When it comes to building community, the words that often come to mind are “Welcome, Safety and Respect” – the Avenues motto. But what happens when 3rd graders encounter words such as “Equality, Equity and Liberation”? Magic happens.
The 3rd-grade Pyrenees and Sierra Nevadas were presented with this comic one morning, and drew several conclusions from it.
Several students giggled and laughed at the ridiculousness of the question. One student blurted “it’s not fair!” Other students responded by saying that only one of the animals (the monkey) would be able climb the tree. The fish and seal would automatically lose. When asked whether the test was a good test, all said that it was not, and argued that it favored some animals more than others. But the main question was...what does this have to do with our classroom?
Some responses included “We need to have better quizzes?” “No more tests!” “Some tests are unfair!”
The classes were then shown another picture, and were able to use the vocabulary of “equality, equity and liberation” in their own learning. The students parsed out the differences between equality and equity – understanding that equality means that everyone is given the same thing, despite their needs. One student said that each person got one box each, even though the tall person didn’t need the box to see. When asked which drawing as better, everyone said the “equity” box, not knowing fully the definition of equity. Students were able to own the discussion, and talk about equity in terms of boxes and being able to see the baseball game. Even though each person did not get the same amount of boxes, all got the boxes they needed to see. They were then able to bring it back into the classroom, explaining that all of us have different needs and that not everyone is going to learn the same way. Some students are going to need extra time, some students are always going to sit at the carpet, and some students may want to listen and write down directions in order to concentrate. It’s not necessarily “fair,” but it’s what people need. We’re all learning and trying to reach the same learning target, but we learn differently. And that’s equity. But ultimately, the classes decided that liberation was the goal. To have no barriers, to have equal access to opportunity, but some students debated that liberation in our world is impossible because of injustice. But for now, these 3rd graders are going to stick with making sure that everyone has an equitable way to learn by encouraging, supporting and understanding difference.
- 3rd Grade
- Lower Division
- School Culture