Beyond Brainwashing: Breaking the Cycle of Socialization and Advocating for Change!

Change movements are filled with people who made decisions to interrupt the Cycle of Socialization and the System of Oppression.

What is the Cycle of Socialization?

The Cycle of Socialization” is the process by which we “get systematic training in how to be each of our social identities throughout our lives.” (Harro 2004, revised 2008).

We are socialized by our families, our institutions, and our culture. Oftentimes, we are unaware that we have even been socialized – especially if we have power and agency and the system is benefitting us.

The Cycle of Socialization leads to the marginalization of some groups and the acceptance of this system by the more dominant groups. As a white, upper-middle-class Jewish woman with a Master’s Degree from New York, USA, I have benefitted greatly from this system throughout my life in terms of the opportunities that have been afforded to me.

See the diagram below for a closer look at the Cycle of Socialization:

The Cycle of Socialization. Source:

Thoughts on the Cycle of Socialization:

I love this quote from Tanay Naik, Secondary School Deputy Principal at UNIS Hanoi, from his article posted in the most recent issue of TIE online. He said:

“The reality is that for the most part, our current systems and structures do little to create an environment where active and open questioning can happen. Those who have the courage to do so are oftentimes met with repercussions or their questions fall into the abyss, unaddressed by a power structure that isn’t designed for marginalized educators.” 

Systems of oppression change when people are open ably to share ideas and talk about what they are noticing. However, many of us shy away from these difficult discussions – out of fear, apathy, and/or complacency. In order to grow and evolve as a society, we need to be more willing to take risks and speak up no matter how uncomfortable we may feel.

For COETAIL this week, we were asked to share our thoughts on the Cycle of Socialization using Flipgrid. Flipgrid is an amazing tool for collaboration, as it allows multiple voices and perspectives to be heard.

Here is the link to the community discussion board on the “Cycle of Socialization reading. You can also find the QR code below:

QR Code: Flipgrid Community Discussion Board on the Cycle of Socialization reading and its implications for classroom teaching.

Here are my thoughts on the “Cycle of Socialization” reading:

We did a text rendering protocol and chose 1 word, phrase, and sentence from the “Cycle of Socialization” article that stood out to us. The word I chose was “awareness”, the phrase I chose was “silence is consent”, and the sentence I chose is the one at the top of this page “Change movements are filled with…”

After we shared our responses in the text rendering protocol, we listened to other’s responses and reflected on what our peers had said.

Reflecting on the Process:

I found the process to be quite natural, as I have used Flipgrid extensively in my classroom over the past few years. It’s a great tool for getting EAL students to speak (and to track their progress in speaking over the course of a semester).

I like how Flipgrid ensures equal air time for everybody. One voice can’t dominate a conversation, because everyone has a chance to be seen and to share. In that regard, Flipgrid can help amplify marginalized voices, and allow for those who are often in the shadows to step out and share their perspectives.

I will continue to use Flipgrid with my students in the future. Our understanding of concepts is strengthened when we have the opportunity to talk, uninterrupted, about what we are learning. And, of course, our knowledge grows when we are able to listen to other’s thoughts on a topic as well.

Final Thoughts: 

As an EAL teacher, I work with students who are often marginalized from the mainstream. Their voices are not heard as much as the voices of other students (especially in their content area classes). My task is to help them develop the self-advocacy tools and skills to speak up for themselves and ask for what they need. I want them to feel confident, and comfortable sharing their ideas.

I also want them to know that their home languages and cultures are valued. In international schools, English proficiency is highly valued. So are Western cultural norms. Many schools have diversity and inclusion statements. If these statements are to be lived (and not just lip service), then our institutions need to be much more explicit about honoring where students come from.

I am heartened by the increased awareness among educators around DEIJ issues in the wake of the #MeToo Movement and the George Floyd #blacklivesmatter Protests. I am hopeful that, in the next few years, we will see meaningful and long-awaited changes in our schools’ practices.

I’ll end with a quote by the radical activist and author, Paolo Friere, whose seminal book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed“, made quite an impression on me when I read it as a college student. Those of us who are educators would be wise to keep his words in mind as we go about our daily business.

Quote by Paolo Friere.

Question for the reader: How do you advocate and agitate for systemic change in your community?

