of the students who are from aboriginal communities in Australia. For instance, special focus can be given to their cultural learning so that they remain connected to their cultures. This will also help in reducing the dropping out rate of the students as they will be able to learn about their cultures and are able to educationally engage young people.
The culture of the schools is very complex, and these depict the relationships between the power structures, culture and pedagogy. The prevailing privatization of the schools where the teacher quality and the teacher development are being dominated by the technical rationalities of the School Improvement and the School Effectiveness movements. Such movements have led to the promotion of social injustices that have transformed the schools into oppressive, undemocratic and inequitable institutions (Lopez-Cobar, 2017).
The schools are forced to engage in competition in the education industry and there is more stress on academic achievements (Robinson, & Smyth, 2016). This has led the schools in focussing more the students who are good in academics or in other non-academic arenas like music, sports and dance. The emergence of such distinctions between the academically inclined students and the ones who are seen at risk of failing creates social injustices for the disadvantage students coming from the aboriginal backgrounds (Robinson, Down, & Smyth, 2018). These students are deemed at risk and these create social injustices as they are not able to realize their educational potential. The public schooling is considered as the quick fix for dealing with the social injustices at the private schools. However, these have been found to be non-sustainable options. This is because, the public schooling is subjected to changes in the government policies, staff quotas, funding cuts and restructuring (Lopez-Cobar, 2017). All such factors cause insecurities in the schooling systems which leads to the streaming out of the nonperforming students who are at risk of failing. Such students are considered to be lacking in self-motivation in improving their lives, are labelled as disfranchised and disengaged. Such instances drive the young people to develop negative experiences from the social injustices being received from the schools (Robinson, Down, & Smyth, 2018).
The school culture therefore represents the prevailing social values in the communities where such students are streamed out so that the schools are able to maintain their effectiveness (Lopez-Cobar, 2017). The staff and the management at the school must demonstrate a culture where the students from the disadvantaged communities are provided with opportunities where they are able to develop themselves according to the needs of their own personalities and their communities. The schools have important role in creating cultures within their institutions for promoting the values of social injustice and equality for all. When the teachers are trained to upheld the equality values during the classroom teaching a clear message is sent that there is equality in providing education to all the students irrespective of their social or economic status in the society (Guenther, et al 2020).
The aboriginal students in Australia have been noted to have higher drop-out rates (Dreise, et al 2016) This has been pointed to many reasons. They are from socially disadvantaged backgrounds where they are not able to support their education. The private schools are costly for these people whereas the public schools are not aligned with their distinct needs. The aboriginals want to have an inclusive education system where their cultural values are also upheld so that the students are not alienated from their histories and backgrounds. Further, the labelling of aboriginal students as disengaged and at risk of failing drives them to drop out of the schools. There are aboriginal young people who have engaged in street crimes as they have not been able to become part of the society by getting proper education in the schools. Therefore, schools’ functions to assimilate the disadvantaged young people back into the society. However, this is the responsibility of the schools to maintain a socially just environment where the principles of equality is upheld and this must be degraded with the ongoing competition over the student’s grade and achievement in academics and other popular non-academic fields .
The socially just pedagogies are distinctly political, and these must be acknowledged as such. With this pedagogy, the teachers serve as change agents in the society as do the students. The agenda is to change the prevailing social inequalities by equipping the marginalized and disadvantaged young people with knowledge and skills (Breunig, 2016). This will allow them to develop future strong leaders who are able to guide the whole community and are able to succeed. The socially just pedagogies is important at the present times for eradicating the social inequalities (Zembylas, & Bozalek, 2017). The teacher has the most important role for the students in equipping them with skills, behaviour and knowledge which are needed to transform the societies into a place where the social justice values can flourish.
