This is a wonderful lesson that I’ve seen on You Tube and BuzzFeed that illustrates clearly how one’s socio-economic can directly influences one’s ability to achieve success and opportunities.

Check out the video

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How I would teach the lesson:

  1. Put students into rows facing the front of the room.
  2. Place a blank piece of paper on each of the students desks.
  3. Ask them to crumple the paper.
  4. Dramatically/noticeably position the recycling/wastepaper receptacle to the front of  the room. The front row will be within the closest proximity to the basket.
  5. Explain that this is a simple game. State that this classroom is a microcosm of the world and that all of the students represent the earth’s human population. All people have opportunities to move ahead in our lives, to achieve success, or to become wealthy and part of the upper class. You’re going to have your chance too!
  6. Go on to explain that the only way to achieve all of this is for the students to throw their papers into the receptacle from their seats within the classroom hierarchy of rows.
  7. Many students may be frustrated and outraged by the task, recognizing the injustice   that their location within the classroom gives some students an unfair advantage. Take a mental note of which students complain.
  8. Instruct them to throw their papers. It is likely that some will get their papers in the bin, but many will not.
  9. Ask them to reflect upon what happened. They will probably notice that the closer they were to the bin, the higher their chances of success. Ask them to take note of who complained the loudest about the injustice relative to their position in the room. People who were not at a disadvantage may not have even been aware of the injustice at all, may have been caught up in the glory of their position, or may have completely ignored the others because they were focused on their own goals. THIS IS PRIVILEGE!
  10. Urge the students to be aware of their own privilege whenever possible, especially when it comes to education, gender and sexuality, socio-economic status, race, religion, and country of origin.
  11. Lead the class in a discussion or a free-write about privilege. Ask them to examine their own lives for privilege that exists and have them provide examples.