by Hollie Mackenzie

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Equality of Opportunity game

November 22, 2017

 

This creative activity is one of the series of games I have created and implemented during my post as Assistant Lecturer on the module PO314: Introduction to Political Theory at the University of Kent (2017/18). 

 

Inspired by the Privilege Walk exercise,[1] I designed this activity to show the different social positions that each of my students have that can be seen as head-starts in terms of equality of opportunity. Providing Lego bricks, I asked the students to build a Lego tower according to the statements that applied to them (see below for the list of statements). I explained that every statement had nothing to do with what my students had done or what decisions they had made by describing the Lego bricks in terms of ‘brute luck’, which distinguishes between people’s background circumstances and the consequences of their freely made choices.[2] The idea of this activity was to provide my students with an opportunity to see the inequalities of our social system, understand the intricacies of privilege, and to explore the problems involved in overcoming oppression and achieving distributive justice. Although this activity can risk making students feel uncomfortable, this seminar took place on week 9 which, at that point, we had built a good rapport with one another and the concluding discussion provided a debrief which was vital to relieve any possible negative emotions and prevent any possible resentment or damage. The critical insights gained helped prepare my students to not only become more critical political theorists, but also more self-aware social beings.

 

 

List of statements: 

  1. Take two bricks if you were born in the UK or the USA

  2. Take two bricks If you’re white

  3. Take two bricks If you were born male

  4. Take two bricks If you’re able-bodied

  5. Take two bricks if you’ve never experienced mental illness

  6. Take two bricks If you’re heterosexual

  7. Take two bricks If both of your parents are still married

  8. Take two bricks If you had access to a private education

  9. Take two bricks If you had access to a free tutor growing up

  10. Take two bricks If you’ve never had to worry about your mobile phone being cut off

  11. Take two bricks If you’ve never had to help mum or dad with the bills or rent

  12. Take two bricks If it wasn’t for a scholarship, you didn’t have to pay for university

  13. Take two bricks If you’ve never wondered where your next meal is going to come from

  14. Take two bricks If you own any property

Seminar Questions:

  1. How do you feel about your "position", (as in your number of bricks)? 

  2. Is it right that we all have different positions?

  3. Do you think this reflects your position in society?

    1. Why? Explain reasons.

  4. What do you want to say to those with fewer bricks than you? 

  5. Is there anything you could do that could make your positions more equal?

  6. Do you feel a responsibility to do so?

  7. How would you feel if you had fewer bricks? Disadvantaged?

  8. What do you want to say to those with more bricks than you? 

  9. If the people with more bricks contributed some of their bricks to you, how would that make you feel?

  10. Do you welcome the challenge to win your bricks? Is one less brick an opportunity to campaign for empowerment?

  11. Can we disregard the bricks altogether and posit that society ‘level down’ so that we all have equality of non-competitive opportunity?

    1. Would this mean most of us will miss out?

  12. Is it better to satisfy the majority over the minority?

    1. Or does this legitimise the inequalities?

  13. Do we need to reassess how we see the bricks? Should we view these inequalities as material or as human goods? Or other?

  14. Is it about working together to win more bricks for the people with less bricks?

 

[1] See lesson plans by Layne, R and Chiu, R, https://peacelearner.org/2016/03/14/privilege-walk-lesson-plan/ (2016); Tsukada, H, http://timeandplace.ubc.ca/user-guide/contact-us/ ; and Diversity Education Task Force, https://www.lakelandcollege.edu/cm/diversity/content/documents/Classroom_Activity_Privilege_Walk.pdf

[2] (Dworkin 1981)

 

*This activity was performed on 21st and 22nd November 2017 during the seminar. 

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