Social Justice In Education
"Social Justice in Education" by R. W. Connell discusses the role of
education in society and the implications that social justice issues have on
education. Connell begins by establishing that education and social justice can
be examined separately yet they are inescapably linked through the social medium
of their implementation. "Education concerns schools, colleges and
universities, whose business is to pass knowledge on to the next generation.

Social justice is about income, employment, pensions or physical assets like
housing."(Connell, 1993) Three points validating the equal importance of
social justice and the education system to people of all delineations are: 1.)
in Western society public schools are key forums of social interaction and
comprise some of the largest social institutions 2.) educational institutions
are highly economic bodies and have become "major public assets" (Connell,

1993) 3.) teaching becomes a vehicle by which society is ultimately determined
and has a great influence over society’s morality. Connell describes the
meaning of justice in education as being "a question of fairness in
distribution... equality."(Connell, 1993) "Justice cannot be achieved by
distributing the same... standard good to... all social classes."(Connell,

1993) By stating this, Connell summarizes that in the attempt to achieve
equality, unequal means must be employed. The implications for teaching
presented by Connell’s article are immense. The concept of equality in
education and the equality of access to education are matters that are
determined by the social constructs of the society in which we live. The notion
of equality in education means that educators must approach all material and
subject matter with a premise of unbiased predetermination. Music, math,
science, fine arts, English, Japanese, history, etc... must all be considered on
a par. Our current educational system does not treat all subjects as equal in
our public education system. The stereotypical reading, writing and arithmetic
(primary subjects) take precedence over the fine arts and like subjects
(secondary subjects). Social justice criteria as presented in this article,
establish that economic variables are a means of determination for favouritism
within the educational institution. Where the primary subjects receive ensured
funding, the secondary subjects receive funding when deemed viable. This creates
inequality at the very base of the institution itself. The result is degradation
to all facets of the educational system. "The moral quality of education is
inevitably affected by the moral character of educational institutions. If the
school system is dealing unjustly... The quality of education for all... is
degraded." (Connell, 1993) I sometimes wonder why administrators and
educators, the facilitators of education, cannot realize the reasons behind the
success and failures of our education system. I have often heard educators and
scholars refer to the greatness of the Renaissance and Romantic eras in world
history and their frustrations due to the loss of the benefits of those times.

The secondary subjects during those times of grandeur were not secondary, but
they were primary and equal subjects to all others; therefore, the benefits of
equalization of subjects importance is essential in achieving those past
benefits as well as a highly developed society. Connell presents an intriguing
argument and concludes with several ideas. "Individual equality is the
condition, not the goal, of a just social order."(Connell, 1993) Education
which favours is a "corrupt education" (Connell, 1993) and "social justice
is... fundamental to what good education is about." (Connell, 1993) Finally

Connell states that good means different things to different people and"justice cannot be achieved by distributing the same... standard good to...
all social classes." (Connell, 1993)


Connell, R. W. "Social Justice in Education". In Schools and Social

Justice. (Toronto: Our Schools/Our Selves Education Foundation, 1993) pp. 11-19.