UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teaching for social justice in the high school Spanish classroom : perspectives and practices Benson, Nicole


Talk of social justice is increasingly common in the educational context of British Columbia as well as in the academic literature on education. However, specific examples of how teachers of subjects other than English and Social Studies are taking up a social justice discourse are sparse. Specifically, there is very little written on such approaches to teaching Spanish as an additional language. This exploratory research therefore aimed to understand the extent to which high school Spanish teachers in British Columbia are incorporating social justice education into their pedagogies and curricula. Through online questionnaires sent to Spanish teachers across the province, interviews with seven of these teachers, and four sets of classroom observations, the study explored perspectives on social justice education, classroom practices that evidenced a commitment to such pedagogy, and the perceived obstacles to teaching for social justice in the high school Spanish classroom. It was found that teachers espoused a variety of definitions of social justice education but that the overwhelming majority believed in the importance of such approaches in the Spanish classroom. They evidenced an inspiring array of practices aimed at promoting social justice that could be seen as either educating about social justice, through curricula and classroom discussions, or for social justice, through democratic and anti-oppressive methodologies. It was found that many of these practices could serve to counter each of the five faces of oppression described by Young (1990): exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. Unfortunately, many obstacles to social justice education were also noted, including a lack of support and resources. This study demonstrates that there is a strong interest in bringing social justice education into the high school Spanish classroom but that more must be done to support teachers in this endeavour.

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