Here’s How I Teach the Difference Between Equity and Equality

by | 01.1.19

Dr. Tracey Enser is an educator in Missouri. Follow her on Twitter @TraceyEnser.

A couple years ago, I came across an idea for teaching students the meaning of equity, and I adapted it to make it my own. I started by giving everybody a piece of candy. I told them, ‘Right now, we all have equal amounts of candy. What would be some reasons we might need to give each other different amounts?’ We talked about stomach aches, allergies, hunger, people with a sweet tooth. We wrote down the needs on cards and reallocated the candy.

We talked about how in our classroom, sometimes things may not seem ‘fair,’ because not everybody is getting the same thing. I talked through examples of what we might do to make sure everybody’s individual needs are met.

I teach in a special education classroom, with some students as young as kindergarten – and I’ve never had a student who didn’t understand this activity. It becomes something we can go back to throughout the year. When they say, ‘That’s not fair,’ I can remind them of this activity, and they remember and can explain the concept back to me. It’s cool to see them apply the activity to the real, everyday things that happen in and outside our classroom, and I hope it’s something they’ll take with them.

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