Re: letter to the edequity list

Donna Woodka (
Thu, 2 Oct 1997 13:25:54 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 1 Oct 1997, Elina Lahelma wrote:

> Dear edequity list members
> I am working with Tuula Gordon, Janet Holland and other
> colleagues on a project on 'Citizenship, difference and
> marginality in schools: with special reference to gender', and
> writing a book called Making Space: Citizenship and difference
> in schools.
> We are having trouble with the concepts of social justice and
> equality. We have noticed the following shift: social justice' is
> being used instead of equality'. We are interested in the
> implications of this. How is social justice' defined? Have we
> lost out by not using equality'? Is there anything wrong with
> equality'? Any ideas?

I think when people hear "equality" they think "quotas". Equality has
become synonymous with equal results, rather than with equal opportunity.
The troubling thing about this is that instead of addressing the problems
and the attitudes that led to inequalities in the system, quotas led
people to believe that those that gained from quotas were not as qualified
as they should have been for the position.

I don't see "social justice" as much of an improvement, frankly. This
implies things as they are now are unjust, and many people simply don't
want to believe that is true. I think we need to focus on changing
attitudes in education through providing a wide range of role models,
encouraging open thinking about societal roles, and encouraging young
people to see themselves and others as individuals, rather than
pre-judging themselves or anyone else simply as part of a group.

I don't know that there is a terminology for this, and tend to think that
the less emphasis is made on terminology, the better. It's easier to get
people to see your way of thinking if you don't provide them with a
terminology they can stick labels on and use against you later on.

Donna Woodka | "Vicarious living is not the same thing | as imaginative living."
| -- Maureen Dowd

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