Social justice means taking a look at the world around us, acknowledging that not everyone has the same experiences, and finding where we can all be empowered to make meaningful, positive changes.
It is taking ownership of our own power to impact the world, and acknowledging that social justice movements are simply groups of people doing just that.
Regardless of where any of us fall on the political spectrum, it is essential—now more than ever—to help our children understand the history of social movements, to be able to think critically about why these movements took place and what they achieved, and engage with the world around them from multiple perspectives, not just their own limited personal experiences.
Here are resources appropriate for classroom and homeschooling use, or for any parent looking to for ways to address some of the tough social topics going on today:
Teaching for change believes that parents and teachers can “provide students the skills, knowledge and inspiration to be citizens and architects of a better world.” The organization provides teacher resources and professional development programs, ways for parents to organize and be better engaged with their local schools, a curated list of multicultural children’s books, and downloadable lesson plans about social justice and civil rights.
Created by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance offers a wealth of resources from lesson plans, multimedia perspectives (poems, infographics, essays, literature, cartoons, interviews, etc.) teaching strategies, film kits, and learning plans, as well as professional development and a magazine with relevant articles. It does require an account to access most of the resources, but it is free. It’s also a tad overwhelming, so I’d recommend starting with the learning plans, which can be sorted by grade level and topic.
Using documentaries about current and historical events as a starting point, this resource offers lesson plans, discussion guides, and reading lists on subjects ranging from media literacy, women’s issues, black history, politics, disability topics, and more with over 200 online streaming video clips to choose from.
This is an extensive curriculum-based program that encourages global awareness and promotes a more sustainable future for everyone, linking local communities to global issues and the ways in which kids can make a positive impact on both. Facing the Future offers both classroom and single student curricula, available to purchase, to engage students around the ideas of “Connecting with Nature, Equity and Justice, Health and Resiliency, Interconnectedness, Local to Global, Peace and Collaboration, Respect for Limits, and Universal Responsibility.”
YHRI provides a full free online curriculum to engage students in human rights topics using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as its base. This is a very engaging program that is also well laid out and easy to follow, and is a great jumping off point for understanding what it means when we talk about rights and justice, and why it matters.
6. Radical Math.
A social justice approach to math? Why not! Search by math topic or social issue for a unique multidisciplinary approach to math and social justice.
Lesson plans and materials for Howard Zinn’s best-selling book A People’s History of the United States that encourages a more “accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of United States history” than is traditionally taught, offering lesson plans, teacher’s guides and multimedia resources. Registration is required for access, and is free.
A guide curated by the Human Rights Campaign, Welcoming Schools offers book lists, resources, and lesson plans aimed at LGBTQ topics in particular, such as preventing and addressing bullying and how to cultivate more welcoming and inclusive school environments.
Created by a group of educators in response to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va, these lessons and resources address topics such as racism and anti-semitism, how to help children process and cope with trauma, bullying prevention, social justice, and human rights.
10. Using Their Words.
Designed as a resource to engage younger children in social justice and diversity topics, Using Their Words provides free downloadable unit studies based around their six elements of social justice: Self-love and knowledge, respect for others, issues of social injustice, social movements and change, awareness raising, and social action.