Teaching is a Social Justice Act

A teacher’s classroom can be and is a vehicle for the change we hope to see in society. The thing is, that vehicle can turn incredibly right for positive change, or it can be the cause of a major N1 accident for negative change.

I recently attended Cape Town’s Pride Festival – Mardi Gras. The event itself is not really what I am trying to talk about right now. I just happened to meet (was introduced to) some amazing human beings at the festival where some enlightening conversations were sparked.

Some context – it is normal that the moment that I mention that I am a teacher, people always want to know, who do I teach, where and what is the experience like. This time at the festival, it being a Pride 🏳️‍🌈 festival, of course the question of my sexuality came up – I am heterosexual (straight) and I really enjoy surrounding myself with people who are different from me, I believe it grows you as a person, and enlightens you about the world and experiences are shared through storytelling.

Anyways I found myself explaining to my new acquaintances the difficulties but also the awesomeness of teaching. Some of the things we reflected on were the importance of equality and inclusivity. I explained that I have learners who have sexist and homophobic tendencies. And as a teacher, although it is not always the curriulum subject matter of the day, it is important to me to address these issues with my learners and hopefully mold them into inclusive human beings of society.

I have this amazing (in my opinion) hoodie, with the word LOVE printed in pride colours on my chest. I remember the first time I wore that to work, it sparked conversations and curiosity in some of the learners that I teach. Mini debates were held about God/Religion as expected. It is not easy having a debate with a child about something this deep, whereas a part of you wants to educate and the other wants to cancel them but it was good. I might not have transformed minds or created social activists yet, but I am sure that I am planting and watering seeds as best as I can. I think that is part of what being a “social justice acting teacher” is.

The festival was a lot of fun. It is something I wish my learners could experience in terms of seeing the beauty of people in different forms, shapes, sizes, and colours with zero prejudice, just acceptance.

I was asked, because I am straight and at the pride festival, does that make me an ally. I know that I am in support of respecting and loving people as they are people. That is the behaviour that I want to mirror to my learners at every opportunity possible. In my position, I am a little bit responsible for the type of learner that goes out into the world post-matric. So, yes, alliship it is. Not just for the LGBTQIA+ community, but for anyone in a marginalised community as best as I can because I want my vehicle of a classroom to go incredibly right and not cause an N1 accident.

Thank you for reading. Much love and light ✨️


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