My roommate is obsessed with the TV show Friends, the day that Netflix released the show was a big deal for her. I finally caved and started watching Friends a few weeks ago myself. Last night as I am falling asleep and a clip caught my attention. Ross, who overacts about almost everything, get upset when his son Ben wants to play with a Barbie doll. All of the other characters think Ross is being ridiculous and see no real problems with Ben wanting a Barbie. This scene got me thinking about how the world works. I played with Barbies when I was little with my sister but my brother never really played with us. Would have been a big deal if he wanted to play? Do we act certain ways just because that is the way society tells us to act? Sometimes I think society overreacts the way Ross did.
Kids are so innocent, like Ben, they do not notice the strict rules of norms that society puts on us. As kids we are so hopeful and do not see difference. It is not until we get older that we start to close off and see difference. The longer we are in the world the more time we have to be socialized. The world tells us that norms are the only things that are acceptable. Being normal is what we are supposed to be shooting for. Teenagers explain this ideal the best I think we they angstily complain that they just want to be “normal.” What does being normal mean anyway? Why do we want to fit into this idea of one size fits all? Difference is not bad but the world tells us that it is wrong.
This week in my education classes we discuss issues of social justice, and power. These discussion can sometimes be awkward because no one wants to offend anyone else. One of the roots of these kinds of discussions is the idea of difference. Society treats people differently. There are people who are given more privileges because of their race, gender, religion, and sexuality. If you deviate from this privilege group which is considered the “norm,” this difference is wrong. All people have their own biases including teachers. How do teachers ensure they do not treat their students unfairly because of their own biases? Being a white female from a middle class family I recognize that I have a lot of privilege which means my experience will be different from the students in my class. How do I ensure that I sympathize with all of my students but also acknowledge that we do not have shared experience?
Also relating to social justice is how to teach these ideals. Defining and teaching about social justice is important, but it could be challenging to incorporate into the curriculum. Working difficult discussions that affect society is necessary. In order for students to develop their own opinions, outside of their parents they need to hear different points of view. This discussion should be done without judgment and in safe spaces. In order to promote the idea that difference not wrong social justice education is crucial.