Is That Fair?

6, 7, 8

We define what fairness means and compare and contrast definitions. Participants build empathy as they discuss others' experiences with fairness.

PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • compare and contrast several definitions of fairness.
  • discuss how fairness may look different in different situations.

Printout of Handout: Fairness Definitions. Display these definitions around the room.


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Watch a video about fairness to promote discussion. This one from Rising Tide Center describes the difference between equality and equity.

    Ask and discuss this question: "In what situations do you think it is not fair to treat everyone the same?"

    They may conclude that giving everyone what they need is more fair than giving everyone the same.

  2. Share different definitions of fairness by posting them on the walls around the room. See handout Fairness Definitions. After reading over all the definitions, participants stand by the definition that makes the most sense to them.

    Note: If someone is alone in a group, ask them to choose a second favorite definition. They may bring the first-choice definition along when moving to a different group. The two definitions may be combined.

  3. When they have chosen their favorite definitions, tell them to discuss in their groups why they chose the definition and why they like it better than the others. They may choose to add ideas from the others to clarify the definition. They may think of real-life examples to illustrate their support. 

  4. After five minutes of small group discussion, the groups choose a representative who explains their definition to the rest of the full group.

  5. Ask the following discussion questions with the whole group:

    • Why do you think different people have different ideas about fairness?
    • Is it possible to solve a conflict in which everyone thinks the resolution is fair?
    • What are some things we can do to promote fairness or call attention to unfairness?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Recognize terms that describe the civil society sector.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.