3 thoughts on “Beyond Brainwashing: Breaking the Cycle of Socialization and Advocating for Change!

  1. Hello Megan,

    It’s time to change. We are living in a complicated world. we have to accept it or we have to change it. I’m in china, here the covid is under control, but in Germany where my mom lives, the situation is still complicated and nothing is under control. I will not say here is all right, it is just different. And it will take much more time to go back before we had covid.

    “We are socialized by our families, our institutions, and our culture.” … is right and I think it will not change soon or why it had to change? Does it need to change?

    I was never in the USA, all what I know about it is from newspaper, internet, TV or people. You say: “I have benefitted greatly from this system”
    Why change something you profit from! Every Person should get the same chance. But we know it better.

    I found the same picture which you post. As I try to find something about it in German I didn’t find anything!

    Your quote you post reminds me of another coetail week when we get something about Greta Thunberg, I’m absolute not a fan of this person, but what she started about the climate and our future is very important and a right step to do something for our planet.

    “Systems of oppression change … how uncomfortable we may feel.” Is 100% right – I was traveling in many countries, I saw a lots of people, I did so many things in my life. I say we have to do something, I say how I think, but I know I will not change the system. We are living here for more than 2000 years. But we still fight, we still have problems, we still say we have to change something, we still not good.

    Silence is consent! Why is it so? Silence also can mean not to die or get richer! Depends on where you are/ who you are.

    Flipgrid can be a good option. The internet is full of different flipgrid.
    Yes, the students can speak, but will all other students listen to it?
    Flipgrid seams fair to everyone. For me was the first time that I hear from flipgrid. But what is flipgrid doing with all that information? Are they really fair?

    Your post makes me thinking a lot. We will not more change the world, but we can try to let the kids change the world.

    “How do you advocate and agitate for systemic change in your community?”

    As Teacher we do it every day – but do we really make it right? NO because there will be always a person who say what I do, what you do, what any other person is doing = is WRONG. And we also don’t know tomorrow, the future. We do our best and hope it will be right.

    Thanks Michael

  2. Hi Megan,

    Awesome post!

    I particularly loved the TIES article written by Tanay as well as the ESA resources you shared above.

    I do agree with much of Tanay’s sentiments; sadly much of the DEIJ work done it schools is tokenistic.

    Love the work that Darnell Fine (@de_fine) is doing at Singapore American School as well as Liz Cho (@cho_liz
    ) out of Korea International School.

    Here is my Wakelet on DEIJ resources (, in case you’re interested on more of a deep dive.

    Lastly, to answer your question: What are some things I do to break the cycle?

    – Be cognizant of the words and pronouns I use (e.g. “Hey guys” vs “Hi good people”)
    – Be certain that the pronouns I use in my examples are responsive to all, changing more to “they” rather than gender specific.
    – Media exposure is considerate of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities; especially literature, photos and videos.

  3. Hi Megan,

    Thank you for your wonderful post! I wanted to come read your blog after I watched your Flipgrid video. I really liked your choice of phrase, “silence is consent”. It is a statement that I really believe in, but sometimes I still struggle to find my voice and speak up when I see things are not fair. Perhaps, I can repeat this to myself as a reminder that if I want to see a change I will need to help as well.

    I also really liked the idea you shared about helping your EAL students understand that their home language and culture are still valuable. Having worked in English medium international schools for many years, I have felt a similar need to help students maintain their cultural identity in this way.

    This past summer, I actually took a course from Erin Kent Consulting called “Leveraging the Power of Translanguaging”. The course was all about helping students to grow academically by allowing them to use all of their linguistic repertoire. I also read the book, “Rooted in Strength: Using Translanguaging to Grow Multi-lingual Readers and Writers”

    During the course, they shared this amazing quote from Jim Cummins “We are faced with the bizarre scenario of schools successfully transforming fluent speakers of foreign languages into monolingual English speakers.” (Modern Language Journal, Winter 2005)

    Because of my career in international education, I wrote in my blog for this week, that I considered being a “native English speaker” as another way I benefitted as an agent. Perhaps an increased use of translanguaging could offer an opportunity to keep students’ home culture and language as a benefit for them instead of another reason for oppression.

    All the best,

Comments are closed.