Different realities – friends or enemies? Is diversity part of reality?

When we enter in a new surrounding there is always a certain reality in which we are supposed to slide in. This reality is served to us from the dominant socio-cultural point of view and it gives us a certain implicit frames of what is “normal” way to be and behave. The existing reality is produced and reproduced by public policies and the way we speak. In school context for example school policies reflects the reality that dominates by producing social categories. It places us into boxes with labels, which refers to our gender, ethnicity, sexuality and many others.  We are labelled as boys and girls, heterosexuals and so on. But not only this categorizing process gives us a certain label and makes us to navigate in the particular circumstances that we have to live in, it also produces social inclusion and exclusion. Social inclusion and exclusion process not only includes some and exclude others but it also produces opportunities to bully and violate others. From bullying and violence we get to the definitions and thoughts that often are combined with these concepts. During the lecture we talked a bit about how bullying may be thought to be more emotional or mental and violence on the other hand is more easily considered as some concrete physical actions. And to continue with this thought, emotional violence can often be thought somehow lighter and less severe compared to violence that include physical actions. This clearly is problematic since you can’t really evaluate these forms of violence in such ways.

There is an example on the book ”Social justice, education and identity” where one teacher says that he/she has not dealt with gay student yet, so he/she can’t say much about the issue. In writer’s words: “ – – if one is not aware of lesbian, gay or bisexual pupils in the school, then homophobia is not a problem” (Epstein & al. 2003, 127). Because we have our own perspective or reality where certain issues don’t appear as problem, it’s easy to assume that others think the same way. Especially when things aren’t discussed. It’s important that teachers reflect their own behavior and think about how pupils with different backgrounds might interpret what they are saying. Teachers should be good examples and show by their behavior that everyone must be treated with respect. It’s important to understand different perspectives and realities so behavior can change and less violent reality can be reproduced. Interesting was also the discussion on how such problems as bullying and violence are recognized in school environment. And more specifically, how they sometimes are even denied in school environment. Bullying or being homophobic, for some to mention, are general problems in today’s society so it would be weird for them not to occur in schools as well. During my years in secondary school, I remember one of my teachers saying that there´s no bullying in our school. The reality, unfortunately, was pretty different than that so the existing reality was totally denied. It’s essential not only to recognize but also to admit the different realities that we are facing and dealing with in our everyday life. That would probably be the first step to make the realities face and interact with each other and not only exist separately.

The idea of multiple realities is very intriguing especially within the school context. It would be very important that teachers would be able to provide opportunities for their students to explore and familiarize themselves with topics and phenomena yet new and unknown. This can be done in several ways, e.g. by using art, sociodrama, guest lecturers, case examples and first and foremost by conducting upfront discussions. As school system represents the very institutionalized form of socializations, the naturalization of progress might be the only way to promote social justice. Vincent (2003, 7) argued in the Introduction of the book “Social Justice, Education and Identity” that education is for some a process of ‘border crossing’ but shouldn’t it be that to everyone? Openness in schools is crucial also because it supports students’ processes of identity formation –  as Epstein et al. highlighted (am. 2003, 125) it is necessary to know who the Other is, in order to know who you are. Of course identity as well as social justice both are fluid by nature but even more so it is important that the constant transforming is enabled through acknowledging that the truths are out there and in us.

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Group D: Annika, Minna, Paula & Sorella