Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fairness & Compromising

In kindergarten we read You Get What You Get written by Julie Gassman.  I could hardly get past reading the title without students shouting out, "And you don't throw a fit!"  This short and sweet story shows how one little squirrel follows this rule at school but has a difficult time following the rule at home.  He accidentally lets "the cat out of the bag" with this school rule, and his family jumps on the opportunity to implement it at home as well.

We brainstormed what fairness is and many students felt that it is everyone getting the same thing.  (The blue pen represents changes we made after the different activities)  I asked them if they've ever said, "That's unfair!" before and how they knew that something was unfair.  We talked about our feelings that bubble up when we think something that happens isn't fair.

I then introduced a few activities to challenge their idea of fairness.  I had everyone sit around in a big circle around the carpet.  Then I chose 4 volunteers to create a "fishbowl" for modeling.  I had them sit inside the larger circle in a smaller circle that everyone could observe.  I passed out 12 different erasers unevenly (on purpose) to each of the students.  Some of the students ended up with only a little and others with a lot.  I asked them if the way I passed them out was fair.  They had lots of qualms about how I divided it up.  I asked them to redistribute the erasers in a way that they felt was fair.  After many attempts, they eventually came up with a solution and we debriefed how it went.

I asked them questions such as,
  • What did you think of the activity?
  • Did you have more or less erasers then you had at the beginning?
  • By the end did you think it was fair?
  • Is it always possible to share things fairly?
I introduced the concept of compromising.  What our 4 volunteers just did is called a compromise.  Compromising is something we do when different people want different things.  Compromise is finding a win-win solution.  I asked them about a couple of scenarios to test their compromising skills:
  • You want to watch a cartoon, but your brother wants to watch a movie
  • You want to carve a scary Jack O'Lantern, but your sister wants to give it a silly face
  • You want to go swimming, but your friend wants to ride bikes
I then started a second activity to further expand their knowledge of fairness.  This time I asked 3 volunteers to come up to the front of the room to be my actors.  I told each of them that they were going to act out a different injury.  The first student had a broken arm (so they held their arm with a pained look), the second student had a scratch on their arm (so they looked at that part of their arm) and the third student had a sore throat (so they coughed and asked for water).  I then pulled out 3 band-aids.

I told them that I wanted things to be fair, so they were each going to get the same medical treatment.  I put a band-aid on the broken arm, the scratched arm and the sore throat.  Then I asked the class, was this fair?  They were rolling around in laughter about how ridiculous I was.  I reinforced that they said fairness means everyone getting the same thing, so I gave them each the same thing - what was wrong?  After a little more discussion we came up with a compromise that fairness isn't about everyone getting the same thing, but rather everyone getting what they need.  Sometimes this might mean different people will receive different things.  We also learned that Ms. Sepp would not be a very good nurse. :)