Equality Is Not Enough: What the Classroom Has Taught Me About Justice
Imagine this situation: A classroom of students is settling down to work on a writing task. All of a sudden, one student exclaims, “That’s not fair! Why do they get to listen to the instructions on the headphones! I want to listen, too!” This happens way more often than you think. Not because teachers are inherently unfair creatures (I would know; I’m a teacher), but because students have come to understand “fairness” as simply equal treatment. You’re familiar with this playground mentality of fairness: “I get two crackers, and you two crackers” or “I play with the ball for twenty minutes, and then you play with it for twenty minutes.” Others are starting to question this “Sharing is Caring” idea and over-simplistic expectations of fairness. Because here’s the thing: Treating everyone exactly the same actually is not fair. Let me break it down. Teaching middle and high school students taught me all I needed to know about fairness and the persistence of privilege. 1. That would be privilege.
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