Activity time: 5 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers and tape
Preparation for Activity
- Post several sheets of blank newsprint.
- Review Leader Resource 1, Class Identity Descriptions, which offers language and definitions about socio-economic class that may help you facilitate discussion.
Description of Activity
Children learn a working definition of class and explore what it means to be perceived as, or perceive others as, rich, middle class, working class or poor.
Tell the children there are plenty of ways people sometimes think they are better or worse than someone else. Ask them if they can name any of these ways. List their suggestions on newsprint.
Tell the group:
As we can see, there are many ways people compare themselves to others and decide who is better. Today we are going to talk about only the ones that are particularly about wealth and power.
Winnow the list to include only those ideas that are common markers of socio-economic class; eliminate items that are not clearly and specifically about money or power and position. You may end up with some of these:
- Cell phone/iPod
- Sports, music or other activities that cost money
- Stores frequented
There are some categories people often use to think about who has more money and power and who has less. I am going to say four categories. Think about if you think you fit into any of these. You will not be asked to share what you are thinking.
Rich, middle class, working class, poor.
Now lead a discussion to bring out what the children think of when they think of each of the four categories. Go down the list of money- and power-related items (home, car, clothes, etc.) and ask, "What kind of home does a rich person have?" "What kind of home does a middle class person have?" and so on.
After some discussion, ask the group:
Now that we are talking about these categories in more detail, think to yourself for a moment. Do you still have the same idea of which category fits you best?
Give a moment for reflection. Then say:
Of course, no one is better than anyone else. But we do see a lot on television and hear a lot in music about these things. Many people believe that being rich is what everyone wants and what is best. How many of us believe this is true?
For those who raise their hands, affirm that this is what everyone learns. Also affirm that though everyone may wish to be rich it does not mean people who are rich are better. Affirm that all human beings, regardless of their social class, are worthy and valuable.
Including All Participants
Social class identity is sensitive and discussions can cause embarrassment. Affirm that although no one need be embarrassed, if people experience it this way, we need to accept that and be compassionate. Explain that we will practice trusting each other to be kind and assume all participate here with good intentions. It may also help to use a chime during this discussion, as a reminder to be quiet so that we can hear ourselves and each other speak.