If anyone is looking for a great lesson to teach their children, read on!
This lesson was created specifically for my classroom, which just happens to be full of students who are pretty privileged and taken care of compared to much of the world. If your children/students are living under different circumstances, please be sure to analyze this lesson before teaching it. Some students may be offended by the shooting activity if they are put in a particular group, etc.
Suggested Age Group: High School or Advanced Middle School Students
Suggested Class: Advisory, Leadership, Counseling, Communications, Etc. (Extremely well suited for clubs and organizations that are trying to donate their time or money to others, or for students who have a hard time understanding the purpose of such an act.)
Suggested Class Size: 10 or more students
Time: Approximately 30 minutes
Classroom Setting: Any arrangement of desks in some sort of row arrangement (preferably three or more rows) will work well.
To teach the children about privilege, set up a projector before students arrive to class. Have the lights turned off and post this video on the screen. I left it paused at the very beginning so all students could see was the two faces posed side by side. Be sure to make the video full screen so students cannot see the title or purpose of the video!
Once students enter the classroom, tell them to sit down quietly and watch the video. I gave my students no additional information, as I wanted them to pay attention and truly think about the meaning of the video.
When the video is over, ask students what the meaning of the video is. Many of them will start by discussing clean water acts and that it is important for everyone in the world to have clean water.
Once students start discussing helping others who need clean water or other things, ask them questions to keep the conversation moving.
Once it seems that students have a good understanding of the purpose of the video, give each one a scrap piece of paper. (I passed these out before the beginning of class.) Students should be instructed to crumple the paper up into a ball. At that time, the teacher should place a recycling bin on the front counter, or somewhere in front of all student desks.
Students should be instructed to remain at their seats and to attempt, one at a time, to toss their paper balls into the recycling bin. Once all students have made the shot, ask students what they perceived from the activity. (Many of them will say that it was unfair because some students were sitting closer to the bin.)
Complete a short discussion about how the activity might connect to the video. Some students will put two and two together to find that those in the front of the room are considered more privileged. Once this observation is shared amongst the class, students should take turns describing which row of the room they believe they fit into (the privileged in the front, the needy in the back, or the middle-class in between).
Give students the chance to throw their paper balls again. This time, ask students how they could make it into the bin easier without leaving their seats. Some of my silly students said the balls would fly better if they were wet. (This is NOT an idea we tested.) One of the students finally realized, after a few rounds of playing, that it was easier for him to pass his ball forward to a peer sitting in the first row. This idea is where the students should arrive by the end of the lesson.
The privileged (or even those who are simply more privileged than others) can, and should, help other people out to make the world an easier place to live in and a happier place to be. Even the smallest aid (like the paper ball experiment) can make someone’s day.
If you decide to complete this lesson, I would love to know the results! It worked really well for my students and they are still talking about it almost 2 weeks later. Some of them are even trying to put the lesson into action by doing good things for others throughout their day. I’m curious to see how many other students react in the same (or different) ways to this lesson.
As always, good luck!