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?
- 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 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. :)