momma says "life's not fair"

For an hour every morning, I help with our third graders in Math and Science (in the general education setting). I'm in charge of three girls with severe hearing loss, one of which performs at about the early first grade level when it comes to Science.
 
We just held an IEP for her and decided that she needed to use the calculator so that could focus on understaning the math concepts instead of being bogged down by the actual computation.
 
As I handed her the calculator, another student, "Jose" (who is quite gifted) proclaimed:
 
"That's not fair!"
 
The whole class heard him, so I took the opportunity to give a brief lecture on fairness as I have come to understand it in the classroom.
 
Fairness does not equal "same". Fairness is everyone getting what they need in order to learn. Jose doesn't need a calculator to learn, but my student does. Not everyone needs a giant magnifying glass to do their work, but our visually impaired student does.
 
He seemed to understand what I was saying (either that or he shut up about it!). I've found that I've often needed to address the class when something like this happens. Why does Sue get to sit on a bean bag? How come Miguel has play doh in his desk? Why does John get to stand up to do his work? And so on.
 
How do you address fairness?

7 comments:

Shell said...

This: "Fairness does not equal "same". Fairness is everyone getting what they need in order to learn" is so important for people to understand.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

You gave a great explanation for me to keep in mind if ever I'm called upon to explain it.

Cortney said...

I always has to use the wheelchair example for fairness, mainly because the girls I taught were in high school and it seemed harder to explain. But I'd just say that "you wouldn't think it was unfair if some one needed a wheelchair to get around would you?" and that always seemed to work. I also did a lesson on learning disabilities and visual perception...like using the picture of the skull that is really a woman sitting at a vanity putting on make-up...it helped the students understand that each persons brain see's things differently.

Good job to you though, I'd think little one's would have a harder time understanding it.

Sunny said...

I often tell them that it wouldn't be fair if Susie had a broken arm, Tommy had a broken leg and Jake had a fever and I just gave them all aspirin to take care of it. Instead, they all need something different to get better. It usually gets them to understand that "fair" isn't always the exact same thing.

MMM said...

I completely LOVE your fairness quote!! I am a child psychotherapist and this will come in so handy.

SharleneT said...

One of the best responses I've seen for the "fair" argument. Doors will open so easily for the gifted or "pretty" child and, yet, more often than not, they're the ones complaining about fairness with a sense of entitlement. Life isn't fair, plain and simple. It's a lesson in empathy that can be gently taught and you definitely have a head start for helping children understand it. Kudos. Come visit when you can because it just isn't fair, if you don't!

Maranda said...

Oh I really like that description of fair vs same. I'll have to remember that now that I'm expecting another bambino. ;-)

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