Classes on diversity and social justice are necessary


Photo credit: Julia Poage

It’s no secret that the U.S. education system is fundamentally flawed in more ways than I can write in one or even thousands of columns. From our shameful teacher salaries to our overwhelming need to put kids into boxes and reduce them to numbers based on standardized test scores, the U.S. has a lot of work to do. Besides our overemphasis on testing, there are other aspects of the curriculum that we fail to recognize as enormous defects.

Classes and lessons on diversity and social justice should be required in all schools.

I didn’t realize until I got to college that I had never taken a class or been formally taught through a public school education the importance of diversity and inclusion. This is most definitely a problem. Thankfully, I had other ways of learning about the inherent injustices that minorities experience in this country in their everyday lives, but not everyone can say this.

Even though Trinity has an understanding diversity requirement in Pathways, it may not be enough. A lot of us just look at Pathways as classes to check off a list.

Classes on diversity should be much more than requirements that we check off a list. For example, I took Social Justice as my First-Year Experience, and I couldn’t help but think that the lessons we were learning in there were necessary for all students to learn.

Granted, most of the students who choose to take Social Justice most likely have a basic understanding of the injustices faced by minorities in this country, and it was very hard to find people with opposing views — at least in my class — but that’s precisely the reason classes like these should be more widespread and even required.

There’s also a problem with the fact that we aren’t taught classes on understanding diversity until we get to college. We should be teaching kids way earlier in life about privilege — especially that minorities can’t just try harder to get ahead. College is way too late for people to be learning this for the first time.

This isn’t to say that a college education comes with an education on social inequalities. Most schools don’t require it at all, and they should. We are privileged just to be here, as only 30 percent of the U.S. has a bachelor’s degree — so let’s start recognizing our privilege and educating ourselves on statistics like that one.

Education is extremely important to me as it is to most of the people at this school, so let’s stop taking it for granted. Branch out, take a sociology class, take an urban studies class, learn about people unlike you. Since every single one of us is at least privileged enough to get an education at a private university — no matter where we came from — let’s get out of this bubble and understand that there are less privileged people out there who are important to understand and listen to.

You’d think that compassion and empathy are qualities that we don’t need to be formally taught in a classroom, but you’d be surprised at how many people get to college — even one like Trinity — and still think that poor people are just lazy.