This Is a Perfect Time to Talk With Our Students About Social Injustice

The COVID-19 pandemic offers teachers a unique opportunity to capitalize on student empathy. Before the pandemic hit, millions of U.S. students were already in our classrooms experiencing challenges like food insecurity and the inability to afford medical care. But the pandemic brought these challenges home to middle-class families in ways we have not seen since the Great Depression.

Plus, across the country, families of all economic levels have faced restrictions never seen before. Shelter-in-place orders, business closures, restrictions on dining, even mask-wearing—all of these experiences mean U.S. children now have common experiences of privation and restriction. These difficult experiences come with a silver lining: Middle-class and affluent students now have lived experiences that could help them develop greater empathy for the everyday struggles of more marginalized people.

That window of empathy makes this a critical time to have discussions about social injustice with your students. Their experiences with COVID-19 can be the catalyst to explore any injustice, whether in their own communities or somewhere across the globe. 

These four steps can guide the process: 

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