Becoming a Teacher: Issues in Secondary Teaching

By Justin Dillon; Meg Maguire | Go to book overview
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Social justice in schools:
engaging with equality

Louise Archer


In this chapter I suggest that an understanding of social justice can be a useful tool for teachers who want to work in equitable ways and who wish to foster a classroom environment that is experienced as 'fair' and respectful by pupils from diverse backgrounds. Indeed, teachers are also required to have due regard for equality issues in line with the National Curriculum inclusion statement. In this chapter, I illustrate how the concept of social justice can help us to analyse and address unequal power relations within schools and classrooms and can help professionals to become more attuned to 'hidden' inequalities.

What do we mean by 'social justice'?

The term 'social justice' is increasingly being used by academics as a means for engaging with issues of inequality although it has perhaps been less commonly employed within policy and practitioner circles. In one sense, the notion of social justice is just another way of talking about and engaging with issues of equality and 'fairness'. Indeed, we could ask why it is even necessary, given the proliferation of terminology within this area in recent years (for example, social exclusion/inclusion; social equity; equal opportunities; equality and diversity; equality of outcomes). However, as I argue below, the strength of 'social justice' is that it provides a robust and comprehensive toolkit for engaging with inequalities due primarily to the ways in which it has been meticulously theorized.

So how might we conceptualize 'social justice'? In her book, Action for


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Becoming a Teacher: Issues in Secondary Teaching
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