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102083 DIVERSITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE AND LEARNING 2H

ASSESSMENT 2 PART B

JADE CUNNINGHAM 17999508

Critical Personal Reflection

Teachers of today must implement social justice perspectives in their pedagogy to

support students facing issues of equity and diversity in the classroom and beyond. With

inequalities and power imbalances impacting upon students learning experience it is

important for teachers to address these issues through the implementation of social justice

perspectives. The pedagogical theories of reflexivity and critical pedagogy allow teachers to

implement social justice into teaching practices and enhance the learning experience of

students. Applying teaching strategies that are appropriate for individual students allows

teachers to apply social justice perspectives and address equity and diversity issues. Teachers

must implement social justice perspectives into teaching practice in order to address the

issues of power, equity and diversity that exist within classrooms.

It is critical that teachers implement social justice perspectives in their teaching

practice as students are significantly impacted by issues of power, equity and diversity in their

negotiation of everyday life and learning in the classroom. Classrooms are dynamic places

with enormous diversity that should celebrated and integrated into teaching practices. This

diversity raises significant issues of power and equity that need to be addressed through social

justice perspectives. Agarwal, Epstein, Oppenheim, Oyler and Sonu (2010) inform

understanding of the importance of teachers commitments to social justice as structural

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inequalities in our society are embedded within our schools, effecting the outcomes of

students learning and schooling experience. Students are substantially effected within the

classroom by issues related to power, equity and diversity including access to resources,

academic achievement and attitudes towards learning.

Teachers must address racial, socioeconomic and cultural differences in their

classroom as each individual student is effected by issues of equity and diversity in a multitude

of ways (Obidah & Howard, 2005). Hammond (2017) identifies the importance of applying

social justice principles for teaching as students require equal opportunities in order to

receive a deep understanding of both curriculum content and the world around them through

critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration. Principles of social justice education is

supported by both the New South Wales Department of Education (NSW DET) and the

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) through Multicultural

Education Policy and the Melbourne Declaration of Educational Goals for Young Australians

(New South Wales Department of Education, 2016; Australian Curriculum, Assessment and

Reporting Authority, 2016). Policy documents provide an important framework for teachers

to address issues of equity and diversity through social justice principles. It is extremely

important for teachers to implement social justice principles in their teaching practice and

can be supported through pedagogical theory.

The pedagogical theory of reflexivity assists teachers in applying social justice

perspectives to address issues of power, equity and diversity. Reflexivity involves the critical

recognition and reflection of language, assumptions and social practices in relation to yourself

as the teacher and your students (Ferfolja, Jones Diaz & Ullman, 2015). Teachers must identify

and modify their own use of language, assumptions or practices that perpetuate the

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discourses surrounding equity and diversity as these impact on students learning and

experience. This reflective process allows teachers to analyse and evaluate ways to address

issues of equity and diversity to facilitate student learning (Tilley & Taylor, 2013). Taking a

reflexivity approach to pedagogy allows teachers to approach power, equity and diversity

issues within the classroom and wider society in a way that enhances students’ critical

thinking, awareness and experience of these issues.

Critical pedagogy theory centres focus on the knowledge of power, equity and diversity

in order to enhance teaching and learning for students. Critical pedagogy allows teachers to

identify power and privilege in the classroom and wider society to deconstruct the dominant

discourse that surrounds these issues of equity and diversity (Ferfolja et al., 2015). Teachers

must be aware of the power relationships that are reproduced through their pedagogy and

the discourse this presents to the students (Ferfolja et al., 2015). The practice of critical

pedagogy in the classroom enables the deconstruction of power imbalances that may exist

between the teachers and students in order to create an equitable environment. The critical

pedagogy theory in action allows teachers and students to deconstruct discourse and

celebrate equity and diversity in their classroom to enhance students’ experience of learning.

Teaching practice and pedagogy must apply strategies in order to address issues of

equity and diversity to enhance students experience in the classroom and wider society. Tilley

and Taylor (2013) explain the importance of social justice education strategies incorporating

curriculum, pedagogy and policy in order to address issues of equity and diversity.

Differentiated instruction is an egalitarian approach to addressing power and diversity within

the classroom. Personal teaching practice such as differentiated instruction is applied in the

classroom in order to allow students equal access to information in a way that promotes social

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justice (Valiandes, 2015). In order to achieve an equitable classroom students must receive

the same knowledge in a multitude of ways that is effective for each individual student.

Classroom examples of applying differentiated instruction can include student driven group

work. Gifted and talented students are given the opportunity to lead discussions, whilst

supporting students in the class with a diverse range of abilities (Valiandes, 2015). In a

geography classroom setting differentiated instruction through the use of group work can be

an important pedagogy strategy to celebrate and incorporate students’ cultural diversity in a

safe and equitable environment. Resources such as a culturally responsive board game can

promote equity and diversity through students’ collaboration and critical thinking.

Differentiated instruction is a supported teaching practice for equity and diversity by the New

South Wales Department of Education Multicultural Policy. Objective 1.5 of the Multicultural

Policy identifies a differentiated curriculum as a necessary focus of teaching practice in order

to address the learning needs and wellbeing of culturally diverse students (New South Wales

Department of Education, 2016). Teaching practice must address issues and implement

strategies for equity and diversity in the classroom.

Teachers must implement social justice principles in their teaching practice and

pedagogy to address issues of power, equity and diversity that operate in schools and the

wider community. Incorporating theories of reflexivity and critical pedagogy, applied through

differentiated instruction allows students to deconstruct and address dominant discourses

surrounding power and diversity in schools. Creating an environment of equality that

celebrates diversity enhances students learning experience and outcomes. Critical thinking,

collaboration and reflection are key concepts for students to acknowledge and celebrate

cultural diversity, enhancing students’ experiences of school. Teachers must be aware of the

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power relation they have with students and the way in which the use and address discourses.

The social justice issues of equity and diversity must be address through teaching strategies

and practice to support and enhance students learning and experience within the classroom

and community.

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REFERENCE LIST

Agarwal, R., Epstein, S., Oppenheim, R, Oyler, C. & Sonu, D. (2010). From ideal to

practice and back again: beginning teachers teaching for social justice. Journal of Teacher

Education, 61(3), 237-247. doi: 10.1177/0022487109354521

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2016). Student

diversity. ACARA. Retrieved from

http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/student-diversity

Ferfolja, T., Jones Diaz, C. & Ullman, J. (2015). Understanding Sociological Theory for

Educational Practices. Australia, Cambridge University Press.

New South Wales Department of Education. (2016). Multicultural education policy.

NSW DET. Retrieved from

https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/policies/multicultural-education-policy

Obidah, J.E & Howard, T.C. (2005). Preparing teachers for 'Monday morning' in the

urban school classroom. Journal of Teacher Education, 56(3), 248-255. doi:

10.1177/0022487105275920

Tilley, S & Taylor, L. (2013). Understanding curriculum as lived: teaching for social

justice and equity goals. Race Ethnicity and Education, 16(3), 406-429. doi:

10.1080/13613324.2011.645565

Valiandes, S. (2015). Evaluating the impact of differentiated instruction on literacy

and reading in mixed ability classrooms: quality and equity dimensions of education

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effectiveness. Studies in Educational Evaluation 45, 17-26. doi:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stueduc.2015.02.005

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