Because treating people fairly often means treating them differently.

This is something that I teach my students during the first week of school and they understand it. Eight year olds can understand this and all it costs is a box of band-aids.

I have each students pretend they got hurt and need a band-aid. Children love band-aids. I ask the first one where they are hurt. If he says his finger, I put the band-aid on his finger. Then I ask the second one where they are hurt. No matter what that child says, I put the band-aid on their finger exactly like the first child. I keep doing that through the whole class. No matter where they say their pretend injury is, I do the same thing I did with the first one.

After they all have band-aids in the same spot, I ask if that actually helped any of them other than the first child. I say, “Well, I helped all of you the same! You all have one band-aid!” And they’ll try to get me to understand that they were hurt somewhere else. I act like I’m just now understanding it. Then I explain, “There might be moments this year where some of you get different things because you need them differently, just like you needed a band-aid in a different spot.” 

If at any time any of my students ask why one student has a different assignment, or gets taken out of the class for a subject, or gets another teacher to come in and help them throughout the year, I remind my students of the band-aids they got at the start of the school year and they stop complaining. That’s why eight year olds can understand equity. 

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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