Topic 1: A Fair Society
This topic follows a structure that is designed to guide students to think about the big question, ‘What constitutes a fair society?’
The first lesson introduces a stratified fictional society, Liguria, which has two distinct social classes; the comfortable city people and the Outsiders who lack basic needs like food and shelter and for whom life is pretty tough.
Students are invited to consider the degree to which this society could be considered fair.
The next two lessons raise the notions of discrimination (or imposed inequalities) and equal opportunity. These notions are introduced using real life examples.
The final lesson returns to the fictional society, asking students to consider whether it is fair that people are denied opportunities through no fault of their own and if so, whether the fictional government should act to make the society fairer. In addition, students are asked to consider whether a fair society is possible.
At this stage of the topic, after students have had the opportunity to think in a structured way about the notions of fairness and equal opportunity, we return to the questions with which we began, this time looking for more nuanced reasoning, incorporating empathy, and formulating concepts of fairness and applying those concepts, looking at the whole picture, and making judgements about practicalities and strategies. Although the questions in lessons 1 and 4 are the same, it is likely that the students’ responses will be significantly more developed by lesson 4.
ACTIVITY: Discussion – Real opportunities
You and your child/ren might like to read this scenario and have a discussion with your child, using the following questions as prompts.
[Read aloud] Ms Davis, one of the year 5 teachers, is also a talented musician. She likes to do a music activity with her class each day, whether it’s rhythm and percussion, studying musical notes and harmonies, playing the recorder or exercises to help improve their singing voices. None of the other teachers do this with their classes, although they do other interesting things; Mr Fitzpatrick’s class does a lot of digital art and Miss Maria often does science and nature study in the playground before home time.
The principal has decided to put on a musical at the end of the year. There will be auditions next Thursday lunchtime in the hall and anyone can try out. There will be a panel of judges (who are also teachers) and whoever they decide are the best at singing or playing an instrument will be chosen to be part of the cast and orchestra.
Allow your child/ren plenty of time to think and respond to each question. Your role is to also wonder, to tease out the children’s responses, and to repeat parts of the scenario out loud if it helps clarify the question. That’s being asked.
These are complex issues, and are likely to draw out mixed responses (eg “in one way I think it’s fair, because x, but it’s also kind of not fair because y..”). This is fine – the goal is not to arrive at a definitive position, but to explore the complexities and consider different perspectives.
- Does every student have an equal opportunity to attend auditions?
- Which students are most likely to do well in the auditions? Is that fair? Why, or why not?
- Is there anything the school could do to make the audition fairer? If so, what?
- Do you think the school should try to make the audition process fairer?