Hundreds of elementary and high school teachers have visited a website created by UCSB faculty last September that is designed to educate their students on social justice in light of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The website, which is funded by a combination of grants, including the Gevirtz School of Education “Fund for Excellence,” serves as a database of resources for anyone interested in learning more about social justice and particularly the issue of teaching social justice to students in the K-12grades.
Faculty from the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education created the website, which includes links to literature, media resources, and other websites covering a range of topics from teacher support, donation opportunities and activist organizations.
Associate Professor Hsiu-Zu Ho and Senior Lecturer Carol Dixon said the website has had a “snowball effect” since the database was put up approximately two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. As the website gains popularity, it is continually updated as new links are reviewed and added. Teachers who use the website have also sent their ideas for possible additions.
“We are just a bunch of crazy people who keep taking on new things,” Dixon said.
The professors had researched information for the database for several years prior to Sept. 11, but Education Professor Judith Green said they decided to put the website up early because their research was relevant but hard to find on other Internet sources.
“The main question that most teachers have when confronting these issues is where do we go and how do we help,” Green said.
The team set out to answer that question 10 years ago by conducting studies in three fifth-grade classrooms that were teaching a segment on topics such as “Rights, Respect, and Responsibility.” They wanted to give the students tools to apply what they were learning in their local community, Dixon said.
“The students weren’t being left with a sense of hopelessness,” she said.
“One of our primary goals is to look at ways to engage students in learning about social justice,” Ho said. “Students sometimes have a hard time relating to these issues. Teachers don’t always know how to respond or present these particular topics.”
One way the website does this is by providing access to first-hand accounts from people who have lived through injustice by providing primary source materials, which Ho said teaches students to “look through different perspectives.”
The professors are also working with local sponsors to involve students in docent work for community events such as a month-long exhibit of the Henrietta Marie, a slave ship that sank in 1700 and was discovered in 1972. Community members can view remnants of the ship from April 14 to May 28 at the Santa Barbara Karpeles Library. They are also organizing a public lecture on Feb. 7 by Paul Spickard in the History Department.
The website can be viewed at http://www.education.ucsb.edu/socialjustice.