At SEACA we often play games as an educational tool. Recently we held a contest, breaking the students up into teams to see who could build the “tallest tower!” Each team was given materials including markers, paper, blocks, and tape, however none of the teams were provided with the same set of materials. As the contest proceeded, the students’ attitudes significantly changed, depending on the level of support, encouragement, and quality of materials they were provided. Some tried but eventually gave up. Others had fun and felt entitled to extra materials beyond what they were initially given.
During the judging portion of the contest, Michael, a member of one of the losing teams, repeatedly exclaimed, “but they had tape!” From there we transitioned into a dialogue about public education in the US and how the quality of resources in a school are dependent upon the wealth of the community; of how some schools have new computers and high quality enrichment programs, while other schools struggle with old text books and crumbling classrooms.
Here at SEACA, the heart of our work is getting our youth to take the lead in the fight for justice. Unfortunately that often means having to show them how the world really works. Of course, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we just stopped there and so the next step will be to teach them how to change inequality.