Social Justice in the Classroom

Friday, October 23, 2020 - By: Maddy W, Hope ‘21; Photo by Jim Ganley

Social Justice 12 is one of the newest senior social studies courses on campus, having only been integrated in Brentwood’s classrooms for two years. Our fearless leader, Ms Richardson, spearheaded this class from day one with a passion for “working with young people to become informed, engaged and passionate global citizens”.

Ms Richardson explains how this class is hugely beneficial to the Brentwood community through the support it offers students in the “important … enlightening, but also challenging, process” of learning “how their identity and intersectionality play a part in how they engage with social justice issues”.

Since it’s flourishing start, Social Justice 12 at Brentwood has grown and evolved rapidly. Its most recent initiative is the Brave Space talks held during tutorials that were inspired by the Courageous Conversation and Pacific Educational Group. As explained by this organisation, the goal of these unusual conversations are to “establish a brave space that helps us to better prepare participants/students to interact authentically with one another in challenging dialogues”.

Within the Brentwood community, Ms Richardson and other staff members are excited to integrate this idea through Brave Space talks that encourage students to engage in “conversations about challenging current practices and fostering improvement and growth”. Though still in their early days of development, Brentwood is excited for these meetings to become a well-known and valued outlet for expression, communication, and most importantly, inclusion.

As students of Social Justice 12, we are given the opportunity to explore and investigate our own identity and form inquiry questions about the society around us. Through interactive discussions and thought-provoking games, such as the one shown in this picture that is aimed at examining our personal comfort and risk zones in hypothetical situations, we develop a better understanding of social justice issues worldwide and within our own lives.

Brenna LK, Alex ‘21 expresses appreciation for the questions that this class brings to her mind regarding her “own ethics and beliefs as well as [her] viewpoint of the bigger picture”. After each session, Ms Richardson hopes that her students gain “a new understanding and appreciation of the importance of equity and social justice … and take action to respond to issues that affect them, their community, and the world”. Social Justice12 undoubtedly provides students with all of this and more which is incredibly beneficial to student wellbeing and individual awareness.

Maddy W, Hope ‘21

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