The social justice education aims for shifting the focus from the problems of cultural diversity to the issues of social justice. Thereby, allowing the social change and an activism which is central to the vision of learning as well as teaching. The efforts of social justice by the schools must join with the other levels of an educational system as an organization in the private and the public sector. It must also work in collaboration with the communities to provide improvement in the educational opportunities and hence address the prevailing life realities of students (Breunig, 2016). This will have a positive impact on their lives as they will be able to connect their learnings with their realities of life and hence bring upon transformation in their own lives.
Socially just pedagogies have to be incorporated into the educational systems. This is necessary so that not only the disadvantaged young people but also the people with disabilities are able to receive education in a socially just manner (Bozalek, et al 2016). A socially just pedagogy recognizes the distinctive needs of the learners by exploring the relationship in the teaching techniques and social cultures so as to ensure better learning outcomes for the learners.
These social injustices can be theorized. As per the theory of Karl Marx, the most important problem in the societies is that of socio-economic inequality (Breunig, 2016). This is believing that the social justice is essentially based on the economic conditions of the individuals. The neo-Marxists, the liberatory pedagogies, social justice education and the education for the democratic citizen are theories and concepts which render multiple, varied and contested terminologies for describing the critical pedagogy particularly for the social injustice (Breunig, 2016). The schools are constructed on the basis of cultural, social, pedagogical and linguistics interactions. Therefore, the functioning of the schools are always impacted by the social, economic, cultural and political norms and dynamics which are prevailing in the societies. And therefore, even the schools, teachers along with the students, communities and societies engage in oppressive practices which depict social injustices (Breunig, 2016).
A socially just classroom must be able to demonstrate a curriculum and a classroom practice which is based on the lives of the students and remains critical in its approach towards the world in a hopeful manner. These curriculum and practices must adopt a pro-justice, academically engaging, activists, visionary, kind, joyful and in a culturally competent manner (Breunig, 2016). The classroom practices must be shaped around the students’ lives the educative aims of the teaching practice, the context of the classroom and the institutions for constructing learning experiences for the students that are upholding social justice value. The schools can provide positive mentorship and training programs for the teachers with a focus on social justice.
Therefore, it is concluded that the role of the schools is much more than imparting lessons to the students. Its roles are also to promote the social justice values by demonstrating equality in the classroom teaching and the pedagogies being practiced at the school by the staff and the management. The schools have to free themselves of the negative impacts of the society and politics by focussing on the individual needs of educations.
Bozalek, V., Bayat, A., Mitchell, V., Motala, S., & Gachago, D. (2016). Diffracting socially just pedagogies through stained glass. South African Journal of Higher Education, 30(3), 201-218.
Breunig, M. (2016). Critical and social justice pedagogies in practice. Encyclopaedia of educational philosophy and theory. doi, 10, 978-981.
Dreise, T., Milgate, G., Perrett, B., & Meston, T. (2016). Indigenous school attendance: Creating expectations that are ‘really high’and ‘highly real’. Retrieved from https://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=policyinsights
Guenther, J., Ober, R., Osborne, S., & Williamson-Kefu, M. (2020). Enacting socially just and transformative education through classroom pedagogy. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 1-20.
Lopez-Cobar, R. (2017). The socially just school: Making spaces for youth to speak back by Smyth, J., Down, B., & McInerny, P. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, (182).
Robinson, J., & Smyth, J. (2016). Sent out’and Stepping Back In: stories from young people ‘placed at risk. Ethnography and education, 11(2), 222-236.
Robinson, J., Down, B., & Smyth, J. (2018). ‘Shaking up’neoliberal policy in schools: Looking for democratic alternatives in Jacinta’s satchel. Global Studies of Childhood, 8(4), 392-403.
Turhan, M. (2010). Social justice leadership: Implications for roles and responsibilities of school administrators. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 9, 1357-1361.
Zembylas, M., & Bozalek, V. (2017). Re-imagining socially just pedagogies in higher education: The contribution of contemporary theoretical perspectives. Education as Change, 21(2), 1-5.
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